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RSC seminar, 8 May 2024

Public Seminar Series, Trinity term 2024

Series convened by Professor Naohiko Omata and Professor Tom Scott-Smith

About the speaker

Professor Kristin Sandvik is a Research Professor in Humanitarian Studies at PRIO and a law professor at UiO. She co-founded and directed the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies. Professor Sandvick teaches ethics, sociology of law, legal tech, and AI and robot regulations. She leads the RCN-funded LAW22JULY: RIPPLES (SAMRISK) and Do No Harm: Ethical humanitarian Innovation (NORGLOBAL), and is part of RegulAir and Co-duties. Her book on Humanitarian Extractivism (Manchester University Press) was published in 2023. Her next book is on humanitarian regulation. 

Humanitarian Extractivism investigates the digital transformation of aid as a form of humanitarian extractivism. It focuses on how practices of data extraction shift power towards states, the private sector and humanitarians.

Digital initiatives aimed towards 'fixing' the humanitarian system, making it better and more secure, also create risk and harm for vulnerable individuals and communities. Central to the digital transformation of aid is the digital body - with digital identities becoming a prerequisite for receiving aid and protection - and the centralisation of vulnerability arising from enormous databases holding ever more humanitarian data. Cyber-attacks, human error and technological problems generate risks for humanitarians, but also mean that humanitarians themselves can put populations in need at risk.

The book explores new humanitarian spaces and practices such as the humanitarian drone airspace, wearable innovation challenges and ethics in global disaster innovation labs.