Research Seminar Series: Freedom in the Information Commons: A Critique

Online via Zoom

The School of Arts and Sciences invites you to a lecture titled “Freedom in the Information Commons: A Critique,” presented by J.J. Ghaddar, a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. The event is part of the School’s Research Seminar Series. 
Click here to attend the lecture.
“Does information really want to be free?” Kimberly Christen (2012) asks. Her intervention highlights how, from the perspective of native peoples in settler colonial societies like Canada or Palestine, free access to information about (or by) the native population by the settler society and state has served as a pillar of their disenfranchisement. In such contexts, the “neat alignment of control with the abuse of power” is undone (Christen 2012, 2873). Perhaps all information wants to be free but does not have the conditions to be so – at least not without reinforcing oppression and global disparities? Yet the increasing calls for open access to any and all information is not new. The lecture outlines a research agenda that pushes back against the neoliberal rhetorics that equate digital culture and information access with democracy and freedom. Ghaddar will discuss two research projects that she has undertaken that considers these issues: The first case focuses on the national archives of the Canadian settler colonial state in light of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s calls for the decolonization of archiving and archives (Ghaddar 2021; 2016). The second case is on her ongoing research into the grand battles in the mid-20th century over the repatriation of archives and for a New World Information & Communication Order (Ghaddar forthcoming). Throughout, she addresses the ways in which digitality is disrupting if not effacing the traditional distinctions between media, information, and heritage domains, technologies, systems and practices. 
About the speaker:
J.J. Ghaddar is a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, where she completed a Master of Information. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) from McMaster University. Her current research focuses on the mid-20th century initiatives of the Third World Bloc at UNESCO in the information, media, communication and heritage domains.