Black Data

McGlotten, Shaka

Shaka McGlotten employs the notion of “black data” to explore how black queers trouble the invisible or taken-for-granted operations of states and corporations that seek to acquire and store detailed dossiers of citizen-consumers. Thus, for McGlotten, “black data” also evokes hidden or counterknowledges and stealthy forms of resistance (“black ops”). In particular, he applies a materialist black queer analytic to the “deep web” to grapple with the nsa surveillance scandal, new biometric technologies, and the tech-fueled gentrification of San Francisco. Drawing on case studies from everyday life and artistic practice, McGlotten links the deep web to the ways black bodies, and especially black queer bodies, are understood as data points, as statistical objects or deviations, rather than as ontologically material persons. Ultimately, the essay queries how black queers navigate the perils of data fields in online queer spaces where disclosing one’s racial identity can make one vulnerable to violence.