Privilege, Information, Knowledge & Power: An endless dilemma?

12th Prato CIRN Conference 9-11 November 2015, Monash Centre, Prato Italy

THE 2015 PROCEEDINGS ARE ONLINE. Open the Abstracts/Papers documents for the full list of papers and their pdfs. The other pdf contains pdfs of powerpoints and posters.

A variant image appears on many websites to do with critiquing universities and cultural institutions, as well as activist websites dealing with white privilege, feminism, colonization, 'minority' must be telling us something of relevance for what we do..

Conference Theme

Information and knowledge are socially constructed artifacts located—and often literally inscribed-- within particular relations of information and knowledge production. Such relations of information and knowledge production can reflect unequal distributions of power and privilege, whether manifested in gendered activity; the primacy given to formalized expertise or particular language codes; restricted access to information, knowledge and production for those not in positions of institutional control; or the production of particular artifacts (such as ICT systems) that privilege one group over another.

Critical Community Informatics (CI), Development Informatics (DI), and Community Archiving (CA) education, research, and practice seeks to recognize these relations and openly challenge privileged statuses and practices. They recognize that a pluralistic approach to the problem of information and knowledge production and its preservation as different forms of activity and memory is a critical step to moving beyond approaches that result in privilege to those with skills and power in information and knowledge production across time and space in different environments.

Such a critical perspective also works to move beyond an apolitical approach and utilitarian approach to information and knowledge production or the romanticize and colonization of communities (whether ‘urban’, ‘indigenous’, or ‘traditional’ and so on) as unitary, and easy-to-label collectivities. Instead, it sees information and knowledge as inherently contested and political at all societal levels and to see communities as heterogeneous and likewise, political.

Critical scholarship also raises ethical dilemmas as we consider the privilege given to lineal written language in academic work, as the warrant for particular informational or knowledge truth and procedures. We thus question the role of the academy in defining terminology and appropriate technologies of memory, and we recognize the ways such privileging of the academy serves as a form of epistemological colonization that flows on into different forms of institutional and organizational practice. How to move beyond this privilege is a grand challenge, and in fact, can we move beyond it?

Our aim for the conference is for it to be an active community practice in, and not just discussions about, pluralism. We therefore encourage participation from a wide range of cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, socio-economic statuses, gender identities, disabilities, and ages. We also encourage proposals for different ways of knowing and sharing. We especially seek to foster dialog across difference rather than presentation and preservation of homogeneity, when new ICTs in particular allow the existence and fruitful production of multiverses of information and knowledge.

We are also open to general papers in CI/DI/DA that will be of interest to participants.

We will also consider papers related to any aspect of Community Informatics, Development Informatics or Community Archiving. We are particularly interested in papers from researchers and practitioners that can address the challenges of locating community-based research within wider theoretical and practice frameworks.

Types of papers and presentations sought

Graduate student colloquium in all areas related to Community Informatics, Community Archives, Development Informatics), Paper streams include Refereed, Works in Progress, Non-Refereed, Poster Session & Workshops.

For full details, including questions about the conference themes , key dates and how to submit an abstract, see this page.

Conference Committe

  • Tom Denison, Monash University
  • Joanne Evans, Monash University
  • Anne Gilliland, UCLA
  • Kiera Ladner, University of Manitoba
  • Sue McKemmish, Monash University (Chair)
  • Colin Rhinesmith, University of Oklahoma
  • Larry Stillman, Monash University
  • Kelvin White, University of Oklahoma
  • Martin Wolske, University of Illinois




Ladner_Kiera.jpgKiera Ladner is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Politics and Governance and an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on self-determination, treaty constitutionalism, rights and responsibilities within multiple contexts (Indigenous and settler - in Canada, Australia and New Zealand), Indigenous political thought, federalism and gender diversity. Kiera’s current projects include two SHHRC funded research projects: the comparative Indigenous Constitutional politics project which examines constitutional renewal, Indigenous constitutional visions and Indigenous rights debates in Canada, Australia and New Zealand; and, a project with Dr. Shawna Ferris (Women’s and Gender Studies) on a community centred digital archives project which is compiling three digital archives - the Sex Work Database, The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Database, and the Post-apology Indian Residential School Database

Shawna_Ferris2.gifShawna Ferris, University of Manitoba. She researches in the areas of violence against women, critical race and feminist cultural studies, and sex work studies. Her current research examines anti-violence, anti-racism, and decolonization-oriented activism stemming from the growing number of missing and murdered people—many of whom are Indigenous women—in urban centres across Canada. As part of this research, she is working with Dr. Kiera Ladner on the Digital Archives and Marginalized Communities Project.

Safiya Noble, UCLA. Safiya conducts research in socio-cultural informatics; including feminist, historical and political-economic perspectives on computing platforms and software in the public interest. Her research is at the intersection of transnational culture and technology in the design and use of applications on the Internet.

Special Workshop: Towards a CIRN Statement on Ethics, Diversity, and Inclusion

To complete the work towards a community informatics publication on ethics, diversity, and inclusion begun over the last two CIRN conferences, attendees are invited to join this year’s workshop to provide feedback on a proposed statement on ethics, diversity, and inclusion. The statement is rooted in the expansive list of ethics and diversity principles and practice standards developed at the 2014 CIRN conference (see the CIRN Wiki at: .
At this year’s workshop, we will use the World Café approach to gather participant feedback on the proposed statement, while considering how the statement might be applicable to CI research, teaching, and practice. We seek participation from a plurality of perspectives as the CI community moves toward a response to Randy Stoecker’s 2005 critique of community informatics as an underdeveloped field of practice due to the lack of a codified set of ethics and practice standards.

Location/Travel information
Please follow this link for more information.







All travel and other arrangements are at your own risk and the organisers accept no liability. Visas are delegates own responsibility. The program may change due to non-availability of particular speakers.

More information: prato2015 AT