Braiding the Network

This workshop is postponed.

The May 1 “Unsettle” workshop is hereby postponed. Event organizers will be in touch with applicants in April to propose reimagined ways to connect and support each other.

Read Data & Society’s full COVID-19 response here.

An all-day workshop in New York City to interrogate the colonial logic behind global, data-driven governance.

Data-driven governance conjures a world where all aspects of life can be tracked, measured, and rendered as data. In response to this extractive social order, we call for a data retreat.

To retreat is a collective gift of time and space. To retreat is to put our data behind us and foreground our messy societal context; to move at scales and tempos determined not by computer processing time, but by living, breathing bodies. The purpose of this retreat is to braid a network of critical thinkers interrogating data colonialism and imagining data justice informed by relational reciprocity. We aim to hold a space of encounter where a constellation of differently situated practitioners can exchange strategies and weave heterotopic research threads. The day will allow participants to present works and locate their knowledge practice in a mutually beneficial and constructive environment.

This is the second in a series of convenings hosted through #unsettle, a program at Data & Society that reorients research on data-driven worlds to center Indigenous, Black, Feminist, and Queer cosmologies. We frame current developments in sociotechnical systems through the lens of decolonial, feminist praxis, and aim to unsettle existing research methods by thinking through technology’s myriad relationships to the historical, unfinished, and everyday effects of empire.

Participation Requirements

WHO: We invite scholars, students, community organizers, product designers, engineers, computer scientists, critical theorists, technologists, scientists, artists, and other research based practitioners working at the intersection of data & society.

WHAT: The format of this gathering will be discussion based and can include presentations, performances, readings, or workshops. Participants will have the opportunity to share artifacts from their respective knowledge practices.

Artifacts can take on multiple forms including: academic article, pedagogical tool, theory, software, game, archive, model, dataset, field notes, quipu, github repository, map, ceramic pot, poem, somatic movement, song, Twitter thread, myth, blog entry, zine, or media object that carries and communicates shared meaning and insight.

Participants may also choose not to share anything formally, but will be expected to participate as listeners and discussants.

HOW: To apply, please fill out this form.


WHEN: We will convene on Friday, May 1st, 2020 10-5 p.m. ET at Data & Society Research Institute located in New York City.

Participants are encouraged to stay for the duration of the retreat. Please communicate to the organizers in your application if you anticipate needing to leave early. Remote participation will not be available. We regret that we are unable to offer childcare at this time.

There is limited travel support for out of town guests so please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate.

For inquiries, please email [email protected].

Key Dates

  • Application Deadline: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
  • Selection Decisions: Friday, April 03, 2020
  • Retreat: Friday, May 1, 2020


We aim to create a collective experience in accordance with the Design Justice Network Principles in order to: Braid a network of knowledge workers imbedded across the fields of Science & Technology Studies (STS), Information Studies, Critical Code Studies, Computer Science, Communication, Media Studies, Anthropology, Law, Sociology, Ethnic Studies, Art and Design as well as technology professionals working in the industry so that we may:

  • Exchange stories, methods and tactics for addressing and understanding epistemic harm — whether contemporary or historical — with the intent to discern possible research projects and;
  • Assess the struggle of maintaining horizontal networks that link critical, research based practitioners and institutions interested in contributing to ongoing studies on the coloniality of data.

Our Origins

We first came across the concept of ‘unsettling’ in an article written by anthropologists Yarimar Bonilla and Jonathan Rosa. We use the #unsettle hashtag to gesture towards a relational model of being that is hyper-linked across many cyber-physical worlds. The first collaborative impulse began with a symposium organized in May of 2019.

We are also inspired by the foundational work of Shaka Mcglotten, Anita Say Chan, Jasmine McNealy, Stephanie Dinkins, Mutale Nkonde, Latoya Peterson, Jessie Daniels, Ruha Benjamin, Paula Charkravartty, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Lisa Nakamura, Clapperton Mavhunga, Ulises Mejias, Nick Couldry, Kavita Philip, Kim Tall Bear, and many other intellectual kinfolk in formulating these principles.

Previous outputs:


This gathering is organized and designed by the #unsettle working group, an interdisciplinary band of critical thinkers and deterritorialized knowledge workers currently based out of Data & Society Research Institute in Lenapehoking / New York City.

Current Members: Sareeta Amrute; Anita Say Chan; Siera Dissmore; Rigoberto Lara Guzmán; Shaka McGlotten


black and white image of a turtle riding on a coyote's back with the moon in the background