[SIGCIS-Members] Mahoney Prize for 2018: Joanna Radin, "Digital Natives"

Andrew Russell arussell at arussell.org
Mon Oct 22 10:10:11 PDT 2018

Dear colleagues - 

It’s a pleasure to share that the Mahoney Prize for 2018 has been awarded to Joanna Radin for her article “Digital Natives: How Medical and Indigenous Histories Matter for Big Data.” Osiris Vol. 32, No. 1 (2017): 43-64.  The Mahoney Prize recognizes an outstanding article in the history of computing and information technology, broadly conceived.  

Many of you will recall that Prof. Radin was the keynote speaker of our 2017 SIGCIS conference in St. Louis.  She has graciously dedicated the award and prize money to the Akimel O’odham tribe.  

More information on the Mahoney Prize is available from https://www.sigcis.org/2018mahoneyprize, including the prize citation, which I reproduce below.

In “Digital Natives: How medical and Indigenous histories matter for Big Data,” Joanna Radin argues for critical engagement with “the metabolism of Big Data”. Radin presents the remarkable history of a dataset known as the Pima Indigenous diabetes study, derived from research conducted with the Akimel O’odham Indigenous community in Arizona. Since the loss of their ability to farm the land, this community has an extremely high rate of diabetes. Reconstructing the circumstances of the dataset’s production and its presence in a Machine Learning repository where it is used in projects far removed from diabetes, Radin draws attention to the way that data is naturalised, and bodies and economic struggle are elided. Significant questions are raised about the ethics and politics of research in an age of Big Data, including the reproduction of patterns of settler colonialism in the research enterprise, and the community’s work to redefine the research encounter. The prize committee were impressed by Radin’s depth of research, quality of analysis, and the contribution to multiple literatures, and commend her for an inspired and inspiring article.

Best regards,


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