People standing on stone steps smiling for the camera

Workshop at Edinburgh University leads to upcoming publication for Hub Member Fleur Johns

Edinburgh is “a city of winding cobbled streets and haughty pillars… and intellect” according to one of its better-known residents, the best-selling novelist and medical law scholar Alexander McCall-Smith. For a few days in September 2022, these streets and pillars were frequented by writers and intellects of quite a different genre to McCall-Smith, namely contributors to a book due to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2023, Global Governance by Data: Infrastructures of Algorithmic Rule, being edited by Hub Member Fleur Johns with co-editors Gavin Sullivan (Edinburgh University) and Dimitri Van Den Meerssche (Queen Mary, University of London). Held at the historic Old College of Edinburgh Law School, this authors’ workshop was made possible by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship awarded to Gavin Sullivan (Ref: MR/T041552/1) while Fleur’s participation was also supported in part by the Australian Government under an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant (DP180100903).

Scholars leading and emerging, hailing from multiple continents and disciplinary backgrounds (most of whom are pictured above) converged upon the city for several fun and intense days of discussion and debate. These exchanges probed data-driven and data-mediated changes in how global problems are being known and governed across diverse fields from transnational finance, environmental protection and international development to security, defence and migration management.

After the past few years, it was thrilling to be offline and face-to-face in a room together talking through drafts, as almost all participants were. Judging from the work presented, the book will make important interventions in conceptual and methodological debates ongoing in legal and social science scholarship concerning the governance effects of data infrastructures and their implications for legal and political agency and prospects for accountability and critique.

Congratulations to Fleur and her co-editors on the great success of this incredibly productive workshop. Stay tuned for further news on the upcoming publication in 2023!

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