Tuesday, 16 November 2021, 09.00 AM-06.00 PM
Alles ist Data? Tout est Data!
From Official Statistics to Data-Activism - Exploring the Manufacture of Data in Lebanon
Private online attendance only
Economists, statisticians, researchers, activists, how do they work with numbers in Lebanon? How do they find them, disseminate them, aggregate them or conduct the research to collect them? It has become a common sense to criticize or deplore the absence (or sometimes more precisely the scarcity) of reliable statistics in a country like Lebanon, an observation that is not specific to it but recurrent throughout the region. In the Lebanese case, the issue of statistics is often reduced to an observation that has remained unchanged over time, based on a founding choice: the absence of a general population census since 1932. Other cases since then, such as the conflicts in the years 1990-2000 around the calculation of the GDP, price index, inflation, but also the absence of a reli-able count of the demonstrators, or even that of the victims of the August 4th explosion, regularly serve as reminders of a supposedly constant difficulty: that of quantifying social or economic phenomena in Lebanon.
However, it is easy to reverse the situation: such figures do appear in reports, official publications, press articles; they have their professionals, statisticians, economists, journalists, or nowadays data-scientists; they also have their institutions and companies, from the CAS - Center for Nation-al Statistics - to private consulting firms, banks, polling and marketing institutes, to NGOs and international organizations. Thus, rather than seeking to re-assess the gaps and unreliable figures, or those too politicized to be public, this workshop aims at sharing professional and daily experi-ences around existing figures. It brings together a series of professionals and actors in this field around a series of shared questions about their experience with figures.
The challenge of such a workshop is to ask differently seminal questions, through field-related and daily practices. It will address the scarcity of data, or conversely the multiplicity of contradic-tory data, their untraceable or unreadable character, the breaks in their periodicity, the negotia-tions to access data with certain actors - this last aspect touching on the challenge of identifying the multiple sites of archiving and conservation in order to have a historical depth.
The workshop will also address issues related to digital technologies, through the question of online transparency, open and big data, and data security - all the more important when it comes to personal data (for example medical), as they are possibly outsourced to service providers, and this in a country where laws on this point are - at best - fragmentary. The question of digital data relates to a more global issue, that of the future of data in Lebanon, both in the sense of their ar-chiving and future availability, but also of the evolution of the work itself, be it institutions or the type of data.
The workshop in two parts - in Lebanon (Beirut, 16 November 2021) and in Egypt (Cairo, 6 De-cember 2021) - will aim at questioning on the one hand these daily practices, and on the other hand the academic view on the issue of statistics in a non-European space, particularly in the MENA region, the issue being still lagging behind compared to the debates of the last few years concerning the African continent (notably through the work of Boris Samuel and Morten Jerven).
9:00 - Morning coffee
9:15 - Welcome note
9:30 - First rountable / Statistics In and Out the State
- Riad Saadé - CREAL
- Robert Kasparian - former director of the Central Administration of Statistics (subject)
11:30 - Break
11:45 - Second rountable / Working with Numbers - Doing Quantitative Research in Lebanon
- Nanor Karageozian - UN-Habitat
- Rosalie Berthier & Peter Harling - Synaps
- UNDP (Subject)
13:15 - Lunch Break (buffet)
14:30 - Third rountable / Towards data-driven decisions?
- Carole Sharabaty & Theodore Caponis - Siren Associates
- Hilda Harb - Ministry of Health
16:15 - Break
16:30 - Fourth roundtable / Data activism in Lebanon
- Assaad Thebian - Al Gherbal
- Marc Farra - Open Map Lebanon
- Marianne Rahmé - Smex
18:30 – Drinks in the garden