Maria Luciano

Maria Luciano

Maria Luciano

Practising hope

“Hope is a discipline.” I was lucky to learn about Mariame Kaba’s quote a few days ago in one of my last meetings of this, personally rough, year. I believe it translates to why I choose to do the work I do and why I was so excited to join CONNECTED BY DATA a couple of weeks ago.

My working-class background has deeply influenced the way I see the world. Through my work on data protection and democracy in Brazil, I have been keen on disseminating knowledge and attempting to amplify the voices of traditionally marginalised groups. The opportunity to explore a collective approach to data governance at CONNECTED BY DATA seemed, and has been proving to be, an amazing one to further develop these interests of mine.

My main focus these days has been to collaborate on a case study database on participatory data governance practices and designs, aiming to learn from experiences in which decisions regarding what data to collect and how to use it were made with the involvement, at different degrees, of those affected by them.

Despite Brazil’s remarkable reference to participatory institutions, the novelty of its general data protection law has recently initiated the debate around democratic data governance. Following the country’s consumer law history, collective data governance discussions have been taking place mostly within its justice system and through public hearings. So, getting to know other practices aiming to include multiple voices in data governance decision-making has been illuminating and exciting. Especially as harmful technologies keep being mobilised by Brazilian politicians time and time again.

Another set of tasks I have been collaborating with is working on panel proposals for public conferences on data governance. I have come to realise it is basically “meta-work” for me: it involves designing sessions and panels that are representative and inclusive so participants can constructively and collectively discuss and map solutions concerning democratic data governance. The work, care, and reflections that go into it add to our efforts of conceptualising compelling participatory experiences.

Working towards putting communities at the centre of data stories and decision-making processes is not a smooth job. In a data ecosystem built upon power asymmetries, discrimination, and exploitation, we keep looking for good practices and great allies to collaborate with.

And, as the New Year approaches, we intend to keep doing it, as a discipline.

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