Defending Rural Autonomies in an era of Big Data and Financialization

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group, Rural Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Johnson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Tad Mutersbaugh, Gustavo Oliveira

Call for Submissions

We are looking for a few more scholar/activists that would like to discuss methods and strategies for obtaining and assessing rural information, particularly that held by state institutions and private firms. At present we have a focus on TIAA pension investments and state-held resource info, and are looking to expand into additional areas with a focus on data-gathering methods. Our focus will be to assess methods and approaches that governments and firms use to further rights enclosures, think through how might we liaise with grassroots and community organizations, and consider ethical issues and other pitfalls.


The rise of rural data production, financialization and rights enclosures requires a rethinking of academic engagements and strategies as we work with communities and local & global activists working to defend community autonomy. Land-, resource- and data grabbing, whether taking form as commons enclosures, valuation changes, or surveillance, depends on the production and control of data. Traditional forms such as census, survey, and cadaster have been recently augmented with digital data production techniques such as geodata, biometrics (retinal scans, genetic profiling), participatory data manufacture (assistentialist social data), and environmental monitoring among others. These novel techniques have been noted and efforts to access and interpret this data mounted by groups ranging from Oaxacan (Mexican) community governments to regional NGOs such as MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) and international groups such as Via Campesina and ActionAid. In sum, there exists significant interest in evaluating these varied data initiatives and parsing the form and degree of threat – or opportunity – that these pose for autonomy. What methods and approaches, then, can academics use to assist in the examination of data production and rights enclosures? How might we liaise with grassroots and community organizations? What are the ethical issues and other pitfalls to consider?


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Tad Mutersbaugh University of Kentucky 5
Panelist Doug Hertzler ActionAid USA 15
Panelist John Canfield Auburn University 12
Discussant Gustavo Oliveira University of California - Irvine 10
Discussant Sarah Lyon UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY 10
Discussant Lindsay Shade University of Kentucky 10

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