16-17 December, 2019, Goldsmiths, University of London

We’re drowning in an ocean of data, or so the saying goes. Data’s “big”: there’s not only lots of it, but its volume has allowed for the development of new, large-scale processing techniques. Our relationships with governments, medical organisations, technology companies, the education sector, and so on are increasingly informed by the data we overtly or inadvertently provide when we use particular services. The proverbial data deluge is large-scale—but it’s also personal.

Data increasingly characterises what it means to be a person in the present. Data promises to personalise services to better meet our individual needs. Data is often construed as a threat to our person(s). Not every person predicated by data is predicted the same. The intersection between data and person isn’t fixed: it has to be figured.

The aim of this conference is to bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to explore how the person—or persons, plural—are figured in/out of data. The figuration of a person might encompass any or all of processes of representation, calculation, analogisation, prediction, and conceptualisation. It cuts across multiple scales, epistemological modes, and disciplinary areas of enquiry. It tackles problems that cross into disparate disciplines. Our proposition is that the conceptual language of ‘the figure’ and its variations—figuration, figuring, to figure, and so on—can help us to apprehend what the person is and how it is processed in the present.

Join us on the 16th and 17th of November for two days of interdisciplinary panels and keynotes addressing the concept and utility of “figure”, “figuration” and “figuring” for understanding and analysing the present. Alongside presentations from scholars in the social sciences, art history, media studies, the medical humanities, literary studies, philosophy, science and technology studies, urban studies, and geography, Figurations will also feature keynote presentations by Professor Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (Simon Fraser University, Professor Jane Elliott (University of Exeter), Professor John Frow (The University of Sydney), and Professor AbdouMaliq Simone (The University of Sheffield).

Registration can be found here. There is no fee for this conference and lunch and coffee will be provided. This conference has been funded by The Wellcome Trust as part of the People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation project. It is organised by researchers from the University of Warwick’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, in conjunction with Goldsmiths, University of London’s Department of Anthropology and Imperial College’s Patient Experience Research Centre.

If you have any enquiries, please direct them to Scott Wark at S.Wark@Warwick.ac.uk.