Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium on Diversity

14th Annual Discerning Diverse Voices Research Symposium on Diversity

Wednesday, March 1, 2023; Hybrid Presentation and Free Registration

Under Observation: The Conditions of “Being Seen”

The College of Communication and Information Sciences is committed to promoting an environment that harbors and promotes diversity and inclusion and is proud to host the annual Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium on Diversity each Spring. Started in 2009 by Dr. Caryl Cooper, this symposium is a forum for the sharing of ideas from researchers, faculty, staff, alumni, and students, as well as diversity thought leaders from around the country.

Click here to access the Call for Proposals.

Click here to access the proposal submission form.

Click here to access information about accessibility and accommodations for persons with disabilities.

Click here to access the attendance registration form.

Click here to view the program.

Please also consider joining us for a pre-symposium film screening of “Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting” and a post-symposium methods workshop “Data Borders: Reimagining Technofutures”.

Keynote Presenter

Dr. Melissa Villa-Nicholas

Melissa Villa-Nicholas, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library And Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island. Her work focuses on the Latinx histories and practices of information and technology, immigrant information rights, and critical approaches to information science. She is the author of Latinas on the Line: Invisible Labor in Telecommunications (2022), Rutgers University Press, and Data Borders: How Silicon Valley is Building an Industry around Immigrant Data (Forthcoming 2023), University of California Press. 

Keynote: Data Borders: How Silicon Valley is Building an Industry to “Know” Immigrants

Abstract: This lecture investigates the emerging state of borderland technology that brings all people into an intimate place of surveillance where data resides and defines inclusion and exclusion to citizenship. Detailing the new trend of biologically mapping undocumented people through biotechnologies, Villa-Nicholas shows how Latinx immigrants are the focus and driving force for surveillance and technology design by Silicon Valley’s emerging industry within defense technology manufacturing. A murky network is revealed that gathers data on marginalized communities for purposes of exploitation and control that implicates law enforcement, border patrol, and ICE, but that also pulls in public workers and the public, often without their knowledge or consent. Enriched by interviews of Latinx immigrants living in the borderlands on their daily use of technology, and their caution around surveillance, this work argues that to move beyond a heavily surveilled state that dehumanizes both immigrants and citizens, we must understand how the data is being collected, aggregated, and correlated with artificial intelligence, and push for immigrant and citizen privacy information rights along the border and throughout the United States.

Keywords: Surveillance, Latinx/e immigrants, data privacy, data rights, immigrant rights,imagining technofutures 

Selected Works:

  1. Villa-Nicholas, M. (2022). Latinas on the line: Invisible information workers in telecommunications. Rutgers University Press.

  2. Sweeney, M. E., & Villa-Nicholas, M. (2022). Digitizing the “ideal” Latina information worker. American Quarterly, 74(1), 1–24.

  3. Villa-Nicholas, M. (2020). Data body milieu: The Latinx immigrant at the center of technological development. Feminist Media Studies, 20(2), 300–304.

Dr. Villa-Nicholas’s website

Participant Documents

Guide to Giving a Research Presentation

Guide to Creating a Research Poster

Sponsorship Opportunities

Support diversity research by becoming a sponsor of the Diversity Symposium! Sponsorships allow us to continue keeping this event free for all to attend, thus removing a potential barrier to full inclusion in this important conversation. For more information, or to receive an update on available sponsor levels, contact Laurie Wright, Director of Development, at 205-348-5868 or laurie.wright@ua.edu.

Previous Symposia Programs




2020 Pre-Symposium Panel








2013 Pre-Symposium Film Screening

Previous Symposia Recordings

2022 Keynote Presentation by Dr. André  Brock

2022 Presentation: Papers on Media Platforms

2022 Panel: Alabama Forensics Council (the Digital Dilemma)

2022 Panel: Communication and Culture: Graduate Student Works in Progress

2022 Panel: Stories Beneath our Feet: Communicating Campus Memory at PWI and HBCU Institutions

2022 Discussion Bubble Sponsored by Plank Center: Activating Emerging Public Relations Leaders in DEI

2022 Panel: Looking for Meaningful Representations in Film

2022 Presentation: Papers on Representation and Inclusion

2022 Presentation: Papers on Identity and Experience

2022 Panel: Developing Student “Voices” of Women of Color in Social Justice and Inclusion Advocacy

2022 Panel: New Wisdom, New Books on Teaching Race and Gender in Communication

2022 Panel: Graduate Students Creating Meaningful Diversity Impacts via Social Justice and Inclusion Advocacy

2021 Keynote Presentation by Dr. Kimberley Mangun

2021 Keynote Presentation Q&A

2021 Sponsor Panel

2020 Keynote Presentation by Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez