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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Coloniality of Data (fusion online) (EFIE11045)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryData is not everything. It signifies neither the truth, nor even knowledge. Data is an epistemic phenomenon that represents merely one way of knowing and doing in this world - but there are many others. This course looks at the legacy of colonialism to understand why and how 'data' has become primary in the knowledge economy - and to contemplate alternate ways of knowing and acting in this world.

In keeping with the ethos of the course, we will draw on literary and other cultural texts centring them as modes and sites of knowledge production. The centrepiece of the course will be a 2-day intensive which will entail guided collective reading and discussion of core texts, in-person or virtual fieldtrips, and creative production. In preparation for the intensive, and following it, students will be supported in independent learning through online discussion groups and other supervised group activities. The assessment for the course will include the preparation of a collectively-produced artifact that represents alternate ways of knowing and acting in the world - as well as an individual oral reflection on the artefact.
Course description Social and ethical concerns with 'data-driven' practices tend to focus on the 'garbage in, garbage out' problem - i.e., how inequality comes to be embedded in the production and application of 'bad data', and the imperative to produce and use data more responsibly. This course proposes that these concerns, while not irrelevant, are inadequate; for the problem of inequality does not only lie in 'bad data' but in the notion of data itself.

This course interrogates data as a colonial phenomenon produced by epistemic difference - i.e., by inequalities and exclusions regarding what counts as knowing and acting in this world. It locates 'data' within the genealogy of knowledge production to highlight its coloniality. To do so, in this course we will:

- First, engage the concept of coloniality - and understand its operation in the practices of colonialism;
- Second, draw on the concept of coloniality to understand how what we recognise as 'knowledge' comes to be so. Here, we will address the institution of 'data' within the hegemonic paradigm of knowledge;
- Finally, explore already existing alternate modes of knowing and acting in the world, and of imagining future worlds, that exceed the phenomenon of 'data',

In keeping with the ethos of the course, we will draw on literary and other cultural texts (film, music, etc.) centring them as modes and sites of knowledge production.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  8
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 4, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 7, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2, Fieldwork Hours 3, Formative Assessment Hours 3, Other Study Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 76 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 3
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Summative Assessment:

1) Culminating Artifact (60%)

Collective production following from creative reflection on assigned text. Mark will be assessed based on ability to think across course engagements and to represent this through alternate ways of knowing and doing. The weighting of this assessment reflects the concern of a decolonial pedagogy with collective learning rather than individualised achievement. To support this endeavour, all groups will be invited to a supervision meeting, where they will receive concrete feedback on the direction and progress of their artifact, as well as support on working collaboratively.

2. Culminating Conversation (40%)

Individual reflective engagement on the artifact, applying academic and personal learnings from the course. In keeping with the decolonial ethos of the course, this engagement is intended to facilitate some dialogic learning rather than individualised testing.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Work with a critical understanding of the principal theories, concepts and principles of coloniality.
  2. Demonstrate originality and creativity in the addressing the problem of knowledge production and its impact on inequality.
  3. Critically review, consolidate, and extend thought and action with and against data.
  4. Communicate, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.
  5. Demonstrate leadership and/or initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Wynter, S. (2003). Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument. CR: The New Centennial Review 3(3), 257-337.

Silva, D. F. (2016). On difference without separability. 2nd Bienal de São Paulo - Incerteza Viva. Catalogue. Edited by Jochen Volz and Júlia Rebouças. São Paulo: Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, pp. 57-65.

Thomas, S. R. (2014). Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora. United States: Grand Central Publishing. (Selections)


Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of women in culture and society, 28(3), 801-831.

Benjamin, R. (2019). Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life. United Kingdom: Duke University Press. (Selections)

Browne, S. (2015). Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. United Kingdom: Duke University Press.

Césaire, A. (2001). Discourse on Colonialism. United States: Monthly Review Press.

Damasio, A. (2008). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. United Kingdom: Random House. (Selections)

Fanon, F. (2004). The wretched of the earth. United Kingdom: Grove Press. (Selections)

Foucault, M. (1970/2018). The Order of Things. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis. (Selections)

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon Books.

Kantayya, S. (2020). Coded Bias.

Lorde, A. (2018). The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House. United Kingdom: Penguin Books Limited.

Maldonado-Torres, N. (2016). Outline of ten theses on coloniality and decoloniality.

McKittrick, K. (2015). Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis. United States: Duke University Press. (Selections)

McKittrick, K. (2021). Dear Science and Other Stories. United Kingdom: Duke University Press. (Selections)

Mejias, U. A., Couldry, N. (2019). The Costs of Connection: How Data Is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism. United States: Stanford University Press. (Selections)

Murphy, M. (2017). The Economization of Life. United Kingdom: Duke University Press. (Selections)

Nelson, A. (2016). The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome. United States: Beacon Press. (Selections)

Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. United States: NYU Press. (Selections)

O'Neil, C. (2016). Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. United Kingdom: Penguin Books Limited. (Selections)

Quijano, A., & Ennis, M. (2000). Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America. Nepantla: Views from South 1(3), 533-580.

Wynter, S. (2001). Toward the sociogenic principle: Fanon, identity, the puzzle of conscious experience, and what it is like to be 'Black'. In: Durán-Cogan, Mercedes F., Gómez-Moriana, Antonio (eds) National Identities and Sociopolitical Changes in Latin America. London: Routledge.

Robinson, C. J. (2005). Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. United States: University of North Carolina Press. (Selections)

Silva, D. F. (2018). Hacking the Subject: Black Feminism and Refusal beyond the Limits of Critique. philoSOPHIA 8(1), 19-41.

Spillers, H. J. (2003). Black, white, and in color: Essays on American literature and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Selections)

Spivak, G. (1985). Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism. Critical Inquiry, 12(1), 243-261.

Taussig, M. T. (2010). The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. United States: University of North Carolina Press. (Selections)

Tuck. E. and Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity,
Education & Society 1(1), 1-40.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding:
- A critical understanding of a range of specialised theories, concepts and principles.
- Extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding in one or more specialisms, much of which is at, or informed by, developments at the forefront.
- A critical awareness of current issues in a subject/discipline/sector and one or more specialisms.

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding:
- Ability to use a significant range of the principal professional skills, techniques, practices and/or materials associated with the subject/discipline/sector.
- Ability to plan and execute a significant project of research, investigation or development.
- Ability to demonstrate originality and/or creativity, including in practice.

Generic Cognitive Skills:
- Development of original and creative responses to problems and issues.
- Capacity to critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking across disciplines, subjects, and sectors.
- Ability to deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data/information.

Communication, ICT, and Numeracy Skills:
- Communication, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.
- Communication with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.
- Use of a wide range of ICT applications to support and enhance work at this level and adjust features to suit purpose.

Autonomy, Accountability, and Working with Others:
- Responsibility for own work and/or significant responsibility for group work.
- Demonstration of leadership and/or initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking.
- Practice in ways which draw on critical reflection on own and others' roles and responsibilities.
- Management of complex ethical and professional issues and informed judgement on issues not addressed by current professional and/or ethical codes or practices.
Course organiserDr Rashne Limki
Tel: (0131 6)51 2345
Course secretaryMr Lawrence East
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