Distributed media and collective intelligence in political action: from an emergency response to disappearing students in Mexico, to city transformation in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain.
Description of Research Project
My PhD research project engages with current debates around the empowering effects of social and distributed media (online and offline, old and new), as well as concerns regarding the intersection of these media with processes of data-mining, machine learning, surveillance and social media manipulation. Through both personal and large-scale accounts, I hope to gain insight into: how people deal with these complex and conflicting power dynamics in their own practice; conceptualisations of distributed mediated techniques and forms of collective intelligence, the latter of which has also been described as the hivemind, the wisdom of the crowd and swarm intelligence.
A pilot fieldwork study in Mexico sadly coincided with the disappearance of 43 students in the rural Mexican town of Ayotzinapa. Based in Mexico City, I was able to connect with the protests and emergency response to their disappearance, taking part in movement media trainings which introduced me to a scholar-activist body of work “Tecnopolítica” which had emerged out of the Indignados movement in Spain. Following threads of political action and Tecnopolítica research, I started to see an international network of people and projects interconnecting Spain and Mexico (amongst other places), with a city transformation project in Barcelona offering hope and potential for political alternatives. People from the Indignados and Tecnopolítica community became part of Barcelona’s new city administration when a former housing activist was elected as Mayor of Barcelona and a digital transformation project was launched in the city. In these networks, concepts of distributed politics and collective intelligence are already mobilised and explored both theoretically and in applied projects, and this body of work has already influenced the development of the PhD project. I am currently approaching the Tecnopolítica group in order to take the study forward.
Co-author "Ethics Guidelines and Collated Resources for Digital Research"
Author essay “Warning and Resistance: Disconnecting and Connecting Struggles”, book Asking, We Walk, South as New Political Imaginary: In the Time of Fire (2013).
Edited by Corinne Kumar of the Tunisian based international NGO El Taller. Published by Streelekha, India.
“43 disappeared students in Mexico: movements problem-solving online and offline”
University of Cambridge, Postgraduates in Latin American Studies Conference 2015
“Dealing with the crisis of 43 disappeared students in Mexico: Movements problem-solving online and offline”
University of Newcastle, Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Postgraduate Conference 2015
Social media session in Copera’s scholar-activist anti-racism workshops, which lead on to the following campaign: http://asivivimoselracismo.tumblr.com/
Copera’s website: https://colectivocopera.org
Qualifications and Achievements
MA in Latin American Interdisciplinary Studies (Distinction), Newcastle University (2013)
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (experimental MOOC), Stanford Engineering, US (2011)
Foundation in Art & Design, Camberwell College of Arts, London, UK (1998)
Philosophy, Politics and Economics 2:1 BA Hons, Oxford University, UK (1995)
Links to other personal web profiles
Video interview with Dr Mariana Mora of the Copera Collective on the Ayotzinapa disappearance of 43 students: “No Todas Las Muertes Valen Lo Mismo // Racismo y #Ayotzinapa” [Not All Deaths Are Worth the Same // Racism and #Ayotzinapa] (2016) https://vimeo.com/184233235
Video Reportage in Mexico: “Quien escucha nuestros gritos?” [Who listens to our cries?] #YaMeCansé (2014) https://vimeo.com/111314391
More videos here: https://vimeo.com/aiguadelatelecat
Orange Farm Water Crisis (2002-2010) The documentary which started an 8 year collaborative film-making relationship: https://vimeo.com/80486889
The collaboration involved close relationships with South African legal organisations, township residents, social movement organisations and international political media networks, and I became an advisor to the Coalition Against Water Privatisation in South Africa. An in-depth follow up interview with the struggle lawyer on the reality of dealing with a long term legal battle: https://vimeo.com/80548897