Border Quants

From left to right: Heather Ross, Marisa Duarte, Jacque Wernimont, Marika Cifor, Patricia Garcia, and Jessica Rajko.

From left to right: Heather Ross, Marisa Duarte, Jacque Wernimont, Marika Cifor, Patricia Garcia, and Jessica Rajko.

Border Quants is a collective of artists and scholars conducting research related to digital human rights, personal data protection, and decolonial approaches to data use. The collaborating artists include Jessica Rajko, Marisa Elena Duarte, Jacqueline Wernimont, Patricia Garcia, Heather Ross, and Marika Cifor. "Border Quants" investigates the following questions:

  • What is the long history of uses of data with regard to cycles of oppression and discrimination?
  • What are decolonizing approaches to using and creating data, algorithms, and interfaces?
  • How do we perform data and how does data perform us?
Photo by Tim Trumble

Photo by Tim Trumble

The collective is currently int the formative stages of is collaborative research. In this we are learning how each other’s areas of expertise—from dance, rhetoric, clinical care, information studies, borderlands, and Indigenous studies—can shape each other’s discursive and methodological approaches to the phenomena of embodiment and quantification. Given the diversity of the research team, we have developed a methodological focal point to help us build a shared practice and common working language. To organize our work we will each complete a distinct project focusing on the use of an object - the Jawbone UP3 – as it relates to intersectional feminist understandings of borderlands thought and practice. 

The Jawbone UP3 is a consumer-based, bracelet-type activity monitor that incorporates an accelerometer as well as bioimpedance sensor to measure heart rate, respirations, and galvanic skin response. Working with the Jawbone UP3 as a focal device, and leveraging our disciplinary and transdisciplinary expertise, we will ask the following questions:

  • How does this wearable device shape the regulation and production of knowledge about human bodies in transborder contexts?
  • In what ways is this device allowing us to “perform data,” or enabling data to “perform us?” How do these performances reify, challenge, or disrupt existing spatial and epistemological boundaries and borders?
  • How do specific rights and privacy concerns around tracking devices of this kind relate to normative and customary rights regimes across various borderlands?
  • What are the unique advantages in using such devices in transborder contexts?


This work is generously supported by the ASU Program for Transborder Communities Seed Grant.