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Global Digital Cultures offers regular research seminars in which work-in-progress papers from junior and senior researchers at the UvA are discussed. The monthly GDC research seminars are aimed at discussing work-in-progress on global digital cultures. During each of these seminars, we will discuss two draft texts, seeking to include a dialogue between senior and junior scholars. As usual, we will discuss two work-in-progress texts by UvA colleagues.

Event details of GDC Research Seminar Series
Date 17 February 2023
Time 15:00 -17:00

These sessions feature research on global digital cultures from a wide variety of scholarly disciplines, theoretical perspectives, and methodological approaches. During each of these events, we will discuss two draft texts, seeking to include a mix of senior and junior scholars.

For our upcoming GDC Seminar on February 17, from 15:00 - 17:00 we will discuss works in progress by Andreas Baur and Paula Helm. This will take place in REC B5.12 (Common Room Anthropology).

Andreas Baur

"Gaia-X: Governing European Digital Sovereignty in the Cloud"

This paper analyses the specific and so far unmatched governance structure and practices of Gaia-X. Gaia-X is an initiative to create a European cloud ecosystem aiming at boosting digital innovation while securing Europe‚Äôs sovereignty in a global IT infrastructure. Although its clear political objective is to balance the power of non-European cloud providers and strengthen European digital sovereignty, the initiative invited all big American (and Chinese) cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Huawei into the project. The initiative aims at providing a platform of interoperable and approved services obeying to Gaia-X standards and European regulation. Questions addressed in the paper are: why is Europe governing their cloud sovereignty in that unusual way? How is the initiative organised? How are non-European providers integrated, what problems arise and how successful is this? Analysing Gaia-X helps to understand a new model of governance that shows a hybrid merging of political regulation, self-regulation, and technological regulation, contributing to the literature of platform governance but also to studies of European technology regulation.

Paula Helm 

"Leveraging or Exploiting? Breaking the cycle of neocolonial exploitation and paternalism in data-driven North-South partnerships."

The extractive logic of Big Data-driven technology and knowledge production has raised serious concerns. In recent years, attention has increasingly turned to the consequences for countries and communities in the Global South. This critique has thus far focused primarily on private sector activities. In this paper, however, we argue that publicly funded processes of knowledge and technology production must also be scrutinized through the lens of a neocolonial critique. To this end, we analyse the dynamics of collaboration in an EU-funded research and innovation project that is collecting data for the development of a "diversity-aware digital platform." The project includes pilot sites in China, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Italy, Mexico, Mongolia, and Paraguay. We present the experiences at four of the pilot sites, reflecting on the initial conception of the project, the challenges, ambiguities, and missed opportunities, as well as our progress and results to date. We then analyse the different experiences in comparison. As a result of our analysis, we identify some key actions needed to counter the prevailing logics of data colonialism and Eurocentrism. These, we argue, are rooted not only in historically entrenched structures of inequality, but also in the requirements of rapid upscaling that dominate recent innovation cultures and funding structures.


If you would like to attend the seminar series, you can RSVP using the link above.

Following your registration, you will receive information about the event location and participating scholars. You will also receive an e-mail with a link to download the texts. 

We would like to ask you to read these texts in advance to ensure a smooth and rich discussion and to kindly refrain from sharing them publicly, as they include work in progress. 

The discussion will be followed by drinks!

If you have any questions, drop us an e-mail at