Chapter 5: Data in the context of intervention and statebuilding
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More, better and disaggregated data is a mantra now in policy-making. Accompanied by the words ‘statistics', ‘indicators’, ‘methodology’ and ‘technology’, they form a set of guidelines for information production and political action. Today there is no major form of intervention in international affairs that is not monitored and evaluated against a set of indicators. Through this pervasive presence, indicators go from been perceived as one form of producing knowledge to being what knowledge is. They become the measure of what can be known about reality, so much so that indicators themselves are interventions. As activists, academics and civil society in general get caught in the pressure to produce numerical data for indicators, there has been little room to question quantification itself as the way of performing politics. Instead, practical pressures push for trying to work around, with and inside ‘method and data regimes’. Data are indeed needed but as we go about fortifying the data industry, there is also a need to qualify these quantifying practices, to highlight ethical considerations and to discuss the role of non-quantifying knowledge in current statebuilding practices.

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