Dr. Tonia Sutherland Collaborates with AfterLab, New Research Group

Dr. Tonia Sutherland has joined the team of AfterLab, along with the University of Washington’s iSchool’s Anna Lauren Hoffman, Marika Cifor, and Megan Finn.

AfterLab, a new research group at the iSchool, is dedicated to thinking about what happens after — the aftermath of disasters, afterlives of personal data, after careful attempts at ethical governance of technologies fail, and even what happens to our digital artifacts after we’re gone. Rather than cranking out prototypes and papers, the lab takes a longer view, looking at information science from critical and social science perspectives to learn how the uses of information urgently affect different people, especially those who have long been marginalized or oppressed.


Sutherland’s recent work has focused on what happens to people’s data after death, with an emphasis on what is archived and what is erased about the lives of Black people. She is the author of a forthcoming book on the topic, Digital Remains: Race and the Digital Afterlife (University of California Press, under contract).

Sutherland also brings an island perspective: “Islands and their infrastructures are particularly prone to the after-effects of continental policies and decision-making. Hawaiʻi is often an afterthought, tacked onto the corner of the U.S. map in ways that tend to minimize the impact of its geolocation in one of the most remote parts of the Pacific. Bringing University of Hawaiʻi students into the conversations we are having in AfterLab foregrounds this ‘aftering’ in interesting and important ways,” Sutherland said.

Read more about AfterLab at this article, and view AfterLab online!