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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Evidence: of the people, by the people and for the people?

Arely Cruz-Santiago (Geography, Durham University)
Professor Louise Amoore (Geography, Durham University)

The panel aims to consider the different disciplinary, spatial and temporal contexts in which composites of information are brought together in order to be assessed and then presented as evidence. Drawing from experiences in cloud computing and algorithmic analysis, forensic identification techniques and citizen’s engagement with forensic data, we want to stress that evidence collection and assemblage is not a task exclusively deemed to belong to governmental security agencies or allocated experts, but also a task for engaged citizens that through experience and local knowledge are part of the production of knowledge and assessment of evidence. Thus, we will consider questions such as how data is collected and by whom? Who or what is allowed to assess and scrutinise that information so it can be considered evidence? (i.e. citizens are not allowed to collect certain type of data that only is reachable for experts, governmental institutions nor to question and contest expert evidence even though information coming from authorised experts is sometimes inaccurate or unreliable).

Further, the panel will address the different spaces in which evidence is presented and materialised in order to make a claim. The aim is not only to consider the sites where these visualisations occur (whether in a laboratory, a court room, a border control visualisation software, international organisations or in political forums) but also to think about the strategies in which the invisible —and the relations between gaps of information— renders action in the world open for examination, and thus we are able to ‘almost see’. How academics, practitioners and citizens work/read through the gaps of information, and use what is not ‘there’ to make it productive, visible and actionable.