Announcing the 2021-2022 Data & Society Faculty Fellows

Data & Society Research Institute is thrilled to welcome Chaz Arnett, Tamara K. Nopper, and Murali Shanmugavelan as its incoming 2021-2022 Faculty Fellows.

Starting this September, our Faculty Fellows will bring their critical perspectives on race and digital technologies to Data & Society, and produce work that shows alternative ways forward outside the traditional modes of scholarship and power.

The Faculty Fellows Program at Data & Society unites disciplines in new and provocative ways in order to expand the reach and deepen the scope of our core research themes and initiatives. This cohort of scholars will create and promote public-facing scholarship, as well as collaborate with Data & Society’s engagement teams to reach new audiences.

“We are thrilled to bring three Faculty Fellows on board who have expertise in law and criminal justice, alternative data and credit scoring, and decolonial and anti-caste perspectives. Their presence will enrich all of our work and introduce conceptual and thematic areas that connect data to communication, racial justice, and gender,” said Sareeta Amrute, Data & Society Director of Research.

“This cohort of Faculty Fellows will push our research in new directions, especially as it incorporates perspectives from the cross-section of race and technology,” added Janet Haven, Executive Director.

Joining Data & Society as 2020-21 Faculty Fellows:

Chaz Arnett is a legal scholar and advocate whose research explores the interplay between race, digital technologies, and criminal legal processes. His scholarship offers critical legal frameworks in challenging purportedly race-neutral laws and technologies. Arnett’s most recent work focuses on examining the role that surveillance technologies play in perpetuating racial inequities through policing and corrections. His fellowship project will draw upon this expertise as he conducts research on the impact of criminal law and policy on the relationship between racial and surveillance capitalism.

Arnett is currently an associate professor of law at University of Maryland School of Law. He teaches courses on criminal procedure, education law, critical race theory, and juvenile justice. Additionally, this past year he designed and taught a course entitled “Race, Technology, & the Law.” The course is one of the first law school offerings in the country to focus directly on providing students an opportunity to learn about issues at the intersection of race and technology and critique the role of law in generating disparate outcomes. Prior to joining the University of Maryland Law faculty, he was an assistant professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was designated as a Distinguished Public Interest Professor for his commitment to furthering social justice in his teaching, scholarship, and service.

Before teaching, Arnett served as a trial attorney with public defender offices in Baltimore and New Orleans, and as a staff attorney with the Advancement Project, where he assisted in local and national campaigns aimed at combating the school-to-prison pipeline. As a recipient of the Satter Human Rights Fellowship, he also worked with the International Center for Transitional Justice on issues of constitutional development in Zimbabwe, and asylum cases for Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his commitment toward furthering human rights through criminal law work.

Tamara K. Nopper is a sociologist, writer, and editor whose research focuses on the racial and gender wealth gap, financialization, criminalization, punishment, and the social impact of technology, with a particular emphasis on alternative data and credit scoring. A Fellow at Data for Progress and an Affiliate of The Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies, Nopper’s scholarship and writing have appeared in numerous academic publications as well as in The New Inquiry, Jacobin, Truthout, The Margins, The Undefeated, and Verso Books Blog. She edited We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice, a book of Mariame Kaba’s writings and interviews (Haymarket Books), and researched and wrote several data stories for Colin Kaepernick’s Abolition for the People series.

At Data & Society, Nopper will focus on the impact of credit scores on the racial and gender wealth gap. Specifically she will examine how credit scores are calculated and efforts to regulate the credit scoring industry. She will also consider the push for including alternative data in credit scoring and how to measure its impact.

Murali Shanmugavelan researches caste in media and communication studies and digital cultures. His PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London was focused on everyday communicative practices of caste. He has over 15 years of experience developing, managing and implementing projects focused on developing media and ICT policies and practice; outreach and strategic communications; and innovations in mobile applications in multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural settings.

Murali is currently working on the re-manifestation of caste and social hierarchies in digital cultures such as hate speech and platform economies. At Data & Society, Murali’s work will decolonize communication and technology studies from (anti)caste perspectives. His work will scrutinize everyday casteism on the Internet and develop actionable policy recommendations and build pedagogic content about caste in communications and technology studies.