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Theorizing the Web Presents: Surveillance of Black Lives


In this first installment of Theorizing the Web Presents, a new series highlighting critical perspectives on timely issues at the intersection of tech and media, Museum of the Moving Image welcomes scholar and journalism instructor Allissa Richardson and scholar and AI policy advisor Mutale Nkonde, who will speak about the impact of surveillance during the movement for the liberation of Black Lives and the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics explored will include facial recognition used in policing, tracing software associated with the pandemic, and how images of Black death have created a treacherous techno-mediascape that extends state matrices of power and systems of oppression faced by Black people in the United States. The discussion will be led by scholar and Theorizing the Web board member Apryl Williams.

Watch the recorded event here.

About the speakers:

Allissa Richardson is an award-winning journalism instructor and scholar at USC Annenberg who studies how marginalized communities use mobile and social media to produce innovative forms of journalism—especially in times of crisis. She is considered a pioneer in mobile journalism (MOJO), having launched the first smartphone-only college newsroom in 2010. The MOJO Lab, based on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, expanded globally in 2011 to include classes for allied nonprofit organizations in Morocco and South Africa. Richardson’s research has been published in Journal of Communication, Journalism Studies, Convergence, The Black Scholar, and many other venues. She is also an affiliated researcher with New York University’s Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies (CR + DS).

Mutale Nkonde is an AI policy advisor and a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Nkonde has been working as a senior tech policy advisor for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke since 2016. She was part of the team that helped introduce the Algorithmic Accountability Act into the House of Representatives in April 2019, and is currently considering a series of data privacy proposals. She is also the founder of the Dorothy Vaughn Tech Symposium, a briefing series that takes place on Capitol Hill. Her work has been covered in MIT Tech Review, WIRED, Venture Crunch, Muse, and PBS News Hour; she is co-author of a report on racial literacy and tech; and she speaks widely on race, policy, and AI.

Apryl Williams is an Assistant Professor of Communication & Media at the University of Michigan, a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and an affiliated researcher with NYU’s Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies. As a multidisciplinary scholar, Williams studies the experience of race and racism online. Her recent work on the racial implications of the Karen meme has been featured in Time Magazine, On the Media, NPR Detroit, and other news outlets. Williams’s research on digital collectives and digital inequality has been published in the International Journal of Communication, Social Sciences, Information, Communication & Society, and Sociology Compass.

This event is free. If you’ve already donated to Theorizing the Web, thank you. If not, please consider supporting the Museum with a donation. MoMI’s staff is working hard to fulfill its mission via remote programming. This comes with opportunities to experiment but also profound challenges. Your support is critical to ensure our work remains vital and visible to a broad public. Suggested donation: $10. Donate here.