CGMC Annual Lecture: Technocolonialism: when ‘technology for good’ can be harmful

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5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
SOAS Main Building
Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)
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Centre for Global Media and Digital Communication, SOAS - Annual Lecture

Speaker: Professor Mirca Madianou, Goldsmiths

Chair : Dina Matar, Director CGMC



In my talk I will put forward the notion of technocolonialism which I’ve been developing to explain the ways that digital innovation, automation and data practices in the humanitarian sector revitalize colonial legacies. Technocolonialism refers to the convergence of digital developments with humanitarian structures, state power and market forces and the extent to which they reinvigorate and rework colonial genealogies. Technocolonialism shifts the attention to the constitutive role that data and digital innovation play in entrenching power asymmetries in the global context. Drawing on eight years of research in the aid sector, I observe that colonial genealogies are reworked by extracting value from the data of affected communities; by experimenting with untested technologies in humanitarian settings; and by materializing racial discrimination and dehumanizing suffering. As always, colonial structures are met with resistance. Even if contestation is asymmetrically structured, it contains the seeds of future decolonial struggles.


Mirca Madianou is Professor in the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her current research focuses on the social consequences of communication technologies, data and automation in the global south especially in relation to migration and humanitarian emergencies. She is the author of Mediating the Nation: news, audiences and the politics of identity and Migration and New Media: transnational families and polymedia (with Daniel Miller). Her book Technocolonialism: when technology for good is harmful will be published by Polity in 2023.

Image credit: Adi Goldstein (Unsplash)