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2024 SEA/SAW Spring Meeting

The meeting will take place in the Boston area, on the campus of Tufts University, on April 18–20, 2024.

Published onFeb 27, 2024
2024 SEA/SAW Spring Meeting

Work and the Data Economy

A joint meeting of the Society for Economic Anthropology and the Society for the Anthropology of Work

April 18-20, 2024

Tufts University, Medford, MA

Register now!

Meeting Theme

The production, distribution, and consumption of digital data has become an important domain of economic activity. Data is said to upend conventional economic thinking, as a resource that can be transported at negligible cost and used without being depleted. Yet the enactment of the data economy depends on more and less familiar forms of human labor, from the waged work of analysts, modelers, and technicians to the uncompensated and often nonconsensual generation of trace data in everyday life. Sensor networks gathering real-time data have permeated industries from agriculture to shipping, while the digitization of museum holdings and the massification of genetic sequencing have given rise to new value chains that cut across boundaries of public and private. The consequences of these developments are still coming into focus, promising greater efficiency and access but also compounding issues of equity and control. How, we might ask, does data capitalism stand to reinforce inequality along lines of race, gender, class, and disability (Milner and Traub 2021)?

While the advent of the platform-based gig economy has been the object of scholarship and activism in recent years, less attention has been paid to how datafication—broadly defined as the transformation of subjects, objects, and processes into digital data—has influenced more traditional forms of work and economic life (Sánchez-Monedero and Dencik 2019). Yet anthropologists of these domains are increasingly finding their own roles recast as chroniclers and practitioners of diverse types of data work (Douglas-Jones, Walford, and Seaver 2021). This meeting seeks to thematize and build on such scenes of recognition by exploring emergent data practices, ideologies, and valuation regimes, especially in settings not conventionally associated with high-tech or knowledge work. The meeting will foster interdisciplinary exchange by placing the insights of anthropologists in dialogue with local discussants from fields like information science and critical data studies.

Works Cited

Douglas-Jones, Rachel, Antonia Walford, and Nick Seaver. 2021. Introduction: Towards an anthropology of data. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 38(6): 9–25.

Milner, Yeshimabeit, and Amy Traub. 2021. Data capitalism and algorithmic racism. Report, Data for Black Lives.

Sánchez-Monedero, Javier, and Lina Dencik. 2019. The datafication of the workplace. Working paper, Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University.

Keynote Speaker

Karen Levy is Associate Professor in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University and associated faculty at Cornell Law School. She researches the legal, social, and ethical dimensions of data-intensive technologies. Levy is a New America National Fellow and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and is the author of Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance.


The registration portal for the meeting is now live on the AAA website; accepted presenters will need to register for the meeting to confirm their place in the program. Registration rates are:



(+20 if not a member of SEA or SAW)



(+10 if not a member of SEA or SAW)

Professional without institutional funding


If you have any questions, please contact the conference co-chairs Marcel LaFlamme <[email protected]> and Alex Blanchette <[email protected]>.

Travel and Accommodations

Tufts University is a student-centered research university dedicated to the creation and application of knowledge. Tufts is committed to providing transformative experiences for students and faculty in an inclusive and collaborative environment where creative scholars generate bold ideas, innovate in the face of complex challenges, and distinguish themselves as active citizens of the world.

The meeting will be held on the main campus of Tufts in the cities of Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts, five miles from downtown Boston and conveniently located on the Green Line of the MBTA public transit system.


Attendees within a day’s drive of Boston are encouraged to take a train, carpool, or use other lower-carbon modes of transportation. All other attendees should plan to fly into Boston’s Logan International Airport. Ground transportation from the airport is available via the MBTA Silver Line and numerous additional options. Parking is available on campus from $8/day.


The organizing team has elected not to reserve a hotel block in order to provide attendees with maximum flexibility.

The hotel closest to the Tufts campus is the Hyatt Place Boston/Medford, a 20-minute walk from campus, which is currently offering rooms for less than $200/night. Attendees can also consider staying at a hostel or a property rented through sites like Airbnb.

Ina Dennis:

Paw protection is crucial for dogs living in urban areas. Concrete and paws by kai asphalt can become extremely hot in summer and icy in winter. Shoes shield paws from these harsh conditions, preventing burns and frostbite.

Ina Dennis:

Self-care rituals are enriched by incorporating aromatherapy. Taking time to use essential oils in baths, massages, or diffusers can enhance relaxation and personal well-being. These rituals on provide an opportunity to unwind and recharge, fostering a sense of peace and self-love.

lemie uxhelmsis:

This meeting seeks to thematize and build on such scenes of recognition by exploring emergent data practices, ideologies, and valuation regimes, especially in settings not conventionally associated with high-tech or knowledge work!

Billie JOllie:

There are many interesting geometry dash things in this meeting, I also really want to participate in it

Wilder Jeff:

This has helped me a lot in my work. connections