The State and the Information Economy

The State and the Information Economy

Photo collage combines: Tenochtitlán 1550 Map and “MTG-I” from the European Space Agency

Summer Institute for Community College Instructors

May 31 - June 1, 2024

How does the state know itself and the world in which it operates? This summer institute will explore the ways in which states generate and use information. How do states produce information about themselves, collect information about other states and peoples, and manage the flow of information internally and externally? What kinds of information is available to states in the age of big data and does this substantively change relations between states, corporations, and citizens?

This ORIAS Summer Institute is intended for instructors of global studies, economics, international relations, political science, journalism, modern world history, computational social science, and related information sciences. It is open to community college instructors and (space permitting) high school teachers of AP history-social science courses.

This FREE program will take place in person and lunch will be provided. Space is limited to 22 people on a first-come, first-served basis.


Friday, May 31

9:30 - 9:45 AM

Breakfast and check-in

9:45 - 10:00 AM

Alan Karras & Shane Carter - Program Introduction

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Information Management and Political Control in Russia

Speaker: Melissa Samarin

Information gathering and surveillance tactics are increasingly being used as political control methods by modern states. This is especially true within 'informational autocracies' like Russia, where information gathering, media control, and propaganda are strategically used to advance state agendas and policies and ensure widespread compliance. Utilizing a theoretical framework of political control, this discussion will focus on the specific informational tactics that the Russian state uses for infiltration, cooptation, and indoctrination, with the aim of maintaining political support and stability amongst the population. 

12:30 - 1:30 PM


1:30 - 4:00 PM

Citizenship Laws, Biopower, and the Information Apparatus in India

Speaker: Angana P. Chatterji

This presentation examines contemporary laws and policies seeking to alter the basis of Indian citizenship through exclusionary, majoritarian changes to the law. Promulgated by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, two initiatives that recast the basis of Indian nationality are the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Nationwide protests have been met with brutal state suppression of dissent. The BJP contends that many Muslims reside in India “illegally,” popularizing revisionist history in the development of a conscious, repressive, always gendered, state apparatus of majoritarian and caste dominance. The citizenship movement has been operationalized by the BJP through three intersecting campaigns: injurious amendments to the law, racialization of Muslims in public discourse, and political signalling to trigger vigilantism. BJP politicians mobilize social discontent and political grievances to obfuscate the porosity of borders between what is “India” in this historical present and surrounding states and regions in South Asia, for reasons of geography, relationships, and intimate histories. The pilot citizenship experiment is focused on the state of Assam in the Northeast, with injurious impact on its sizeable Muslim population. The last update to the NRC, published on August 31, 2019, reportedly excluded 486,000 Bangla Muslims. The burden of proof to verify citizenship status rests on the individual. 

The CAA and NRC authorize the collection of highly sensitive information by state agencies, stockpiling information as an instrument of biopower to regulate social life. The information accumulated includes individual demographic and biometric data, utilized for social engineering, prompting fear and isolation. Proof of inhabitance rendered by individuals from target communities is also routinely discredited or deemed inadmissible. Community knowledge holders say that most individuals incriminated as “foreigners” are local inhabitants with documentary evidence of belonging. Yet, numerous individuals have been declared “foreigners,” separated from their families, detained, and some have committed suicide. In February 2024, the BJP announced the nationalization of prejudicial citizenship. The thrust of this movement attests to a flatlining of law and democracy in India, normalizing the extraordinary power of the Narendra Modi-led BJP in militarizing the contention: “Who is Indian?” 

Saturday, June 3

9:30 - 10:00 AM

Breakfast and check-in

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Eritrea, Infopolitics, and the Power of Digital Media

Speaker: Victoria Bernal

Websites created and sustained by Eritreans in diaspora over the past several decades stand as one of the most significant initiatives undertaken independently of the state. Due to the Eritrean state’s pervasive domination of public life and orchestration of political expression, the online public sphere created by the diaspora has no equivalent of free press or civil society within Eritrea. Diaspora unsettles relations of belonging and citizenship while the internet facilitates political experimentation, making possible the development of new kinds of objects and spaces, and novel forms of political engagement that have no off-line counterpart.

Behind the Great Firewall: Understanding China's Internet Control and Censorship

Speaker: Xiao Qiang

In this short talk, we'll delve into how the state meticulously regulates the production and dissemination of information within its borders, shaping narratives and controlling access to online content. From the Great Firewall to sophisticated censorship mechanisms, we'll uncover the strategies employed by the Chinese government to manage the flow of information and maintain ideological control. Gain a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding freedom of expression and information in the digital age, and the implications it holds for both China and the global internet landscape.

12:30 - 1:30 PM


1:30 - 4:00 PM

SERVIR: Connecting Space to Village

Speaker: Daniel Irwin

SERVIR—Spanish for “to serve” integrates satellite imagery, forecast models, and in-situ data for improved environmental management, disaster preparedness and response, and improved access to weather and climate information. The SERVIR program was created by researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, together with the US Agency for International Development, to extend the benefits of NASA’s Earth science information to international partners (e.g. governments, universities, civil society) in lower- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. SERVIR puts previously inaccessible Earth observation data into the hands of decision makers, as the system has been used to address floods, drought, landslides, algal blooms, air quality, forest fires, and more.

Buy To Spy: How Data Purchases Are Being Used To Circumvent the Fourth Amendment, And How We Can Close This Loophole

Speaker: Jake Laperruque

What if police could pay to install a warrantless wiretap on your phone, or raid your house without judicial approval? This type of "buy to spy" conduct might seem unthinkable, but it's what happens every day when law enforcement purchases highly sensitive personal records — that generally requires court approval to obtain — from data brokers. In this discussion we'll examine how police and intelligence agencies exploit the Data Broker Loophole, and privacy advocates' efforts to enact legislation to fix this problem.

When & Where

Where: The Institute will be held at the current ORIAS office, at 1995 University Avenue, suite 510.

When: See the agenda to the left for daily schedule information. Please arrive during the breakfast and check-in period or at breaks.

Registration: Register via this form. You will get an immediate notification that your information was submitted, followed by a confirmation.

Accessibility: This summer institute is being held in an accessible location. If you are a disabled person and need reasonable accommodations to participate they will be provided. Please contact Shane Carter at to make a request. Service Dogs are welcome.

Transit & Parking: The ORIAS office is served by several AC Transit bus lines and the Downtown Berkeley BART station. If you choose drive, you may park in the lot behind/below 1995 University Ave, accessed via Bonita Avenue. ORIAS will provide parking passes for participants who park in this lot. Alternatively, you may pay for a variety of downtown parking options.

Golden Bear Building at 1995 University Avenue


"Anatomy of Unbelonging: Hindutva Citizenship and Muslim Dispossession" by Angana P. Chatterji in The Wire

"Digital media, territory, and diaspora: the shape- shifting spaces of Eritrean politics" by Victoria Bernal in Journal of African Cultural Studies

"Political Control" by Hassan, et al, in Annual Review of Political Science

"The Road to Digital Unfreedom: President Xi’s Surveillance State" by Xiao Qiang in Journal of Democracy

Articles related to data-brokering:

"House passes bill to limit personal data purchases by law enforcement, intelligence agencies" by Derek Johnson in Cyberscoop

"Top spy official releases principles on intel agency use of info bought from data brokers" by Tim Starks in Cyberscoop

"Office of Director of National Intelligence Framework on Data Purchases" from Office of the Director of National Intelligence, USA

"Framework Fact Sheet" from Office of the Director of National Intelligence, USA

"House unanimously passes bill to block data brokers from selling Americans’ info to foreign adversaries" by Suzanne Smalley in The Record

"Biden executive order targets U.S. data sales to adversaries like China, Russia" by Sam Sabin in Axios