Centre for Internet & Society

Data Lives of Humanities Text

by Puthiya Purayil Sneha

The ‘computational turn’ in the humanities has brought with it several questions and challenges for traditional ways of engaging with the ‘text’ as an object of enquiry. The prevalence of data-driven scholarship in the humanities offers several challenges to traditional forms of work and practice, with regard to theory, tools, and methods. In the context of the digital, ‘text’ acquires new forms and meanings, especially with practices such as distant reading. Drawing upon excerpts from an earlier study on digital humanities in India, this essay discusses how data in the humanities is not a new phenomenon; concerns about the ‘datafication’ of humanities, now seen prominently in digital humanities and related fields is actually reflective of a longer conflict about the inherited separation between humanities and technology. It looks at how ‘data’ in the humanities has become a new object of enquiry as a result of several changes in the media landscape in the past few decades. These include large-scale digitalization and availability of corpora of materials (digitized and born-digital) in an array of formats and across varied platforms, thus leading to also a steady prevalence of the use of computational methods in working with and studying cultural artifacts today. This essay also explores how reading ‘text as data’ helps understand the role of data in the making of humanities texts and redefines traditional ideas of textuality, reading, and the reader.

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Call for Papers: #CultureForAll Conference

by Puthiya Purayil Sneha

We are collaborating with Sahapedia, Azim Premji University, and University of Cape Town to invite papers on cultural mapping for the #CultureForAll conference scheduled to be held in March 2021. Cultural mapping is a set of activities and processes for exploring, discovering, documenting, examining, analysing, interpreting, presenting, and sharing information related to people, communities, societies, places, and the material products and practices associated with those people and places. All interested academicians, researchers, PhD students, and practitioners are invited to submit papers. The conference is supported by Tata Technologies and MapMyIndia.

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Inputs to the public consultation on the draft Code on Social Security (Central) Rules, 2020 - Joint submission by an alliance of trade unions and civil society organisations

by Aayush Rathi and Ambika Tandon

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) contributed to a joint submission by IT for Change and various trade union and civil society organisations in response to the public consultation of the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the draft Code on Social Security Rules, 2020. Here are the overview, full text of the submitted inputs, and names of organisations and individuals who endorsed them.

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IFAT and ITF - Locking Down the Impact of Covid-19

by Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), New Delhi office

This report, by Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), New Delhi office, explores the responses to the outbreak of Covid-19 by digital platform based companies, trade unions, and governments to help out workers for digital platform based companies hereafter app based workers during the lockdown. The research work in this article is a characterization of the struggles of app based workers during the global pandemic and how it has affected and changed the world of work for them. The surveys were conducted amongst the workforce working for app based companies like Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato etc. This study is partially supported by CIS as part of the Feminist Internet Research Network led by the Association for Progressive Communications.

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Raina Roy and Abhiraj Bag - Kolkata’s trans community has been locked out of healthcare and livelihood

by Raina Roy and Abhiraj Bag

Over six months into the outbreak of Covid-19 in India, it has become clear that the pandemic does not affect everybody equally. It has amplified the sufferings of the already-marginalised trans community. Raina Roy spoke to 10 trans persons and trans rights activists in Kolkata over the course of the past few months to better understand the situation. The piece was transcribed by Abhiraj Bag and edited by Kaarika Das and Srravya C, researchers at the Centre for Internet and Society, India. This work is part of a project at CIS on gender, welfare and surveillance, supported by Privacy International, United Kingdom.

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Brindaalakshmi.K - Gendering of Development Data in India: Beyond the Binary

by Brindaalakshmi.K

This report by Brindaalakshmi.K seeks to understand the gendering of development data in India: collection of data and issuance of government (foundational and functional) identity documents to persons identifying outside the cis/binary genders of female and male, and the data misrepresentations, barriers to accessing public and private services, and informational exclusions that still remain. Sumandro Chattapadhyay edited the report and Puthiya Purayil Sneha offered additional editorial support. This work was undertaken as part of the Big Data for Development network supported by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

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'I feel the pain of having nowhere to go': A Manipuri Trans Woman Recounts Her Ongoing Lockdown Ordeal

by Santa Khurai

"My life and work in Bengaluru came to an abrupt halt with the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown this March. We no longer had jobs and were forced to plan our departure from the city." -- As told to Santa Khurai, Manipur-based queer and Nupi Manbi activist, artist and writer. Compiled by Aayush Rathi, a cisgender, heterosexual man, and researcher with Centre for Internet and Society, India. This account is part of an ongoing CIS research project on gender, welfare and surveillance in India, and is supported by Privacy International, UK.

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DWRU, BBGS & MKU - The Covid-19 Pandemic and the Invisible Workers of the Household Economy

by Geeta Menon

Domestic Workers Rights Union (DWRU), Bruhat Bangalore Gruhakarmika Sangha (BBGS), and Manegelasa Kaarmikara Union (MKU) have prepared a report on the invisibilisation of domestic workers under the Covid-19 pandemic and a set of demands directed at the government and resident welfare associations (RWAs) for better, dignified and just treatment of domestic workers in Karnataka. We at CIS are proud to contribute to and publish this work as part of the ongoing 'Feminist Internet Research Network' project supported by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

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Ethics and Human Rights Guidelines for Big Data for Development Research

by Amber Sinha, Manjri Singh, Rajashri Seal, Pranav Bhaskar Tiwari, Pranav M Bidare

This is a four-part review of guideline documents for ethics and human rights in big data for development research. This research was produced as part of the Big Data for Development network supported by International Development Research Centre, Canada

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A Compilation of Research on the Gig Economy

by Aayush Rathi, Ambika Tandon, Sumandro Chattapadhyay

Over the past year, researchers at CIS have been studying gig economies and gig workers in India. Their work has involved consultative discussions with domestic workers, food delivery workers, taxi drivers, trade union leaders, and government representatives to document the state of gig work in India, and highlight the concerns of gig workers. The imposition of a severe lockdown in India in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 has left gig workers in precarious positions. Without the privilege of social distancing, these workers are having to contend with a drastic reduction in income, while also placing themselves at heightened health risks.

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