Individual paper. Risky Bodies: Vaccination and the Biopolitics of Vaccination Status
Vaccines are lauded as modern medical miracles. Within current mainstream discourse about vaccines, those who do not vigorously espouse this are frequently pointed to as anti-vaccine. To be marked as anti-vaccine is tantamount to being considered anti-science. Then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s position on vaccination has seen questions about vaccination safety and the safety of specific vaccines grouped in the category of “alternative facts,” with vaccine hesitancy becoming a poster child for science denial alongside Creationism and climate change denial. However, to only consider vaccines and vaccination within this framework limits our view. What can we see if we step outside of this framework and its barrier, if we consider vaccines as technologies engaged in biopolitical work? In this paper I will zoom out to analyse how vaccines function to create invisible borders. I will demonstrate how vaccination status functions as a technology to classify bodies as safe, risky, or vulnerable; how vaccination status has become a way to classify which bodies are healthy and which aren’t; and how vaccination status becomes a marker of biological citizenship. I will show how the same body can be taken up and interpellated differently by different discourses, and the engagement of these discourses with industry. Drawing from interviews with parents about their health beliefs and vaccination choices, I will argue that different epistemological understandings of health influence different vaccination choices, and that selective or non-vaccination can represent a form of resistance to Allopathic medicine’s construction of health and healthy bodies.
Individual paper. Bulletproof Neoliberals: Rethinking Accelerationism and the Biohacker Within the Logic of Intensity
This paper problematizes accelerationism as a viable alternative to leftist politics and suggests in the end that accelerationism is a form of neoliberal resilience. It does this through an analysis of the biohacker that reframes this subject in terms of accelerationism and the logic of intensity. I argue that the biohacker is the accelerationist subject Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek advocate for in their “Accelerationist Manifesto,” suggesting this accelerationist subject is, in the end, a neoliberal subject that fits easily within the conditions of competition. This paper argues that the biohacker in its numerous forms reflects an underlying pure neoliberalism at work within accelerationism and its neoliberal governmentalities. I want to suggest here that far from being an alternative to leftist politics, accelerationism may further the goals of neoliberalism in its desire to accelerate to a purified market space. The more recent forms of accelerationism, whether it be Nick Land’s cyberpunk accelerationism or Williams’ and Srnicek’s Promethean Mastery, are driven, I argue, by neoliberal notions of the individual, competition, and technology, that in the end, while perhaps not intended, furthers what I think is the ultimate goal of neoliberalism at its purest: to compete without limits, where the only rules are those that protect competition. I want to push this point further to suggest that neoliberal accelerationism is another way of expressing a need for becoming more resilient in order to face the insecurities, the precarities, and the deprivations of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is in many ways accelerative both in its abstractions and in its everyday material conditions. I am skeptical of the utopian possibilities of a “pure market accelerated out of capitalism altogether” (Benjamin Noys, 2014, 55). In the context of neoliberalism, this pure market beyond capitalism, which is a highly decoded and deterritorialized space, would not eliminate the competition for competition’s sake that I am suggesting is part of neoliberal accelerationism.
Appalachians Against Pipelines
Workshop. Direct Action Training
Matt Waserman of the Indypendent, in his review of David Graeber's Direct Action: An Ethnography, writes that "Social theory grows out of the sediment left behind by social movements, systematizing the advances made in practice at the level of theory.” Thus this workshop, a direct action training led by organizers with Appalachians Against Pipelines, exists on the front lines of theory and practice. As capitalism accelerates its abuses and its contradictions, direct action offers a way out of the realm of political spectacle. Come learn with us. Then take action!"
Multi-authored paper. Disability, Experience, and Technological Imagination: First Stage Findings from Narrative Research
See A Shew.
Multi-authored workshop. (Re)creating the posture portraits: Artistic and technological (re)productions of the gendered (re)presentations of bodies at institutions of higher education: Past, present and future.
See J Lee.
Film and talk back. The Myth of Self Care for Students of Color at Predominantly White Institutions Black lesbian Caribbean-American feminist Audre Lorde wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” (Lorde, 1988, p.131). When black feminist or transnational feminist, talk about self-care we are often referring to self-care as an essential survival skill which requires us to take care of our bodies at a time where bodies of color on a regular basis experience violence and aggression daily. Yet while easily defined, self-care, for those not in the majority, is hard to practice in reality. This especially so for students of color at their various intersections (low income, first generation, immigrant), at institutions of higher education across the nation, especially in the current political climate where people of color are literally putting their bodies on the line to fight racial and other types of injustice. As such a study that seeks to examine the institutionalization of self-care at colleges and universities and the results that come with this approach both for the institutions and the students is necessary. This documentary presentation engages with students of color at a predominantly white liberal arts college about their difficulty practicing selfcare. It grapples with questions such as, what does self-care mean to you? Can students of color at institutions of higher education engage in self-care? If so, how do they? If not what fundamental changes have to be made so that these students can be given the chance to care for themselves? How does the historical foundations of, as well as currently political climate in the US prevent them from engaging in self-care? What more can institutions do to assist students? The well-being of the literal bodies of these students require answers to these questions.
Individual paper. ICT-Facilitated Violence Against Women in Elections: Unveiling Global Patterns and Trends
Online spaces are the arena for many acts that violate individuals’ or groups’ political rights on the basis of their gender-identity (Bardall 2013, 2017). Harm committed against women with the intent and/or impact of interfering with their free and equal participation in the electoral process during the electoral period (known as violence against women in elections and politics, VAWE/P (Bardall 2013, IFES 2016)) occurs across social media and adversely impacts a range of civic and political activities (candidates, civic activists, journalists, public administrators, etc.). Building on conceptual presentations of “VAWE-online” (Bardall 2013, 2017; Krook and Restrepo 2015; IFES 2017) and growing recognition of gender-specific online forms of abuse (Women’s Media Center, 2017), this paper explores cross-national trends of VAWE-Online drawing on an original dataset from six countries worldwide. Using a unique model for empirically measuring VAWE-online through a structured sentiment analysis and translating VAWE theory into an operational framework, the model assess the presence of VAWE-online across multiple dimensions and identifies patterns of abusive behavior distinct to online spaces. The model is tested on the six countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United States, Ukraine, Zimbabwe) on a sample of over 3000 male and female candidates, election staff, journalists, activists and public figures, through research conducted with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Results presented here deepen understanding of the nature of VAWE-online through the findings and present a globally-adaptable tool for the empirical analysis of this emerging challenge to gender equality in political participation.
Individual paper. Anatomy of an Egg Freezing Infomercial: Where “Our Fertility, Ourselves” Meets “Fertility (A)ware” Party
Six years ago when the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the experimental label on oocyte preservation it carefully cautioned against women using the technology to postpone pregnancy for non-medical reasons, often referred to as social egg freezing (SEF) (2013). Unlike the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology the reluctance of the ASRM to fully support SEF has been due to a lack of data demonstrating sufficient efficacy for a procedure which would put healthy women through medically invasive and costly burdens without an absolute guarantee for a future pregnancy from the frozen oocytes. Although the ASRM statement did not endorse SEF, it actually had the effect of unleashing unrestrained commercialization of SEF as the distilled version of its message, “egg freezing is no longer experimental,” overtook any cautionary recommendations discouraging nonmedical applications of the technique in mainstream news and popular media. New York City is a major hub for SEF. It is the location of many for-profit fertility clinics as well as single working women who are the targets of clinic marketing strategies. Through participant observation at two egg freezing informational events in New York City, I analyze the art of persuasion employed in these information sessions cum commercials focusing on what information is withheld, and how these events cultivate anxiety, and link SEF to desireable traits or lifestyles. I contextualize them against the background of classic forms of event organizing designed for and by women such as health consciousness raising and entrepreneurship as embodied in Our Bodies, Ourselves and tupperware. Indeed, the SEF infomercial demonstrates how the anatomy of information relates to the constitution of particularly feminized bodies and lives, speculative reproduction and family futurism. The meaning of reproduction shifts when it is no longer contingent upon the deliverable of a baby but the production of a particular form of “sociable happiness” (as per Sara Ahmed) in the presently imagined future.
Individual paper. Imagining Feminist Futures on the Small Screen? Inclusion and Care in VR Worlds
Virtual reality signifies not only immersive media technology, but also a cultural desire to allow bodies to inhabit other worlds as easily as pushing a button or putting on goggles. As the VR industry has grown, so too have popular imaginings of its potential. We draw on feminist technoscience studies to analyze and evaluate recent VR science fiction media narratives. How do they articulate VR’s role in our collective future? Who moves between worlds? How do these worlds relate to one another? While Steven Spielberg’s would-be blockbuster Ready Player One (2018) offers a techno-masculine hero narrative. In contrast to RPO, streaming small screen science fiction narratives have instead asked the extent to which VR can save people. A surprisingly consistent trope has emerged in these shows: one of VR as a therapeutic tool for a woman coping with trauma. While certainly a departure from RPO’s Hollywood vision of VR, this analysis examines the extent to which episodes of Reverie, Maniac, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and Black Mirror offer a feminist vision of VR.
Individual paper. Biomedical Logics of Life and Death and Their Gendered Implications
Animacy is a quality of agency, sentience, and liveliness strategically conferred according to socioscientific standards. It is “a category mediated not by whether you are a couch, a piece of lead, a human child, or an animal but by how you interpret the thing of concern and how dynamic you wish it to be” (Chen 2017, 305). In this paper, I interrogate the diagnosis of brain death in pregnant women whose bodies are maintained on "life" support for days or weeks to continue the gestation of their fetuses. I demonstrate how these "postmortem pregnancies" show the permeability of the animate/inanimate binary and the differential deployment of these categories of being according to gender. In doing so, I discuss the importance of understanding the indeterminacy of biological life and death for feminist theory, medical practice, and law.
Individual paper. "Now I could be the former fatty who turned into a brain. Or an athlete. Or a princess.": Weight loss and gender in Netflix's Insatiable
Fatness isn’t something that can be hidden. It can, however, be constructed. Fat suits have been used in entertainment for decades in TV and movies to tell stories about fat people and what being fat means. Frequently, fat suits are used when a character used to be fat as a comedic plot line. They allow thin actors to quickly ‘gain’ weight, but they do much more than that. Depictions of thin actors in fat suits serve a purpose. “Fatness is often used as a motif to tell the story of one's upward, or downward, mobility" (Farrell, 2011). They wear poorly fitted clothes, are often seen eating, and their gender expression is diluted. Fat characters are often shown being ridiculed or bullied for their fatness, especially as it relates to their perceived level of gender conformity and sexual availability. Media representations of women revolve around their sexual attractiveness. If they do not conform to the normative Western requirements for feminine attractiveness, they face being ostracized (Gill, 2007). In addition, the fetishization of weight loss is abundant in popular culture. Like rags-to-riches stories, these serve very specific hegemonic purposes: the once unpopular and disheveled fat girl is now a thin, sexy woman with perfect style. This is seen dramatically with the use of fat suits. Characters in fat suits help brand fatness as a transition period, an obstacle in the way of their happiness and success. Using Netflix’s original show Insatiable as a case study, this study examines the ways gender and fatness intersect to construct a narrow narrative of fatness, weight loss, and gender. This study asks the following questions: How does fatness influence gender expression? How are fat suits used to dilute a character’s gender? How do weight loss narratives play into gender roles? This paper uses Foucault’s theories of self-discipline and surveillance and Judith Butler’s concept of doing gender to understand the ways women are expected to discipline their bodies. A qualitative content analysis of Insatiable will analyze the following categories: gender identity, gender expression, weight loss, fatness, sex, success, food, and body violence.
Workshop. A T-Shirt Looks at Gender and the Global Garment Industry
This hands-on workshop uses the ordinary T-shirt as a window into the global garment industry, with a particular focus on the ways gender (intersecting with race, class, age, and national origin) influences all stages of a T-shirt’s life course—from its gestation in cotton farms and textile mills to its fabrication, retail sale, and consumption to its afterlife in second-hand “rag” markets. The (often gendered) T-shirts with which people cover their gendered (and sexed) bodies depend on multiple technologies that reflect, produce, and sometimes challenge existing gender relations. Using text, images, videos, podcasts, and material objects, the workshop facilitator will take participants on a typical T-shirt’s life journey: from cotton grown (often) in the United States to factories in the global South, where workers—mostly women from poor families—turn fabric into garments, to wealthy countries where tees are sold, worn, and frequently discarded and shipped to poor countries. Garment work can be liberating, but also stigmatizing; it causes health problems but brings needed income. Rich countries “dumping” used clothing in poor countries harms local textile industries but offers opportunities for income via creative reuse. Workshop participants will be encouraged to bring unwanted T-shirts to the workshop, and the facilitator will have a supply on hand (along with scissors, crochet implements, etc.). We will begin by sorting the shirts by country of manufacture and fiber. After an overview of the chain of T-shirt production and consumption, we will learn how to turn unwanted T-shirts into yarn (which can be knitted or crocheted into other things) or otherwise upcycle them. (Note: The shirt-to-yarn process includes a stage that looks a LOT like a ribcage!) Possible “products” include scarfs, potholders, wine bottle bags, and boutonnieres. Ideally, we could create items that were emblematic of the conference, or which could used or donated to support activism or community outreach. Participants will leave the workshop with resources for teaching about gender in the global garment industry as well as new insights into their own clothing choices—not to mention new arts-and-crafts skills.
Individual paper. “You might never have that kind of child yourself”: Eugenics, Governmentality, and Ambivalent Resistance in Contemporary China
Engaging with data from social media, official documents, and popular printed media, this paper examines the convergence and divergence of rhetorical discourse between the Chinese state and the middle-class Chinese about reproduction in the 21st century from the perspective of Foucauldian feminism. I argue that the state policies and discourse of population quality are forms of governmentality and soul-making, as Foucault argues in Discipline and Punish, that are shaping the class subjectivity of middle-class Chinese citizens. In contemporary China, official Chinese policies and discourses increasingly emphasize population quality. Meanwhile, middle-class Chinese deploy trendy rhetoric about qualifications for parenthood as a way to mark class boundaries and subjectivities. Eugenic ideologies are shared by the state and the middle-class. However, the convergence of discourses does not lead to identical reproductive intentions. A “high-quality” population that is able to reproduce itself sustainably is the goal of the state. Thus, for middle-class Chinese, one is expected to renounce reproduction when not qualified to produce the ‘perfect’ child. Consequently, the fertility rate among middle-class Chinese is far below the replacement rate. This divergence could be recognized as a form of resistance and possibility-making. However, feminist intersectional critiques of white feminism warn us against simply celebrating resistance. I identify the intersectional social exclusions produced by this middle-class rhetorical discourse, or “technologic,” and how this rhetoric is an intertwined product of and fuel for capitalism, consumerism, and postcolonialism.
Workshop. Surveillance Survey: Opening the Open Record
How free is information under freedom of information laws? As we engage in debate on the utility of police body cameras to critical social movements, the interface between surveillance and privacy, and creating government accountability for discriminatory violence, the cameras continue to roll. We cannot study what they capture, if we cannot see it. This interactive workshop explores and instructs techniques of open records request and retrieval, legal limitations, practical challenges, and creative negotiations for non-lawyers to obtain law enforcement video surveillance, body or dashboard camera footage, police department technology policies, and government social media. As an attorney I have trained municipal clerks on best legal practices for records retention and disclosure; been retained to rendered legal opinions on the release of investigative files; and litigated to compel government disclosure of records and policies for citizens, academics, and journalists. This workshop will provide the practical tools to challenge and study the surveillance state, through its own eyes.
Individual paper. Dating Data: ‘Gay Hookup Apps’ and the Consumer-Criminal Grid of HIV/AIDS
In April 2018, news broke that the most popular “gay hookup app,” Grindr, “with 3.6 million daily active users across the world,” had shared data of users’ HIV status with the software and marketing development companies Appitimize and Localytics. The information included global positioning system (GPS) location and phone ID, alongside user disclosed information regarding the date of one’s last HIV test; racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual identities; sexual position; and more. Some of this information was encrypted. Yet, there remained concern that data was shared via “‘plain text,’ which can be easily hacked.” Grindr maintains itself as a global “public forum” meant to challenge discrimination.[i] It has reformed its policy regarding data sharing, and launched campaigns to battle racial, gender, and sexual discrimination; body shaming; and HIV stigma. Nonetheless, it continues to mine the data to develop algorithms and sell ad space. HIV research and testing recruitment, as well as corporate pharmaceutical companies promoting the HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and penile erectile dysfunction treatments, use Grindr to target queer and trans people of color. Additionally, Grindr data has been utilized as evidence to convict Black and Brown queer men for criminal HIV transmission. This paper analyzes the harvesting of HIV data for profit and criminalization on social networking platforms. Drawing upon women of color feminist and queer of color scholars in science and technology studies, including Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, José E. Muñoz, and others, I first trace this practice to the late 1990s, during the earlier years of the Internet wherein the pioneering of HIV behavioral sciences was combined with promoting pharmaceutical initiatives to administer effective anti-retroviral therapy for those living with HIV. Next, I address the converging histories of virology, epidemiology, social sciences, and consumer marketing to examine how the remedy to the AIDS pandemic has turned away from addressing structural inequities towards the focus on consumer identification and the criminalization of behavior through acute forms of geolocational data surveillance.
Individual paper. Violent desires: a feminist discourse analysis of the online world of ‘incels
Moments before perpetrating a deadly van attack that killed ten and injured fourteen in Toronto, Alek Minassian posted on Facebook, “Incel Rebellion has already begun! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Nikolas Cruz, the Florida gunman who opened fire at his high school and killed seventeen, commented under a YouTube video, “Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten.” While both posts referenced Elliot Rodger, a spree killer who killed six and wounded more than a dozen others in Isla Vista, the common threads woven through the two terrible acts of violence are the online world of ‘incel’ that canonized Rodger, and the communications in the ‘incel’ community that fuels the radicalization of sexually frustrated men. The term ‘incel’ stands for ‘involuntarily celibate,’ and the online ‘incel’ community unites men of various backgrounds by their inability to convince women to have consensual sex with them. There are several subreddits and internet forums dedicated to the large ‘incel’ universe, and the online message board incels.me is the dominant channel within the ‘incel’ community. In this article, I identify and analyze incels’ notions of masculinity and embodiment in the online space. Specifically, I analyze communications on incels.me to identify the key features of communications in this community that fuels the radicalization of sexually frustrated men. The analysis reveals that an exclusive online lexicon which objectifies and dehumanizes women, complicated socio-political explanations for ‘incel’s inability to attain sexual fulfillment, and a collective narrative that celebrates learned helplessness and incites violence catalyze the process of turning sexually frustrated men to embrace radical anti-woman and male supremacy ideology. The analysis also demonstrates the pertinence of the technological affordances of online message boards in amplifying this new iteration of hegemonic masculinity. These findings provoke important questions about mental health among men and representations of masculinity in online spaces.
Individual paper. #AIDSMemorial: Memory Resistance and the Disruptive Animacy of AIDS Archiving on Instagram
Scrolling Instagram I pause at a face I do not know. White, handsome, young, queer, his blue eyes pierce me through the decades that its muted colors indicate stand between us. Before I identify the account or read the caption, I anticipate from where this image intercedes. The contours of this face and story are particular, yet it is also one in a vast catalog of losses The AIDS Memorial (TAM) shares daily. TAM preserves AIDS’ remembrance through crowd-sourced words and pictures that it’s moderator tags “#whatisrememberedlives.” The ways that AIDS is visiblized and affectively charged through images, narratives, and hashtags holds vital implications for AIDS’ past, present, and future. From TAM’s perspective “memory is an act of resistance” (Reed & Castiglia 2011, 22), a counter to the forgetting and misrepresentation of AIDS. By charting lives lost—largely white, gay men cut down in their prime in the pre-1996 American AIDS crisis--TAM aims to remediate the loss of knowledge between generations. Such resistant education practices do matter. However, I argue that the ongoingness of AIDS and those who continue to be put at greatest risk (trans people, people of color, poor people) require a more radical documentation practice. The socio-technical affordances of Instagram offer an unfulfilled promise of disruptive animacy for AIDS archiving. In users’ feeds, records are queered, shown out of order, dislocated from original contexts, remixed with other persons, decades, formats, and styles. This lack of coherent linearity along with the active engagement demanded by viewers’ trouble the problematic dominant confinement of AIDS to the temporal regime of the past. Re-inserting AIDS into the everyday in a culture where AIDS is conceived, if at all, as a tragedy belonging elsewhere, or in the past, makes a powerful political statement. Whether TAM can actually fulfill its queer technological and archival promise of moving the past in service of a more just present and future remains an open question.
Individual paper. Anonymous Sperm: The Role of Technology, Secrecy, and the State in Shaping Donor-Conceived Families
This paper develops the “socio-technical contract” concept, a notion that signifies the kinds of socio-technological assumptions and arrangements that characterize a particular domain of policy or practice. Socio-technical contracts, unlike their social contract counterparts in political theory, represent active negotiation and renegotiation of social contracts around emerging technologies, as opposed to the tacit social contracts of thinkers such as Locke. I use the socio-technical contract concept to analyze the governance of assisted reproductive technologies in the United Kingdom. For increasing numbers of people, reproduction is happening in a fundamentally different way. Conception outside of the womb became a reality with the 1978 birth of Louise Brown, the first baby born via in-vitro fertilization. Alongside Louise Brown’s birth emerged new social and governance configurations around reproductive technologies, including, in the United Kingdom, the establishment of a national regulatory agency, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The paper applies the socio-technical contract concept in order to examine how distributed governance and socio-cultural processes in the British context worked over time to renegotiate fundamental ideas about families and kinship, the boundaries of “ethical” science, rules governing release of information, the “right to an identity,” the role of the state in the reproductive choices of individuals, and general approaches to how to think about the roles and relationships of the child, parents, and the state in and around the introduction of these technologies. As these changes have occurred, policies, social understandings, and legal rights have been renegotiated and new governance capacities—what I call “anticipatory capacities”—have come into existence to manage and coordinate change across complex social systems. In illuminating anticipatory capacities in each context, I explore the tools deployed by government actors, scientists, stakeholders, and citizens in negotiating evolving socio-technical contracts around reproductive technologies.
Workshop. Healing as Resistance
I propose a workshop/performance/somatic experience that invites participants to explore the relationship between healing and resistance. In particular, I'm interested in asking how we feel "resistance" and "healing" -- how we come to know it, as embodied, within ourselves, and how we come to witness it in others. This can take many different, simultaneous, elusive and often nuanced forms which play between the space of "narrative" and "non-narrative." I would likely offer up Authentic Movement, as well as other somatic frameworks, as a vehicle for traversing inner landscapes and investigating the power of "body knowledge."
Co-authored performance/Live podcast taping. Lean Back LIVE
Lisa M. Corrigan and Laura Weiderhaftwill do a live recording of their nationally acclaimed podcast, "Lean Back: Critical Feminist Conversations." Named the top podcast in Arkansas and one of the top 35 podcasts in America by Paste magazine in 2017, "Lean Back" showcases feminist theoretical interventions, political commentary, and engaging analysis of contemporary public events and phenomena, this live recording will be features on Season 6 of the podcast.
Co-authored paper. Centering reproductive justice praxis in the University classroom through the feminist science shop
Feminist science studies scholars have provided us with tools over the last few decades to reject both the idea of absolute neutrality and relativism, thereby well positioning FSS scholars to intervene in this political moment where questions of objectivity, truth, and alternative facts are being debated. These FSS tools allow us to understand that all knowledge is contextual and that we have power over which values we want to shape our inquiries. The feminist science shop is one such approach. The feminist science shop is a model for practicing feminist science research with explicit commitments to social justice. In this model, non-academic community members partner with academic researchers within the University to pose research questions that are most important to them and their communities, and work in partnership to carry out the research together. In this presentation we perform a dialogue between a faculty and graduate student researcher working on the feminist shop project to elucidate the potential for creating movement on conversations on objectivity in feminist studies classrooms. In our feminist science shop project, students and faculty at the University of California, Davis partnered with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) to carry out collaborative, feminist science research concerning breast cancer and environmental toxins in California Latina/x/o communities. In this project we drew from feminist science and reproductive justice frameworks to inform our teaching and praxis as we reread existing scientific literature using critical feminist science literacy, and sought to produce more democratic, feminist science research that responded to and emerged from community concerns and broader histories and contexts of the reproductive justice movement. Using this project as a case study, we draw on student reflections combined with our own reflections to understand how the specific partnering with a reproductive justice organization allowed for us to ground knowledge production in values of anti-racism and feminism. We found through this project that students continued to believe in the value of science while strongly critiquing objectivity. We discuss the potential of seeing reproductive justice as a feminist science itself and the possibilities for broadening this approach to develop more feminist sciences.
Individual paper. Three Square Meals a Day: Biopolitics and the (Re)Production of (Dis)Order
Following the mid-1970s, a major spike in eating disorders occurred in both the United States and the United Kingdom. This paper examines how the Western food production regime contributed to this rise, and examines how the social construction of femininity renders women more susceptible to the development of eating disorders. Corporate actors within the sugar and diet food industries continuously draw upon and manipulate this construction in an effort to create a favorable relationship between women and their products, and code women’s bodies in ways that promote this relationship. This process is undergirded by the ideology of neoliberalism, which exploits the constituted identity of the female subject as it reinforces the current capitalist economic system. Ultimately, this paper will shed light on how corporations within the sugar industry seek to manage women’s bodies and promote their role as consumers in a way that ensures that women will continue to be a primary source of capital. As both Lauren Berlant (2007) and Alison Kafer (2013) note, the rigid binaries that are imposed on concepts such as “order” and “disorder,” (mentally and/or physically) “able” and (mentally and/or physically) “disabled,” as well as “pure” and “impure” are often done so in a phallocentric manner that reifies both “ableist” and sexist assumptions about the subjects who are grouped into the less desirable/less visible categories in each of these dichotomies. Additionally, these medicalized distinctions often reinforce essentialist notions of identity, and represent a form of knowledge production that continues to perpetuate social inequality as well as the neoliberal logic of capital accumulation and strict self-management. Thus, this paper explores the specific ways that the sugar and diet food industries reproduce stereotypes of physical normality that both draw upon, and reinforce, the medicalization of disordered patterns of eating when advertising their products.
Individual paper. Domesticated by Energy: Fuel Transitions and Political Domination
The two most momentous energy transitions in the history of the human species were arguably the shift to agriculture and the advent of fossil fuel systems. Both shifts also corresponded to dramatic changes in political order, as well as shifts in the organization of the household according to gendered relations of power. Both shifts are often understood through a progressive narrative, in which human technical ingenuity resulted in a spectacular accumulation of goods and power. The traditional civilization narrative likewise structures dominant assumptions about the next energy transition: humans must invent fuel technologies that will bebat least as cheap and powerful as fossil fuel systems, and hopefully more so. However, recent research into both the agricultural and fossil fuel transitions challenges the traditional civilization narrative, and therefore should force us to rethink how we mobilize for the next energy transition. In both transitions, it appears that a new energy system arises because it promises advantages for political domination, and not primarily as a result of technological problem-solving and superiority. This article draws upon this new research to make two contributions: First, it puts these vastly different historical periods into conversation in order to distill themes that might travel across major energy transitions. Second, I propose Patricia Owens’ theory of household rule as a means by which to understand the long-standing human history of energy domination via infrastructure, materials, technologies, and (re)productive control. Applying household rule to energy studies opens up an ecofeminist perspective on fuel transitions. Instead of reading energy transitions as technological innovations, an ecofeminist perspective appreciates how these fuel shifts also relied upon innovations in household rule by which elites learned new ways to domesticate plant, animal, and human insurgents. Finally, the article concludes by applying these insights to the renewable transition that the planet urgently needs.
Multi-authored workshop. Playing with Our Selves: Examining Life Through Virtual Media, Parts I and II.
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Moving in the Face of the Apocalypse: Mobility and Doomsday Preppers
The last decade the practice of doomsday prepping has risen to pop culture phenomena. The Doomsday prep implicitly relies on mobility as a central feature. Preppers must be able to move to escape the impending apocalypse, and the ability to move is inherently political. Two major groups emerge when discussing doomsday prep: the rich and the working class. The rich are able to afford to be both mobile and to be still, while working class preppers must be ever mobile with only the hope of stillness and safety. Both move to remain still, but only one group has a real guarantee of safety though. Both of these groups stand in solidarity and contrast with the people that their prepping notably leaves behind: resource constrained communities such as urban people of color. These groups are left immobile as the both metaphorical and literal walking dead as years of white flight, police harassment, and underfunded urban infrastructure have led to urban necropolitics. In turn the extremely white masculine doomsday prep recreates what Sarah Sharma calls the male exit. These preppers are literally exiting from civilized society and the conditions of oppression and immobility they are historically implicated in, replicating often how masculine figures are able to leave domestic space and ethics of care. By analyzing the Doomsdayprep.com website and general prepper texts like the tv show Doomsday Preppers, I argue that the doomsday prep politics of mobility reinforce and reproduce current structures of inequality ingrained in American society.
Multi-authored workshop. Playing with Our Selves: Examining Life Through Virtual Media, Parts I and II.
See J Murray.
Multi-authored performance. Three Hysterical Women: Embodying Resistance Through Theatre
"Three Hysterical Women: Explorations of Feminine Rage" is an original, theatrical production that embodies creative resistance against oppressive stereotypes and violence. We propose a reflective presentation on this work, which tackles truth-telling, fashion technology, colorism, the Me Too and Times Up movements, and white nationalism in the wake of Charlottesville and the recent attack in Pittsburgh. This new work will be performed on the Virginia Tech campus January 24 & 25, 2019, followed by a talk-back after the final performance. We propose a presentation sharing the artists' processes in conceiving and performing Three Hysterical Women, a collaborative venture combining three original solo shows into one theatrical production: Being B.A.D., by Brittney S. Harris, explores the lengths one goes to in deciding to take back personal power after physical and sexual abuse: 1 in 4 is not just a number, it's a declaration for change. Brainwashed: Hair, A Ritual, by Devair Jeffries, explores the inner psychosis of a Black woman's journey to embrace her natural hair, despite others' assumptions about her racial identity. She ultimately decides to persist in loving her hair as well as herself, resisting the urge to be brainwashed by other people's perceptions. Sisrahtac, by Nicole Dietze, responds to white supremacism and the recent violence in Charlottesville and Pittsburgh by giving the audience a glimpse of an angry woman's waterlogged heart. This piece dances with the surreal and absurd while responding to the generational impact of historical trauma. Our presentation will share our individual creative processes, as well as the collaborative process of creating one unified production. We will also discuss our responses to performing, and the audience's reception as assessed through the post-show talk-back.
Individual paper. The Problem of the Sexy Cyborg: Transhumanism, Gender, and Morphological Freedom
Transhumanists uphold the human right to morphological freedom, the right to alter (or not) one’s self to whatever ends one wants without suffering political or socio-economic repercussions. They believe that this freedom of morphology will render politically unimportant social categories such as race and gender. However, the sorts of visual and narrative stories that transhumanists tell themselves and the world belie such a politically-neutral stance toward gender. Using images produced and referenced by the Transhumanist community, as well as images from fictional depictions of future cyborg bodies, I will re-politicize the body, and particularly the gendered body, in transhumanism. Alongside current and historical trends in body modification, I will illustrate how the availability of alteration leads not to a wide variety of body morphologies, but instead to a singular bodily organization that is considered “best.” From ugly laws around the turn of the 20th century, to cosmetic surgery invented after the Civil War to make soldiers disfigured in combat able to be accepted back into society, the dominant goal of bodily alteration has always been to fit the normative expectations of appearance. The transhumanist vision is not likely to be different without a serious reformation of our social mores. As a beginning of a solution, I will sketch out a radical new way to consider identity and the politics thereof which may allow for both a wider variety of bodily morphologies, but also a more robust vector of resistance to the sorts of dominant hegemonies reified by the transhumanist narratives.
Individual paper. Hierarchical Medicalization, Reproductive Rights, Sterilization, and the Production of a Fugitive Rights-Bearer
Despite the implementation of a national family plan in Brazil, women still seek tubal ligations as a means to control their fertility. Globally, there is an emphasis on Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCS) as a means by which women can control their fertility and exercise their reproductive rights. In this paper I’m interested in what is produced by this emphasis on the provision of LARCS over sterilization as the avenue for providing Black women their reproductive rights in Brazil. Particularly I focus on what is produced within the context of an underfunded public health care system with unequal distribution and inconsistent supply of contraceptives and within a society highly stratified by race, class, education level. I briefly discuss the production of hierarchical medicalization to lay the foundation for understanding how the discursive and medical insistence on LARCs over the provision of tubal ligations, produces women waiting for death, via excessive pregnancy, c-sections or clandestine abortions. In particular, I am pointing to the ways that the construction of LARCs as the unique means for women exercising their reproductive rights in contrast with sterilization as not quite clearly an exercise of reproductive rights, (re)produces the reproductive domain as a particular kind of death-world for Black and poor women in Brazil. The insistence on rights and the varied measures to ensure that women have and exercise those rights, vis-a-vis LARCs, can be more productive of a proximity to death than life, depending on the population and social conditions, in this case. I refer to this availability and seeming accessibility to rights and the exercise of rights, simultaneous to the impossibility of the recognizability of said rights or one’s exercise, as the fugitive rights-bearer.
Individual paper. Pharmaceutically, digitally, and medically mediated queer bodies
In this paper, I will examine the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis by focusing on key events that paved the way for radical activism to turn into complicity with conservative politics and outdated public health technologies and practices. The core logics of HIV prevention, management, and counseling remain shockingly unchanged since the late 1980s. Regular serological testing for people considered to be at “high” or “increased” risk of seroconversion coupled with an ideology that “drugs into bodies” is both desirable and necessary remain the paramount approaches. This paper, then, considers “updated” modes of medical surveillance, such as home HIV tests and efforts to incentivize people to undergo such tests; for instance, through geosocial dating apps like Grindr or Scruff, specifically targeting, gay and bisexual men and trans women. In making this critique, my aim is to be critical of the infrastructure that has been carefully cultivated to make such efforts seem logical and necessary before suggesting alternatives to personal responsibility that might actually improve—as Dean Spade notes in Normal Life—“life chances” for vulnerable populations. Put another way, I am interested in exploring the ways that community and interdependence might be privileged as central organizing principles, rather than highly mediated—pharmaceutically and digitally—individual solutions that offer a false sense of objectivity and certainty. In a time when “the truth is not the truth” and “alternative facts” are given the same currency as reality, I argue that there might be lessons to be learned by exploring the radical possibilities of the past to consider the future—a la José Esteban Muñoz in Cruising Utopia—as well as how technology might be considered differently.
Individual paper. A post-classical narratological approach to hashtag feminism: The Shared Stories of #Metoo in Sweden
Feminist research on hashtag feminism, for example #YesAllWomen, #WhyIStayed, #aufschrei, has shown how women’s shared stories and experiences of rape culture collected under one hashtags can create community, solidarty, support, public debate and protest.( Barker-Plummer & Barker-Blummer, 2017; Clark, 2015; Drücke & Zolb, 2016). My ongoing PhD research wants to contribute to existing feminist, as well as narratological scholarship on hashtag feminism and the formation of counter narratives on social media. This means developing contemporary narratologcial theories and methodologies, as explanatory models for individual and collective storytelling on social media as forms of social and political protest. This presentation will focus on two crucial points of this project. First, situating #Metoo in the in the context in question: Sweden. Secondly, theorizing #Metoo within the theoretical frame of post-classical narratology and mediated narrative analysis for Twitter. In Sweden the impact of the #Metoo narrative (s) and protest needs to be understood within the rather unique social, cultural, political and discursive context in relation to feminism, gender equality and rape culture. Sweden has been domestically and internationally branded as progressive and gender equal (Jezirska & Town, 2018). In Sweden normative constructions of gender equality has developed into national and cultural characteristics (Martinsson et al, 2016), the right-wing parties have a “gender equality” agenda (Mulinari, 2016) and the abolition of ‘men´s violence against women’ is one of the primary goals of gender equality policy. (Skr2016/17:10). Hence, the extent and depth of men’s violence against women, becomes a complex problem for the Swedish (ness) national and cultural identity, as women should be safe in the most “gender equal country in the world” (Wendt, 2012). #MeToo can be fruitfully understood as a Shared Story (Page 2018). A type of story disseminated on social media with distinct linguistic characteristics: that emphasizes the interaction between multiple tellers, high levels of intertextuality, open-endedness, temporal and narrative fragmentation, and that promotes shared attitudes and values between its tellers. To capture the multifaceted linguistic and bonding uses of hashtags on Twitter, the concepts of Ambient affiliation (Zappavigna, 2012) is also applied within this framework.
Co-authored paper. Ray Kurzweil narrating the path to transcendence: (Re)Constructing masculinity in Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever In Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever
See J Meninger.
Individual paper. #botALLY: Chatbots as a vanguard of resistance
The chatbot is a maligned character of contemporary digital politics, a purveyor of misinformation and political propaganda, a sower of discord and social divisions, a vehicle for thoughtless consumerism and corporate surveillance. The chatbot figures as a cumbersome interface for automated customer support and a grim reminder of the rapid pace of technological automation at the expense of human connection. Chatbots replace human labor that is not low-skill but low-status and often explicitly gendered female, reinforcing misogynist patriarchal conceptions of work. Thus, chatbots have come to serve as a locus of social contempt and distrust, symbolizing critical failures of capitalism and the surveillance state. The ethical discourse around chatbots has centered around disclosure and transparency, with recommendations aimed at disengagement, unplugging, and turning off. This paper seeks to recover the chatbot as a locus of resistance and political intervention, and borrowing from Haraway, looks for ways to “make kin” with our artificial language-using companions. We are inspired by the #botALLY community on Twitter comprised of hobbyist chatbot developers interested in training their bots through engagement with the dynamic communities on that network. This community rallied support behind the #botALLY hashtag in response to initial actions taken by Twitter to control the bots on their network. The community argued in defense of the use and development of pro-social chatbots, eventually bringing Twitter to change their policies on bots, establishing guidelines for acceptable automation practices. We see the #botALLY community and services like DoNotPayBot as models for developing cultures of resistance and creating spaces where artificial systems can contribute productively to our collective well-being. We draw lessons on digital solidarity from these examples, developing some guidelines for building trustworthy bots that can promote the integrity, strength, and sense of purpose within activist communities. Finally, we reflect about on the near and far future of power relations involving humans and machines.
Individual paper. Technologies of Flirting: Violence, Control and Struggle
The present project seeks to examine the control that discourse on, around and about flirting exerts on practices of it. For its purpose, popular culture texts—namely films, TV shows and Netflix productions—are considered particularly representative of such discourse and its practical effects. Such texts not only exemplify its real-life, bodily applications, but they also work to promote the very discourse they showcase. It is important to keep in mind that pop culture visual texts have long been proven to be instrumental mechanisms that reproduce controlling, as well as limiting, structures and systems of oppression. My discussion seeks to go beyond an analysis of negative role models in visual texts and use pop culture artifacts to interrogate the different ways in which they transcribe oppressive flirting practices. I argue that such practices further contribute to marginalization of sensitive populations, advance objectification of bodies, reproduce implicit violence and overall are in service of sex-negative control systems. These systems, embedded within other systems of oppression and normativity, fail to take into consideration bodies and experiences of struggle—i.e. those that do not fit the norm. Bodies and experiences of struggle are therefore marginalized, silenced and made invisible. This project sheds light on the implicit violence contemporary discourse associated with flirting carries and reproduces, in addition to examining this phenomenon as being the by-product of extensive structures of oppression. This is still a work in progress, as its purpose is rather wide: I wish to situate it as an interdisciplinary work that spans across social sciences and rhetoric and uses discourse, textual, visual, and rhetorical analysis to expose and dismantle systems of control and oppression that specifically affect bodies and experiences of struggle. As such, the segment presented to this year’s GBT conference will exemplify part of the original analysis, discuss my findings to date and deliberate on the arguments promoted. This will be done with an acute understanding of my project’s limitations and of the possibility that upon completion, the results may suggest new arguments and need for further exploration.
Individual paper. Connected Isolation: The “Circle of 6” Mobile Application and Intimate Partner Violence
Mobile applications aimed towards helping victims of intimate partner violence are on the rise. “Connected Isolation: The “Circle of 6” Mobile Application and Intimate Partner Violence” situates itself within scholarly discourse regarding intimate partner violence, gender, and communication networks. It is also focused on engaging the concepts of hybrid space (de Souza e Silva, 2006), and safe space (Fox & Ore, 2010). “Connected Isolation” speaks towards a recent shift in using digital technology as a resource for victims to report and exit abusive relationships. This piece provides a critical analysis of the “Circle of 6” mobile application and its functions, focusing exclusively on its relevance to intimate partner violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) claims that intimate partner violence can affect anyone, however it is most often perpetrated by men against women, which makes IPV a gendered issue. According to Sharma (2017) women’s agency in entering and exiting space is historically disenfranchised. This becomes even more problematic when considering the inherent power imbalance that characterizes intimate partner violence. The “Circle of 6” mobile application relies extensively on the pre-existing social networks of victims and access to mobile technology in order to facilitate networked support through reporting and intervention, which could ultimately allow for the victim to exit the abusive relationship. However, previous research regarding intimate partner violence and communication networks suggest a variety of difficulties victims face when trying to establish and maintain such networks. Additionally, resources and network-making power can be sabotaged by abusers, leaving victims unable to generate or summon a network of support. The “Circle of 6” mobile application attempts to provide victims with a sense of protection regarding abuse and assault. However, it ultimately overlooks the historical and contextual forces within abusive relationships. Abusive relationships are often marked by control over women’s bodies, social networks, and mobility. While the “Circle of 6” application is framed as a resource for victims of intimate partner violence, further analysis complicates whether it is capable of serving as a weapon of resistance, ultimately empowering victims access to exit.
Multi-authored workshop. Playing with Our Selves: Examining Life Through Virtual Media, Parts I and II.
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Twitter as Digital Counterstory-Telling
Counter-storytelling is a methodology used by Critical Race Theory scholars to disrupt dominant racial narratives reproduced through the organization of society. Richard Delgado (1989) describes counterstories as “a kind of counter-reality” developed by marginalized “outgroups,” which are juxtaposed against the “stock stories,” or dominant narratives developed by the power majority. While stock stories serve to maintain existing hierarchies of oppression, through representing the world as organized by the power majority, counterstories actively combat these hierarchies through representing the experience of marginalized bodies. While CRT has often focused on the written narrative as the ground of counterstories, specifically in the mode of oral narrative, literature, and, more recently, graphic narratives, this essay argues that twitter phenomena like #MeToo and #WhyIdidntreport also serve in the mode of counterstorytelling. While a similar function can be achieved through other online media, like blogs or web-magazines, this paper will argue that Twitter’s microblogging format and hashtag functionality allow for the interconnection of the three genres of counterstory, personal stories, other people’s stories, and composite stories, to form a larger overarching narrative that challenges “stock stories.” Unlike “traditional” counterstories, twitter-as-counterstory’s unique format and open access allows for the hijacking of counterstories through the appropriation of the hashtag and the affective resonance of the hashtag with the experience that it serves to represent. In this light, this essay will engage with the problematics of twitter-as-counterstory through indicating how the affective connection of the hashtag, as part of twitter-as-counterstory’s format, can be appropriated by the power majority and used to serve the ends of oppression. To conclude, this essay will suggest some ways of using twitter-as-counterstory through modification of Critical Race Theory’s counterstory-telling thesis to advance social justice in the world.
Individual paper. Exploring Politics Embedded in Hardware and Workshops: Lessons from the Hands-on and Embodied Pedagogies of Feminist Hactivist Groups
This paper presentation examines the work of feminist tech groups that have a political and activist intention behind their development and appropriation of technologies as well as pedagogies for sharing knowledge about them. Based on participant observations of meet-ups, self-organized conferences, and workshops as well as interviews, I am particularly interested in how talking through the politics of physical objects, hardware, and the materiality of digital technologies opens space for dialogue and transformative actions about how the world could be otherwise. Thus, I seek to analyze the discourse and thinking around setting alternative frames for creating liberatory experiences of technology that aim to change and disrupt current systems of oppression in regards to gender, race, class, ableism, etc. I then work to further explicate how the tactics developed during such endeavors (specifically in relation to pedagogies, production of knowledge, and acknowledging different ways of knowing) might have further implications for movement building and seeding change within engineering education. Examples that will be opened up for exploration include setting up and developing feminist servers, attention to embodied knowledge in regard to hardware, and problematizing language within computing and hardware that reproduce binary understandings of gender and systems of oppression. This presentation will entail a more experimental format involving objects, imagery, and possible openings for dialogue.
Individual paper. Race and the Limits of Childhood Transgender Medicine
This paper explores how clinical constructions of childhood gender diversity are shaped by race. In particular, I show how whiteness is encoded in the implicit therapeutic logics of gender affirming care in childhood. I draw on ethnographic research conducted with transgender and gender-nonconforming young people of different ages and their families, both receiving specialized gender affirming care and not engaged in care. I found that for many of my interlocutors, success is understood in terms of specific forms of social recognition, articulated in relation to schools and other public spaces, and experienced as a return to a normal trajectory of childhood. By examining how success in clinical discourses is reckoned in terms of normativity in different domains of child life, I show how the progressive impulse of expanding access to gender affirming care is linked to broader forms of privilege and power. In other words, I argue that the concepts of gender identity and medical gender affirmation, which have gained increasing visibility in public as well as clinical discourses, are themselves racialized technologies. By analyzing race- and class-based differences in how childhood gender affirmation is accessed and experienced, I will explore the limits of pediatric transgender medicine in practice and as it is imagined by its practitioners. Clinicians themselves contend with differences based in race and class in their work with trans youth in complex ways, and social justice and health inequality are at the forefront of many of my clinical interlocutors’ work. The social construction of these new technologies of childhood gender – considered here to include pharmaceutical and surgical interventions as well as the knowledge-making practices that support them – has important consequences, especially in understanding efforts to engage trans youth of color in health care. This paper will explore how an analysis focused on race can complicate universalizing conceptual frameworks of gender identity in childhood, in order to make room for more complex local and intersectional perspectives.
Individual paper. Queer Orientalisms in Digital Media along the Rim of the Indian Ocean
In the rise of the field of Digital Humanities, DH practitioners have often unwittingly privileged western spaces as those in which DH discourse takes root. This trend is moreover underpinned by heteronormative algorithms of gender and sexuality that a number of theorists, ranging from Amy Earhart (2012), Radhika Gajjala (2013), Roopika Risam (2015), and Safiya Umoja Noble (2018). My project reconfigures the original title of Terras’ landmark blog publication in two major ways. Firstly, I speak about peering “outside” rather than “inside” to emphasize that which DH excludes, namely the postcolonial nations of the Global South, in Big Tent Digital Humanities. Secondly, I view this tent as “pink” to identify the queer discourses that Big Tent Digital Humanities visibly marginalizes. Refusing to view these two points as mutually exclusive, I instead view them as intersectional and necessary in formulating a less Anglocentric and Eurocentric model of DH, one that instead promises a more democratic model of global digital humanities. This project surveys the ways in which digital culture and praxis is apart from yet connected throughout three postcolonial cities that were once jewels in the British Empire’s crown: Durban in South Africa, Chennai in southern India, and Perth in Western Australia. I track the Zulu, Tamil, Hindi, and English circuits of queer communities networked across the Indian Ocean rim. I explore how the digital milieu in this sector of the Global South (itself a problematic term) is shaped by its displacement from the male/ female binary, and instead enables a flexibility that reflects the acceptance of the third gender.
Co-authored performance. Feminist Apocalypse Solutions
With the constant bludgeoning of the media cycle, which promises one apocalypse after another, this performance intervention takes seriously present day issues of uneven power structures playing out in the political sphere. With the collapse of the Affordable Care Act, nuclear threats, militarization of borders and walls, the rise of nationalist movements world-wide, and the proliferation of outwardly racist and homophobic rhetoric and events, planning for the inevitable collapse of society seems like the only responsible thing to do. That’s where the Feminist Apocalypse Solutions team comes in. Lindsay Garcia and Helis Sikk will offer 20-minute appointments to develop individualized plans for your survival after the end of the world. Considering your unique identity pressure points, financial limitations, fears and phobias, medical and physical limitations, as well as geographic proximity to borders, each appointment will include: •Intake: Identifying client-specific challenges •Research: Employing collaborative methods that address desired client outcomes •Planning: Developing a plan for acquiring necessary medicines, reaching safer geopolitical borders, avoiding visibility and imprisonment, etc •Tool acquisition: Selecting one of three skills to learn and deploy as part of your individualized plan Clients will leave this session with a particularized printed plan, additional educational materials for how to build precarious structures, guidelines for how to food prep, and other necessary information, as well as a certificate marking the completion of the Feminist Apocalypse Solutions training.
Co-authored paper. Skill Requirements, Returns to Skills, and Gender Wage Gap
This paper investigates how gender differences in skills beyond education and experience can account for the observed gender wage gap and its changes between 1980 and 2015 by using data from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Besides math and motor skills, we emphasize the differences between two types of inter-personal skills: directness skills and caring skills. Directness skills are related to decision-making, persuasion and negotiation, whereas caring skills are more about cooperation and coordination. The main empirical finding is that female workers possess much higher level of caring skills than male workers, and the returns to caring skills are significantly negative but have increased over time, accounting for a major part of the persistent gender wage gap and the narrowing gender wage gap from 1980 to 2015. Another significant portion of the narrowed gender wage gap can be attributed to the faster growth in female workers’ average directness skills relative to those of male workers and the fact that the returns to directness skills are significantly positive and stable over time.
Individual paper. Rock that Body: Economies of Risk in Rock Climbing
This paper will work to extend the discussion of risk and barriers to participation in outdoor recreation communities from race and gender, to include old age as a unique position with a complex relationship to risk by looking specifically at rock climbing. By extending a discussion of aging through engaging with disability theory and critical gerontology, I seek to interrogate how risk constitutes bodies differently based on their social locations. Based on these constitutions, I also investigate how different groups constitute risk differently based on group values and the political economies they are invested in. Literature from the outdoor recreation and leisure studies field discusses risk in multiple ways in terms of race and gender. People of color are constituted as experiencing risk as a barrier to participating in outdoor recreation activities as a result of the history of racial violence in rural and wilderness spaces. As well, people of color are often constituted as “at risk,” which many in the outdoor industry seek to address through specific therapeutic recreation activities. Women are also constituted as at risk for being vulnerable in wilderness spaces, particularly if they are alone. Risk becomes more complex in its constitution of women in that, in many activities (such as rock climbing), calculated risk-taking is integral to the sport. As it is argued that women are more risk averse, they also become constituted as having to overcome their feminine embodiment in order to be seen as legitimate participants. Thus, their avoidance of risk becomes a barrier. As recreation activities are becoming increasingly popular as retirement activities, the ways in which risk constitutes and is constituted by old age is a unique relationship that intersects with race, class, and gender in terms of the ongoing discussion of barriers to participation. As well, risk may be constituted in such a way that has material implications for the economics of outdoor recreation in terms of risk management, liability, and land access, which moves the constitution of risk into a group level concern and construction. As such, this paper seeks to interrogate how rock climbers constitute risk for old climbers (or embody risk as old climbers) and how they might work to mitigate risk through the use of backcountry technologies or other tools that work to manage risk.
Co-authored paper. Centering reproductive justice praxis in the University classroom through the feminist science shop
See M Cruz.
Individual paper. Representing Gender in Cyber Civics Curricula
In this paper, I analyze three examples of curricula aimed at cultivating good cyber behavior and countering online harassment. These curricula are branded as addressing civic needs, cultivating civic duty, and developing skills to help students understand and react to online threats. This paper offers a critiques of these, and other similar, cyber safe curricula: that current cyber safe curricula do not adequately address the ways that identity—particularly gender and sexuality—shape one’s experience of online spaces and exposure to online threats. Gender is one of the pre-eminent factors in one’s experience of online harassment. For this reason, cyber safe curricula should do more to discuss the ways that gender and gender identity play a role in one’s experience of threat and harm in online spaces. Women are significantly more likely than men to experience ‘severe’ forms of online harassment (35% v. 16%). Furthermore, other research has shown that men’s experiences of online harassment are largely attributable to non-heteronormative gender identity. A recent, 2018, study shows that women are much more likely to experience cyber-sexual harassment than men (41% v. 22%). Women’s and girls’ feelings about experiences of online harassment must also be considered in light of the ways that threats that are made in cyberspace have connections to real life experience. As Soraya Chomaly argues: “In theory, these things can happen to anyone—but they don’t. They happen overwhelming to women and the abusers are overwhelmingly men.” When curricula, aimed at educating students about the threats that exist online, fail to mark the ways that gender and sexuality shape one’s experience and exposure to threats, those curricula are complicit in the normalization of male hetero-normative experiences. If cyber-safe curricula are to adequately prepare students to become ‘tech savvy’ and ‘cyber citizens’ it is vital that they grapple with the ways that gender and sexuality shape who is threatened, how they respond to that threat, and what might be done about it.
Co-authored paper. A Textual Analysis of Missing Gendered Emojis
While Unicode has been a nearly-ubiquitous part of digital text since its implementation, the rise of emojis as a part of the Unicode Standard has brought added attention to how the process of assigning characters to the Standard takes place, as people speculate about why some characters are included and others are not (Farokhmanesh 2017). Existing as images yet charged with linguistic meaning, emojis play a distinct role in digital communication today (Berard 2018). As of Unicode 11.0, there are 2530 different emoji characters (Unicode Consortium 2018d), each of which can be treated as a textual character, no different from “a” or “#”. However, because emojis are visual objects, and do not have direct relationship to spoken speech acts, their meanings can be socially generated. They therefore perpetuate the norms and ideals of the culture – or subset of the culture – that produces them (Noble 2016), a process that is “open to all”, and yet which results in the disproportionate reflection of a cis, straight, white male paradigm. This project seeks to make an intervention by drawing attention to the absences of specific gendered and sexualized objects in the emoji lexicon and discussing the societal implications of these absences. We focus here specifically on non-human emojis, as an exploration of the silent implication of a gendered body which remains in its absence. We seek to bring to light the gendered and sexualized assumptions present within the current lexicon of emojis (ie-- absence of tools for "women's work"). We identify missing objects, such as tampons, condoms, and sewing or cleaning implements, and examine how users manipulate the designated meanings of existing emojis to fulfill the rhetorical void left by these absences. Drawing on Rhodes and Alexander’s approach to rhetorical queer theory, we claim that users “queer” the meanings of common, often normative, emojis by reworking their signifying properties “to disrupt and reroute the flows of power, particularly discursive power” (2012). We conclude not by calling for the creation of more emojis, but instead by encouraging users to continue to queer the prescriptive definitions of emojis that are already available.
Co-authored paper. Women in STEM: The Role of Role Models
Gender disparities in STEM fields remain large and systematic. In this study, set in the context of a developing country, we use a randomized control trial to study the effects of role models on the decisions of high school students to choose STEM fields as their choice of major in college. Our treatment involves short talks provided by female students currently enrolled in STEM majors at some selected high schools, whereas other schools act as the control group. These talks will provide students information about engineering as a career, as well as discuss the experiences of women in STEM classrooms. We evaluate the effects of our intervention on the college major choices as well as academic performance of both boys and girls.
Multi-authored performance: Three Hysterical Women: Embodying Resistance Through Theatre
See N Dietze.
Hartfield Wilson, R
Individual Paper. Profane Vision: Facial Imaging Software, Visibility Politics, and Queer Identity
In February 2018, an article entitled “Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images” conducted by Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinski, researchers from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, was published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Media covering the study were quick to realize a number of the critical assumptions and implications of this study, including privacy and safety concerns for queer individuals as well as the implications pertaining to our understanding of the purposes, capabilities, and capacities of artificial intelligence. Situating this neural network technology in a history of technological, pseudo/scientific practices that seek to make visible traits like gender identity and sexual orientation—such as phrenology, physiognomy, autopsy, and, more recently, magnetic resonance imaging—this paper interrogates the relationship between a supposed (potential) perfect machinic vision and ideas of objectivity and scientific distance (both literal and metaphorical). The assumptions that such notions are predicated on and which the Wang and Kosinski study replicate—that 1) seeing is knowing, 2) the visual is measurable, 3) the inability to detect difference is due to the body’s limited visual capacity, and 4) machines have an unlimited potential visual capacity, to name a few—linger despite robust critiques leveraged against them from within and outside of the scientific community. I conclude with an examination of the impact these assumptions have had outside of scientific discourse—specifically with regard to queer concerns surrounding the politics of visibility and the closet—and evaluate what significance the turn from penetrating the depths the brain to mapping the surface of the face might have in the contemporary context.
Individual Paper. Refusal and the Future: Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a Foundational Black Feminist Science Studies Text
The figure of the sacrificial matriarch is prominent in institutional narratives about science’s relationship to the black female subject as its object of study par excellence. The trope is often deployed to encourage black participation in scientific studies and to counter community distrust. Several scholars have called for a politics of refusal to participate especially in top-down led research from institutions of privilege. Yet “good scientists” express alarm at what they perceive to be a rejection of “modern” medicine’s progressive health objectives and a seat at the decisionmakers’ table. Rather than focusing on foreclosure, this paper asks, “What sort of future is made possible through black feminist refusal?” To do so, it situates the call within a tradition of the neo-slave narrative and its treatment of medical experimentation. Focusing on Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the paper delineates the interconnectedness between the epistemological and ontological violence that scientific research produces in its obsession with the figure of the black woman. Notably, I argue that the impetus for Sethe’s escape from Sweet Home, the plantation where she was enslaved, was the revelation that Schoolteacher—the plantation’s administrator—was using her as an object of research. Sethe’s decision to runaway and ultimately to kill her daughter demands that the reader engage with the sort of refusal that black fugitivity offers, in particular one that subverts clear boundaries between life and death and the notion of futurity as progress rather than recursivity.
Individual paper. Beauvoir in the Boudoir: A Feminist Approach to the Risks of Bedding Sex Robots
Though sex dolls are certainly not a new concept in the realm of adult toys, there has been an addition to this product line and a budding new industry: artificial intelligence robotic sex dolls, also known as sex robots. Through the lens of Simone de Beauvoir’s seminal work, The Second Sex, this paper confronts the controversies surrounding sex robots. The author examines the ethics of AI for the purposes of sexual pleasure, and pulls from contemporary arguments both for and against sex robots. Using feminist theory, this paper also discusses the potential ramifications of this growing industry, as well as the gendered reasons why the market exists at all.
Multi-authored workshop. (Re)creating the posture portraits: Artistic and technological (re)productions of the gendered (re)presentations of bodies at institutions of higher education: Past, present and future.
See J Lee.
Multi-authored paper. Disability, Experience, and Technological Imagination: First Stage Findings from Narrative Research
See A Shew.
Individual paper. Hidden Curriculum in Medical Education on LGBTQ Health
Doctor-patient interactions can contribute to LGBTQ health care disparities with patients receiving inferior care. Incidentally, out of 150 medical schools, the median number of hours devoted to LGBTQ content was 5 hours (Obedin-Maliver et al 2011). Issues such as provider discrimination and uncertainty are integral to the doctor-patient interactions that can contribute to worse health outcomes for marginalized groups. Cultural competency training is meant to fill this gap in medical students’ lack of training to be able to address these disparities. This framework prioritizes attending to the cultural differences amongst minority groups and is opposed a monolithic view to health care (Brach and Fraserirector 2010). Even as medical institutions attempt to incorporate cultural competency training and overtly state to vow to end discrimination, sociologists of medical education theorize how a hidden curriculum exists that continues to recreate hierarchies that detract from that goal. This paper then analyzes a case study of educational materials used by medical professionals to inform medical students about LGBTQ populations and health to assess the quality of the information. Through an open coding content analysis of the messages embedded in the educational materials, this paper examines how the gender binary and stereotypes about LGBTQ can exist with diversity and inclusion efforts. The questions that guide this paper include, how does medical curriculum about LGBTQ+ people and health (re)produce understandings of sex/gender? What types of assumptions are made about sex/gender and bodies in these materials? In what ways might these understandings about sex/gender contribute to stereotypes about LGBTQ populations rather than alleviate them? This paper proposes that to examine the quality of medical education issues related to LGBTQ health, the understandings of sex/gender embedded in this curriculum must be interrogated.
Individual paper. Through the Looking Glass: The Pregnant Body Under the Microscope of Epigenetics
In the age of genomics and the focus on trans bodies and lives, pregnancy has been redefined as an uncertain space that lacks bodily definition. Insights from genomics and transgender studies have encouraged academics to critically consider how bodies are defined and the material ins and outs that aid in new descriptions of what it means to be “human.” Many scholars have conceptualized definitions of the pregnant body and have disagreed regarding the boundaries that foster definition. Pregnant bodies, as uniquely temporal spaces that blur boundaries, cause debates regarding if they are two independent bodies that share one space or one larger body with a smaller, dependent foreign entity. The former argument has often fueled fetal personhood debates and has supported increased surveillance on pregnancy that redefines maternal blame. Thus, scholars like myself have been focusing on the counter-argument which can consist of the deconstruction of epigenetic arguments to rebuild the pregnant body without re-inscribing maternal blame. This paper utilizes Donna Haraway’s conception of “natureculture” to queer current understandings of the pregnant body by viewing and constructing it from inside out. My goal is to reimagine a pregnant body without distinct boundaries using the insights of epigenetics to think about the material entities from within. Although epigenetic arguments are frequently used to police pregnant bodies from the moment of conception (especially regarding food intake and obesity), epigenetics can offer a novel lens that examines the pregnant body from a new angle. This viewpoint can enable me to think critically about the physical, temporal bonds between the soon-to-be human, human, and non-human environments and their effects on the pregnancy. In this manner, a queer cyborg figure comes into view that will allow me to begin to theorize a term that is inclusive of all bodies who gestate fetuses; eschews the raced, classed, and gendered notions surrounding pregnancy; and honors the capitalist investments that urge for a decoupling of pregnancy and parenthood. A closer examination of the medico-scientific practices of epigenetic scientists and researchers who put their theories into practice may enable a greater understanding of epigenetics’ larger implications on pregnant bodies.
Individual short performance. Resisting Normalcy and Rendering Monsters: a Multimodal Reflection on Anthropocene Expression After Death and Decency
For many who characterize our current age as the Anthropocene, a geological epoch determined by human effects and impacts on the natural environment, we find ourselves in a more-than-human dilemma and identity crisis. For example, In “Writing the Anthropocene: An Introduction,” Boes and Marshall explore the contradictory role of the Humanities in the Anthropocene age, where the human voice—the unified author at the center of traditional Humanistic inquiry and critique—ideally is displaced in favor of more-than-human discourse conventions, where the “world” is no longer narrated by and dependent upon human rendering to give it meaning. In her recent book Staying with the Trouble (2016), Donna Haraway also claims that now, in the Age of the Anthropocene, it is time to find our other connections to our more-than-human stories and our storytellers and to define these relata as our “oddkin,” our almost-relations. We shall not gather our traditional “godkin and genealogical and biogenetic families,” to speak (for) us, but rather our monsters, or our “Chthonic ones” (p. 2): Chthonic ones are monsters in the best sense; they demonstrate and perform the material meaningfulness of earth processes and critters. They also demonstrate and perform consequences. Chthonic ones are not safe; they have no truck with ideologues; they belong to no one; they writhe and luxuriate in manifold forms and manifold names in all the airs, waters, and places of earth. They make and unmake; they are made and unmade. They are who are. (p. 2) And in her recent work, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (2017), Stacy Alaimo also evokes the Anthropocene age as a time for troubled, twisted critique, not one for normalcy and sorting things out. She declares in the opening sentence of her book that this is no time for natural propriety: The Anthropocene is no time to set things straight. The recognition that human activity has altered the planet on the scale of a geological epoch muddles the commonsensical assumption that the world exists as a background for the human subject. (p. 1). But if we are to dethrone and to resist the human subject, the site from which writing and storytelling traditionally derives, to make way for the earth to express its own geological epoch in monstrous and un/natural terms, how shall we write and what voices will be mediated to express the Anthropocene resistance? Both to reveal this material struggle against convention, but also to performatively intervene and participate in this necessary disruption of authorship to gather our monsters, I offer a mixed media reflection, performed with live spoken word, original digital imagery (video, audio, still photos), and other re-purposed in/decent media gathered from the front lines of the resistance--that is from social media sites, where propriety, human sense, and manners are generally extinct—for good and ill.
Co-authored paper. Resisting normative metamorphosis: “living with” and “thinking with” human-microbial care relations
In this moment of feeling betwixt dystopic uncertainties and radical possibilities, microbes offer us Janus-like figures of resistance. Popular and scientific enthrallment with the multi-species microbial relations that constitute the microbiome illustrate a drive to rescale interpersonal, geopolitical, and ecological relations. Our microbial care relations link us to place, kin, and political economy, providing a link between macro and microbiopolitics of a gendered future. But these relations are not stable nor are their transformative potential a given. Although popular scientific hype of microbial relations encourages us to imagine the health of the future through cultivating ecologically balanced relations with microbial companion species. In these frameworks microbial relations are both material and metaphorical, constituting fertile terrain for imaging new technologics of gender and bodies illustrated by bioart, scientific speculation, and bodily care practices; they suggest that reordering microbiopolitical relations (potentially) reorders macrobiopolitical ones. Yet, even as microbial relations at first appear as figures ripe with transformative metamorphosis, in vivo they materially and metaphorically continue to reproduce (among other things) normative arrangements of gender and bodies. That is, they are resistant to easy enrollment as figures of a transformative future(s) and normative metamorphosis. In probing microbial meta-resistance we aim to consider both the drive to find new technologics for living with the unstable present and the use of kinship figures to scale microbial relations. We ground our consideration in an archive of scientific and popular research on gendered microbiomes—both bovine and human. In reading across the species line we examine how microbial relations are (re)ordered in the slippage between productive and reproductive relations and consider whether microbes may be better “to think with” than to “live with” as figures for resistant futures.
Individual paper. Remaking the Genealogy of In Vitro Meat: Searching for Gender, Race and Imperialism in ‘As-yet Undefined Ontological Object’
Neil Stephens defines in vitro meat as an ‘as-yet undefined ontological object’. (2010, 400) Stephens argues that this is because “shared narratives and political identities of this tissue have yet to emerge, and the forms these may take are both unknowable and contested”, there is no consensus on its ontological meaning. (2010, 400) This difficulty of confirming the ontological substance is common among emerging technologies, providing both opportunities and dangers for anticipatory governance, a term coined by David H. Guston. Yet current scholarship falls short of proposing methods to intervene before stabilization with the goal of optimizing artifacts’ social impacts while minimizing their built-in political prejudice. To tackle the problem directly, in this paper, I will use in vitro meat as an example to show how challenging and remaking the genealogy of emerging technologies can help us to obtain a better grasp of these tricky technological artifacts, a fundamental step for any wise decision making. The paper focuses on two controversies not yet included in in vitro meat debate literature: the troublesome HeLa cell line and the introduction of in vitro meat technology to China. Extending our attention to relevant debates in the development of tissue culture and to non-western societies with distinct culinary culture and semi-colonized trauma, I will elaborate on how to situate concerns about sexism, racism and imperialism in the innovation and dissemination of “life-changing” technologies in the era of globalization. It also addresses how these new modes of food production reinforces our one-dimensional control over nature, while further distancing urban residents from the rural in an anxious risk society. In a nutshell, joining scholarships like Sarah Franklin’s Dolly Mixtures, this essay aims to contribute to the ongoing negotiation of issues troubling cloning, stem cells and the new genetics.
Individual paper. #Survival: The HIV Story Project and Digital Queer Politics of Disclosing and Coping
This paper examines the political economies of racialization and abandonment that underlie and animate digital archives of HIV/AIDS survival. Founded in 1989, the National AIDS Memorial Grove (NAMG) in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park remains the only federal U.S. HIV/AIDS memorial. Since 2015, the NAMG has collaborated with the non-profit HIV Story Project in efforts to digitally regenerate public engagement with the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis. The Project’s multi-year oral history project—”Generations HIV: A Digital AIDS Quilt for the 21st Century”—captures video testimony by survivors of the “first generation,” prompted by questions of younger participants. All videos are archived on the project’s website and YouTube page, with questions and responses linked in a curatorial matrix of hashtags such as #survival, #coping, #generation or #disclosure. Thus, the Project is a unique digital space dedicated to intergenerational queer exchange about HIV/AIDS. However, as an archival successor to the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the HIV Story Project emerges at a time when racialized disparities in HIV treatment and #survival are starker than ever before. The politics of HIV disclosure are no mere matter of social stigma or personal conflict, but more and more ones of criminal prosecution, with dire carceral specters. Thus, being a #coping and #surviving voice presumes a transcendence of queer precarity, which Judith Butler has defined as a “politically induced condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks of support and become differentially exposed to injury, violence, and death.” What does it mean for certain bodies and voices to become digitally archived as AIDS survivors, particularly white long-term survivors, while others “off-screen” remain perpetually vulnerable? How can we work towards a digital ethics of intergenerational queer discourse about HIV/AIDS while resisting a facile narrative of progression? How can we envision digital spaces as agents of dissent and resistance to AIDS amnesia? And what does it mean for the HIV Story Project—and the NAMG—to be a “federal” memorial at a time when the current administration has all but dismantled the governmental HIV/AIDS apparatus?
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Leading a statewide movement using Social Media
This presentation will focus on how Positive Women's Network USA (PWN) utilizes social media, webinars and group meeting technologies to disseminate relevant information to women living with HIV and their allies. We are a nationwide community of women living with HIV. Our mission is to prepare and involve all women living with HIV, in all our diversity, including gender identity and sexual expression, in all levels of policy and decision-making. By making resources available online for advocates to access has proven to be successful at reaching hundreds of members and allies at low cost while also serving as effective tools for advocates to use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Resources focus on six key areas that are include: universal health care, economic justice, sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice, HIV criminalization eradication, trans rights, safety and justice, and lastly, ending violence against women living with HIV. Media toolkits, online trainings, reports and databases are readily available to assist advocates in education, awareness and prevention.
Individual paper. The Egg Freezing Revolution? Gender, Education, and Reproductive Waithood in America
In October 2012, an experimental form of female fertility preservation called “oocyte cryopreservation” (i.e., egg freezing) was approved for clinical use by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Since then, egg freezing has increasingly been used by highly educated American women as a means of preserving their fertility. Extensive media coverage suggests that educational and career ambitions are the main reasons why women are “waiting” to have children—thereby purposefully “postponing” their fertility and freezing their eggs as they “lean in” to their careers (Sandberg 2013). But is this true? Emerging research from a small number of Western countries suggests that the lack of a male partner is a more significant factor in women’s egg freezing decisions, rather than career plans per se. This ethnographic study, based on the experiences of more than 100 “first-generation” American women who froze their eggs, examines women’s life circumstances, decision making, and pathways into egg freezing. In this study, women were highly educated, more than 80% with graduate degrees. All of them were successful professionals, working mainly on the East and West coast corridors. Yet, despite their considerable academic and career achievements, more than 85 percent had reached their late 30s and early 40s without a committed male partner, a situation of “missing men” that they routinely lamented. This “man deficit” (Birger 2015) among highly educated American women is a reflection of growing, but little-discussed trends in American higher education, where women now outnumber men by a ratio of 4:3. Because of a dearth of equally educated men with whom to pursue childbearing, high-achieving American women are increasingly resorting to egg freezing as a way to preserve their remaining reproductive potential. Although egg freezing has been touted for its “revolutionary” potential—namely, as an empowering technology that creates new career options and family formations such as “single motherhood by choice”—egg freezing today is rarely experienced by women in these liberal feminist terms. Rather highly educated women today are using this technology to “buy time” (literally and figuratively, as egg freezing is costly), while experiencing “reproductive waithood” beyond their individual control.
Individual paper. Redefining What it Means to be #YourAverageMuslim Woman: Muslim Female Digital Activists on Social Media
This paper seeks to critically examine the complex relationship between visual media (art/film/social media) and Muslim women, first by exploring how visual media has typically used an orientalist lens to view Muslim women as oppressed, subjugated and silent. This paper then addresses how visual and social media has now been utilized by Muslim women as a form of digital activism that seeks to subvert the ideas of Muslim-woman-as-oppressed, and instead offer the public their own redefined version of ‘Muslim woman.’ Using an intersection of race, religion and culture, I find that the lens of orientalism has dominated the imaginaries that shape the representations of Muslim women, particularly in art and film. Such orientalist imaginaries also shape western representations of Islam, and the Muslim world as foreign and ‘Other’. Additionally, these imaginaries are also politically, symbolically, economically and culturally motivated; evidence of such ideological motivations is provided, demonstrating how western power structures are responsible for manifesting essentialized representations of Muslim women and the Muslim world. I demonstrate that female Muslim women are using blogging sites and digital platforms such as YouTube and Instagram to challenge orientalist tropes, and liberal feminist interpretations of their worlds. I locate at the center of this discussion YouTuber and social media influencer Dina Tokio’s 2017 documentary, titled “#YourAverageMuslim”, which tackles the west’s preconceived notions of Muslim women, by highlighting three Muslim women in the west who Tokio states are #YourAverageMuslimWoman. Additionally, I also highlight the works of other notable Muslim feminist digital activists, such as Amani Al-Khatatbeh, and Noor Al Tagouri, who, like Dina Tokio use social media platforms to demonstrate the diversity of Muslim women who exist, and speak up for Muslim women, instead of having their voices spoken for by others. By making themselves publically available to the world, these Muslim female digital activists are subverting ideas of the Muslim woman as hidden from view, and this action is an important step towards redefining what is understood as #YourAverageMuslim woman.
Multi-authored performance: Three Hysterical Women: Embodying Resistance Through Theatre
See Nicole Dietze.
Co-authored paper. Agriculture, Technology, Resources in Antiquity, and Modern Gender Inequality
While women are discriminated against in almost all countries of the world, the extent of discrimination varies widely across countries and even within societies in a country. Perhaps, the most important factor behind the observed differences in the discrimination against women across societies is cultural norms that define the appropriate roles, responsibilities, and rights of women. A strand of literature documents that historical factors, most of them related to agriculture and agricultural practices and technologies, played an important role in the formation of gender norms that we observe today. Scholars have argued that a transition to agriculture and the advent of the plough both places a premium on male brawn and gave rise to cultures of gender norm whereby women made their contributions from home and men worked in the fields. These norms were then passed on to future generations and exist till date. Besides being a strenuous activity that favors men, agriculture also allowed women to have more frequent pregnancies leading to the belief that omen’s place was at home. The use of the plough, on the other hand, requires more upper body strength and also alleviates the need for weeding, a task typically undertaken by women. Therefore, in societies that practiced employed the plough, women stayed home while men worked in the fields. This behavior eventually became entrenched in culture. As a result, the labor force participation and the share of women in parliament are less in countries that experienced Neolithic transition earlier and in societies whose ancestors traditionally practiced plough agriculture as opposed to hoe agriculture. Another important factor that played a role in the strengthening of gender norms inimical to women is the historical resource endowments. Studies have found that a greater historical resource scarcity is negatively associated with present-day gender inequality as measured by the gender inequality index, maternal mortality ratio, adolescent birth rates, and missing women. Further, the evidence also suggests that residents of the regions whose ancestors were endowed with a greater share of land that can be cultivated are less likely to hold negative opinions about the rights and capabilities of women.
Film. Empath Mourning the Colonial Loop
The Empath series is representative of a collaborative unfolding between artists TJ and RR. R, a dancer/choreographer, and J, a multiform visual artist, respond to the violently traumatic impact of eminent domain on rural communities in the path of an invasive, redundant natural gas pipeline. The time-based method and performative acts exist as both interpretative mourning gestures and a document of already scarred and jeopardized loci. In its full iteration, Empath Mourning the Colonial Loop is projection mapped onto or within architectural structures of community significance, sometimes entailing live dance interaction. The empath holds space within the frame for a communal narrative of purloined personal space, peace and safety in trade for corporate, environmental colonization and pleonectic impulses.
Individual paper. Reinventing the National ‘Savior’ and the Vintage ‘Whore’ through Cyber Space: Tale of Two Competing Political Bodies and the Security of Thai Nation-State
In the late afternoon of May 22, 2014, Thai public were perplexed by the image of two political figures uncharacteristically juxtaposed on the television screen: one was the ousted Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, the country’s first female Prime Minister, a demure beauty-queen-type of leader and the other was the Army Chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a highly muscular-Military man who led the country’s latest coup d’etat just hours earlier. This stark distinction between the two types of bodies creates the contrasting realms of ‘private’ bodies and ‘public’ national politics. Drawing on a broad range of on-line media sources, including political journals, e-news reports, political cartoons, and social commentaries, this study explores a vast array of cyber-based-social discourses in and through which Thailand’s key political figures are constituted, shaped, represented and deconstructed in time of a political crisis (2013-16). Through the perpetration of a national myth revolving around a physically strong, fighting athlete-warrior whose physical prowess helps protect and re-build a Thai nation-state, I theorize that the on-line social discourse propagated mostly by Bangkok-metropolitan elites has come to define the country’s political stability and security in terms of Thai hegemonic masculinity and the athletic body of the Army Chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha. A widespread display of the strong and athletic body image of the Army Chief, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, closely links to the physical features of Thai ‘manliness’ and the burgeoning ideal Thai masculinity. Through engaging in a ‘power’ sport, locally known as Muay Thai (a traditional Thai boxing), an epitome of Thailand’s hegemonic masculinity, the Army Chief, Prayuth Chan-Ocha now becomes a ‘rightful’ leader of the Thai nation-state responsible for purging any form of the evil ‘others’ depicting in a rhetorically ‘corrupted’ and metaphorically ‘weak’ female form of the ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her administration.
Individual paper. The Agency of the Dildo in an Anti-Gun Protest
The Texas state “Campus Carry” law (SB 11), which came into effect in August 2016, permits license holders to carry a concealed handgun in most places at public university campuses. The law spurred protests, including a student-led demonstration, which became known as “Cocks not Glocks,” organized at the University of Texas at Austin. The protest got more publicity than any other anti-gun rally in Texas. The space for the protest opened through a Facebook joke that went viral. The digital repertoire of contention aimed to draw attention to the absurdity of Texas laws, which now allowed handguns in classrooms but prohibited brandishing “obscene devices,” such as sex toys, in public. At the rally, by brandishing dildos in public, the activists seized the media’s attention. The organizers gave away thousands of dildos donated by a local sex shop in an effort to disrupt values and priorities. Dildos were also visibly mediated through T-shirts, banners and protest signs. Bringing dildos into public space was a disruptive gesture informed by an understanding of sex as a private act imbued with public meaning. The activists utilized the dildo as both an eye-catching, visual commodity object and a playful, phallic metaphor, deliberately associated with sexual pleasure and masculine gun culture through slogans. Based on the ethnographic fieldwork conducted for a research project on the ramifications of Texas Campus Carry on campus life, this paper discusses the promise and pitfalls of the dildo as a visual-material object, and sexualized symbol within a system of differences. The methodological approach emphasizes the contextualization of the protest in Texas. How did the dildo work in challenging gendered gun culture, public space, and relations of power? What kind of subversive potential did the dildo provide in this context? What kind of unexpected agency and unintended consequences did the dildo as visual-material object gain in the in the development of the protest? A nuanced analysis of how the dildo worked in the movement offers a view to the dynamics of contentious politics in current gun-control debates.
Individual paper. (Un)Making Generations: the Technologics of Gender in Gayl Jones’ Corregidora and the 1871 Free Womb Law
This paper considers the way Gayl Jones’ novel Corregidora (1975), a neo-slave narrative that partially takes place in Brazil, reveals and resists the afterlives of reproductive control under slavery across the Americas. More specifically, I analyze the novel in counterpoint to Brazil’s 1871 Free Womb Law, which abolished the matrilineal heritability of slave status prior to the abolition of slavery at large. My juxtapositional reading focuses on how discourses of motherhood recalibrate the nexus between commodification, production, and reproduction in both the legal and literary text. I argue that the law takes up gender as a technology or technologics of unmaking post-slavery subjects while drawing attention to Jones’ formal engagement with the blues as a means of rupturing the long durée of racialized reproductive control. To conclude, I comment on the necessity for situating biopolitical inquiry within global histories of racial slavery and what a juxtapositional reading practice--especially one that engages late 20th century Black feminist literature--might clarify about the afterlife of “reproductive slavery” in particular (Weinbaum 2013).
Film. “did you know”
"did you know?" is a six minute film/video that examines the hyena as a site of queerness and female sexuality and identity. The film provides factual information about the spotted hyena and draws connections to my own lived experience as a queer woman of color. In what ways do we revile the spotted hyena? In what ways is queerness received? What is maligned and why?
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Against Medical Lock-Down of the Post-colonial Japan’s Borders: Community-Based Health Disparity Studies as Zainichi Korean Decolonizing Methodology
Using the scholarship on carceral geographies, my book manuscript “Health Disparities and Immigration Politics in Cold War Era Japan” analyzes trans-incarceration of Zainichi Koreans, post-colonial subjects in Japan, who were made to be stateless at the collapse of Japan’s formal empire in the 1940s-50s. The entire Zainichi Korean community was symbolically and materially incarcerated through what I call medical lockdown of the borders. Japan’s post-WWII universal health care system, for example, cemented Japan’s post-colonial definition of citizenship, and systematically denied Zainichi community’s access to health care. Zainichi Koreans struggled against Japan’s necropolitics, while confined in immigration detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, leprosy sanatoria, facilities for disabled people and elderlies. In this paper, I analyze how Zainichi Korean health professionals and communities have used community-based health disparity studies as a decolonizing tool and documented reality of the medical lockdown from the ground. Zainichi health disparity studies originated in the Zainichi community’s appropriation of the genre “reality investigation (jittai chosa)” developed by Japanese social scientists during the colonial era. Through the 1950s, editors of Zainichi ethnic magazines and newspapers published “investigations” conducted by Zainichi Korean communities across Japan. In the 1960s and 70s, a new generation of Zainichi health professionals, who led the Zainichi ethnic hospital movement, applied the genre to highlighting health disparities. Although there is a vast literature on Zainichi Korean communities’ decolonial praxis against the post-WWII Japan’s racialized border politics between Japan and the Korean peninsula, little is written about the community’s health movement. According to Alondra Nelson (2013), in response to growing realization in the mid-1960s that civil rights by no means guaranteed social citizenship nor precludes economic oppression, the Black Panther Party developed a praxis of “social health,” in which “therapeutic matters were inextricably articulated to social justice ones.” Using oral history interviews and archival research, my paper highlights Zainichi Korean visions for social health in face of post WWII Japan’s medical coloniality.
Film. Instituent R.C. 2903.1
My practice encompasses the institutions of Art and HIV/AIDS Service Organizations. Art theorist, Gerald Raunig, defines “Instituent Practice” as a kind of transversal exchange of forms of critique amongst multiple institutions while critically establishing spaces of exercise and critique within, and outside of, any one institution. Raunig refers to “Instituent Practice” as an “active line of flight;” a way to productively antagonize the presuppositions and self-imposed boundaries of an institution. My artistic and academic interests in social practice incorporate multiple disciplines and institutions. Have HIV/AIDS Service Organization institutions (and other affiliated community organizations) failed in their critique to exact effective collaborative political reform in regard to HIV criminalization policy? Have Art institutions fallen short in terms of upholding the critical capacities of socially engaged art projects due to the neo-liberal capitalist framework structuring these institutions? Instituent R.C. 2903.1, a six-minute single channel video installation, takes up this critique by analyzing modes of HIV/AIDS art activism within the confines of the Art and Academic Institution. Instituent R.C. 2903.11 proposes a re-examination of the seemingly congruent yet deeply contrasting power structures of institutions occupying the trans-generational struggle for health and social equity for those living with HIV/AIDS. The video installation employs archival footage from the first decade of the AIDS epidemic to explore contemporary intersections of policy, education, capital and intimacy. Instituent R.C. 2903.11 juxtaposes archival film content with footage of conversations with Chief Public Policy and Strategy Advisors of Equitas Health and Equality Ohio. The project preserves the documentation, demonstrations, and direct actions, of early AIDS activists through a re-contextualization of archival film footage. Footage of ACT UP protests and street performances are documentation of aesthetic gestures exercised to intensify and proliferate a radical political movement. Simultaneously, the video aims to propose new perspectives on current relationships and aesthetic gestures of grassroots campaigns, HIV/AIDS service organizations, and legislative institutions in the process to abolish HIV specific criminalization laws.
Installation and talk back. Busted Perceptions: A Visual and Verbal Dialogue about the Power Dynamics Behind the Identities We Embody
I would like to propose an art installation of three, possibly four, canvas paintings with accompanying poem/prose and supporting illustrations. I envision abstract-female portraits that resemble various social/political issues that pertain to the body, gender and identity. I hope to create a visual demonstration of these concerns in a visceral way that provokes mental dialogue and conversation. My four themes include America is Bigger than US, a Glimpse of the Chthulucene, Chronic embodiment of Pain, and Epistemic Authority of Capitalism. America is Bigger than "US": This exercise started as a series of short autobiographical essays during my time as an expat in Chile. I am imagining a spilt bust resembling one half Frida Khalo and the other a Mapuche woman. While living in Chile, I heard a consistent dialogue about the US self-descriptor “American” and the resentment this created amongst my friends and peoples of other Latin American countries. Instead, a person of the US is a estadounidense (unitedstatian). This is an important distinction, which resembles the exclusive and elite nature present in modern US history. In addition, I hope to present a profile about the Mapuche indigenous people of Chile and their resistance. And, the political nature of immigration through Mexico into the United States. Glimpse of the Chthulucene: For this portrait, I imagine a silhouette. A tree or another form of nature will embody the bust. Half of the bust will be green and lively while the other half is dead. I want to make several messages about the onslaught of climate change and the “man”-made nature we have created. Chronic embodiment of Pain: In this bust, I want to create a spilt portrait. One half resembles the body of western medicine, while the other resembles a body of yogic philosophy. I hope to talk about the visual of chronic illnesses in capital-based medicine of the West versus other medicinal practices like Ayurveda. I want to do a painting and poem that provokes conversation about living with chronic illness, our relationships with our own bodies, and the energy society projects on chronically ill people. Epistemic Authority of Capitalism: In this last piece, I have not chosen an exact portrait, but I hope to provoke a dialogue about the trust in expertise and authority related to the political climate we are living in.
Individual paper. Toward a Phenomenology of Pharmakotherapy
The pharmaceuticalization of women's sexuality is not inherently problematic. Rather, it is a biochemical attempt to change the relations among bodies, worlds, and desires. Admittedly, pharmaceutical approaches to women’s sexuality have typically been reductionist, but a feminist phenomenological deployment of pharmaceutical data need not proceed this way. In deploying the pharmacokinetic data of flibanserin and prasterone via the concept of the pharmakon, this paper lays the groundwork for a pharmakological phenomenology that recognizes the ambiguous biochemical changes induced by pharmaceuticals have as much import for our lived experiences as our external world.
Multi-authored workshop. (Re)creating the posture portraits: Artistic and technological (re)productions of the gendered (re)presentations of bodies at institutions of higher education: Past, present and future
These presentations are interdisciplinary, intersectional analyses which examine how the creation and reification of ideologies around health and discipline using a medicalized gaze, have led to the pathologizing and diagnosis of gendered, racialized people, and people with disabilities as Other. Historically, these bodies were seen as needing to be fixed or purged from both the public Sphere (in this case academia) and the body politic in order to continue the unimpeded continuity of the white, able bodied, thin male population and its virility. We show how these ideologies where tested and propagated using various technologies in the early 20th century. We also consider the weaponization of shame and how it operates within the culture of posture photography of this period as we apply, among others, Melissa Harris Perry’s intersectional analysis of the crooked room and misrecognition. Through computer science and dance we recreate this narrative of pathology and shame by using photography to refocus the gaze as well as to critique the academic discourse at the time that linked body types to personality, characteristics and ability. We show how transparency, agency and choice renders bodies not as shameful others but as interactive “performers” and how, by capturing deliberately posed movements, we can make art from data, from history, and from a process of de-literalizing and de-othering.
Individual paper. Atmospheric Thinking: The Political Technologies of Breath, Breathing, and Atmosphere
What would it mean to think about atmosphere as a political technology? Questions of atmosphere usually revolve around the moment when it disappears or when something is “wrong” with the air around us. This component of thinking atmospherically has manifested into a robust literature on environmental violence: be that environmental racism, pollution, the poisoning of vital elemental forces (air, water, etc), and class-based discrimination. However, I worry that this focus on environmental consequences on our bodies misses the core facet of atmosphere as a technology- its ability to mediate and describe the relations between people as well as between people and the environment. By thinking about atmosphere as a political technology in and of itself, as well as expanding the toolkit at our disposal to think atmospherically, I hope to better understand our relationship with air and with each other. After all, atmosphere is so vitally important to us as both a condition of our survival and a mediation of our movement that to limit ourselves to thinking about it environmentally would fail to read important connections between environmental justice and larger political struggles. First, I will begin this paper by examining some limitations of how atmospheric thinking has traditionally been deployed. Namely, I will be taking my cue from Eli Clare and others who point out how environmental justice often uses the specter of disability to motivate their moral claims. Next, I will spend the bulk of the paper exploring five considerations for improving our atmospheric thinking: mapping space, understanding boundaries, making affect material, existential considerations for air, and finally how breath operates as a kind of vital materialism. By using the tools provided by Sara Ahmed, Jasbir K. Puar, and other political theorists of space and affect, I hope to broaden our conceptions of atmosphere and reveal new ways in which air can be used as a political analytic. As I work through these sites, I also hope to show how politicizing atmosphere reveals what Michel Foucault calls technologies of governmentality or how neoliberal regimes of control are deployed at the site of breath, breathing, and atmosphere. I end by discussing the possibility for developing atmospheric sites of resistance using Simone de Beauvoir’s notion of intersubjectivity and Ashon Crawley’s black aesthetic work on communal breathing practices.
Individual paper. #transban and #WontBeErased: How Conservative Politicians Use Affect to Wield Transgender Rights as a Political Tool
This paper brings together affect theory, media studies and trans studies to show how the conservative right uses trans moral panic to distract liberal activists and mobilize voters for conservative causes. Through examining the #transban and #WontBeErased discourse, I will show how the potential of gender border crossing unsettles the idea of patriotism in the military and on legal documents. Additionally, I will show how responses to Trump’s July 27 trans military ban tweets and the leaked Severino memo harnesses and encourages transgender resilience. I bring together Foucault’s theorization of governmentality and Puar’s concept of homonationalism, to closely examine President Trump’s tweets and leaked memos. I show how these moments were not accidental, but intentional. Trump has not said outright that transgender people are ‘unnatural,’ but he has questioned their existence in the military by calling them a ‘burden’ and encouraged discrimination by encouraging his administration to revise title IX to ‘sex assigned at birth.’ This paper thinks through how these actions engage an assemblage of narratives of surveillance amongst people in the military and in public. In response, many cisgender and transgender people have spoken out about #transban and #WontBeErased to show the depth of support that transgender Americans have at this time. Also, several trans-supportive measures have appeared on ballots (#yeson3) and in the legislature (Anti-Trans Panic bill). Ultimately, I argue that the discourse around #transban and #WontbeErased effectively reasserts the gender binary and operates pedagogically: the good citizen is one that does not cross gender binary borders.
Individual paper. Rethinking the Uncanny Valley: Feelings of Eeriness, Diversity/Mutation, and Performativity
The uncanny valley is a famous hypothesis in robotics to explain people's feelings of eeriness when people see an object's resemblance to a human being. Many scholars have been offering explanations to this hypothesis, i.e. disease hypothesis, fear hypothesis, and so on. Meanwhile, many roboticists have been trying to build a humanoid robot which overcomes the Uncanny Valley. However, I would like to give another thought to rethink people's feelings of eeriness. I think the feelings of eeriness is from lack of diversity of humanoid body forms. If this society allows diverse forms of humanoid robots, the feelings of eeriness will be reduced, even disappeared.
I will take Judith Butler's performativity to explain that humanoid robot's body and actions perform the body norms which refer to normality and abnormality. Social norms regarding normality and abnormality of the bodies define body forms and their social meanings. By creating the diversity of body forms and performances, the bodies of the humanoid robots have the potential to penetrate the dualism of the body forms. This thought might co-respond to the diversity of gender relating performativity. Hence, I will make a connection between the uncanny valley and performativity to discuss diversity/mutation in gender, bodies, and social norms.
Co-authored paper (with ES Cutler). #metoo and Survivor Narratives: Interrogating Technologies of Power and Resistance
Situated at the intersection of technology and bodies, the #metoo movement has resulted in a proliferation of survivor narratives. While the #metoo movement has been the focus of both popular media and academic discourse centered around its ability to give voice to previously unspoken, or frequently elided, narratives of trauma, popular and academic work on the #metoo movement has focused little on the structuring of the discourse of #metoo itself. This presentation will turn an intersectional lens on the discourse of the #metoo movement, unpacking the ways in which the #metoo movement (particularly in its uptake within popular forms of social media post-2017) has fostered specific forms of survivor narratives and identity. In particular, it will situate itself at the interstices of this narrative and the disjunctions inherent to it: parsing the points of resistance within #metoo itself, whilst simultaneously raising questions about the body-minds of those who exist at the margins of, or are typically excluded from, uptake and representation of forms of survivor identity. This presentation will argue that the privileging of certain types of trauma narratives reifies ableist expectations of both “survivorship” and “recovery” and thus privileges a particular narrative of trauma, leading to the exclusion and elision of narratives that do not align with a carefully constructed identity of survivor. As such, it will focus on the body-minds of individuals who have generally been excluded from popular representation of #metoo narratives: neurodivergent individuals and/or those identified as mad, those in fat bodies, and gender non-binary survivors of sexual violence. What does #metoo mean for disabled body-minds? For those in fat bodies? How do narratives that do not map neatly to agreed frameworks of “survivor” and “recovery” (such as the assault of forced medical intervention enacted on disabled body-minds) fit within the framework of the #metoo movement? How do frameworks of survivor identity integrate neurodivergent perspectives and non-normative forms of “survivor” identity? This presentation will interrogate the ways in which technologies of power and resistance implicit within the #metoo movement can be engaged with by current classes of individuals who exist on the periphery, or exterior to, normative forms of survivor identity.
Individual paper. The Aesthetics/ Anesthetics of the Virtual Prison and the Making of Virtual Prisoners: A Poetic Engagement with a Virtual Reality Marketplace
This paper takes the Unity Asset Store, a virtual reality (VR) marketplace, as a site from which to explore the carceral imaginary through pre-made virtual correctional facilities (jails and prisons) and incarcerated people. It employs the poetic to explore carceral logics and the ways in which they conjure certain bodies and obscure facets of analog carceral experiences. A postphenomenological approach is used in conjunction with carceral geography to explore these spaces and bodies. The Unity Asset Store sells three-dimensional environments, objects, and “characters” for patrons designing VR games or experiences. The pre-made virtual spaces and bodies for purchase in this marketplace traffic in the dark anesthetics of Western carceral imaginaries and epistemologies. The bleak buildings have cage-like interiors that impute a “sub-human” status upon those who come to occupy them. Such spaces are generative of specific forms of cruelties that are reflected in this virtual architecture. VR is largely a gamified medium in which predictable narratives are played out (e.g. the prison break). These plots have politics that reinforce certain forms, knowledges, and structures. These virtual renderings of carcerality convey and reinforce images that stand in stark contrast to lived realities. This paper sets out to re-envision a carceral VR that occupies the stasis of waiting and the cruel sluggishness of time. This marks the conceptual groundwork from which future critical virtual experiences of the carceral can emerge.
Individual paper. Precarious Citizenship: Kendrick Lamar and the Instability of Black Male Belonging
In my work on Kendrick Lamar’s album good kid, m.A.A.d city, I introduce the concept of precarious citizenship to describe populations at risk in marginalized communities in artistic resistance to their erasure. Precarious citizenship is an unstable political belonging to a group that is constantly under threat by a state’s institutions. Those who are a part of the community experiencing precarity have no access to normative citizenship because of how financial, legal, and political institutions limit their ability to claim their belonging to American society. A close analysis of Lamar’s debut album yields several major conclusions regarding the precarity of black male citizenship and identity in America and reiterates the importance of rap music as a conduit of sonic politics that can effectively disorient power structured around the precarity of black life. Analyzing the sonic politics of endemic art forms from communities of color can negate the notions of equal access to belonging and citizenship in America. In discussing Kendrick Lamar specifically, this paper is able to continue the study of organic intellectuals coming from the Compton lab as well as evaluate how commercial rap music brings Black Nationalist ideology to a mainstream audience through sonic practices.
Individual paper. Resistance is Futile: Female Mentorship in Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager premiered in 1995, featuring the first ever female Starfleet Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). Although it never rivaled The Next Generation in popularity, Voyager retains distinction for finally actualizing show creator Gene Roddenberry’s ideal for a female commanding officer, and for offering audience members a smart, capable, and assertive female role model. In season four, Voyager introduced another notable female character (smart, capable, and sexy) -- the recovered Borg drone Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), a once-human now-cyborg who helps Voyager on their long journey home. In this paper, I examine Janeway and Seven of Nine through the lens of Donna Haraway’s cyborg and postcolonial feminist critiques inspired by Audre Lorde and Chandra Mohanty to argue that, despite numerous opportunities to offer something new and innovative on the television screen, Janeway-as-Captain remains locked in masculine and Western binary frameworks and imperial modes of thinking, and forces these approaches on Seven of Nine through a long-term mentoring relationship. When removed from her role as Captain, however, Janeway shows moments of resistance to such restrictive thinking, making her an excellent case study to examine the evolving role of women on the small screen in the 1990s.
Individual visual presentation. “I'm transmasculine, why do I feel like a woman in disguise?”: A multimedia autoethnography on the role of trans identity in ethnographic field work
Shortly after starting hormone replacement therapy (i.e.: testosterone), I began a year-long ethnographic study of diverse, inclusive, liberatory maker spaces. Maker spaces are collaborative, community workshops where people gather to share knowledge, skills, and tools; the maker spaces I visited were selected for the study because they have explicitly created space for individuals who are traditionally excluded from engineering and making (e.g.: people of color, the LGBTQ community, poor people, disabled people, immigrants, etc.). During my first ethnographic site visit, I was read by others as a woman; yet, a year later, I was mistaken as a man by everyone I encountered on my last site visit. I am not a man or a woman; I am transmasculine and non-binary. I make sense of my experience using autoethnography, a method of “cultural analysis through personal narrative” (Boylorn & Orbe, 2013, p.17). Autoethnography combines aspects of “both ethnographic and autobiographic techniques—the fieldwork, storytelling devices, reflexivity, and memory—to create accessible, vivid, and vulnerable representations—'thick descriptions’—of the ways in which personal experience intersects and/or is informed by cultural norms, values, and practices” (Adams & Bolen, 2017, p.104). I employ autoethnography here because it “is predicated on the ability to invite [the audience] into the lived experience of a presumed ‘Other’ and to experience it viscerally” (Boylorn & Orbe, 2013, p.15). My autoethnography presentation will explore the question, “What does it mean for a non-binary person — and further a non-binary researcher — to enter technological spaces in a body that is gendered without consent?” I will pair my presentation with a visual montage of my personal gender transition and ethnographic field work. I will share my experience living in a progressively-more-masculine body while navigating gendered expectations in spaces ranging from a blacksmithing forge to a feminist hackerspace to a beginners’ welding class. My narrative, situated in larger culture, will contribute to discussions of transgender identity and disclosure; gender in STEM and making; the gendering of bodies; (cis)gender norms and expectations; dis/ability; and exclusion and belonging.
Individual paper. Embodiment in Fandom: Media Fan Art as Performative Critique of Eric Kripke’s Supernatural
Fan activity and fan cultural practice largely centers the value of embodiment and storytelling, as the body performs and operates as media for articulating and expressing affect. However, the forms of this expression are changing and recent work looks to these changes in fan cultural production. Amidst this scholarship, chief discourse still centers on how fans actively participate and respond to dominant media forms in meaningful and performative ways, whether to express their fascination with media or to share their discontent. Fan art, the practice of illustrating character or depicting a scene inspired by original televisual content, remains a popular fan activity, and one that centers on expressions of desire and pleasure from rearranging original performances or depictions. Entering this discourse, my project hopes to address similar issues of representation in media by considering the ways in which fan communities challenge dominant gender and racial narratives, as well as normalized violence in dominant forms of media storytelling. To that extent, I would like to extend current research to consider how fan art, as performative criticism, speaks to issues of (mis)representation in narratives mediated by film and other televisual media. I argue that fan art articulates the value of the female body and critiques dominant, even dangerous, narratives found in popular culture and media. Centering fan art in this way addresses how fan communities engage in performativity as a means of illustrating their own stories, even critiquing those that (mis)represent women, members of the LGBTQ community, and people of color. The case I examine includes the performative response of Supernatural fans, who engage with and respond to the treatment of female characters in the American television series Supernatural (2005 - ). I utilize fan art posts on Tumblr to examine how media fans articulate the use and value of bodies in fannish practice and call attention to the (mis)representation of female, queer and colored bodies. This project assumes that play is “doing” something as it not only expresses pleasure, but also articulates and gives shape to a serious problem in media.
Multi-authored workshop. (Re)creating the posture portraits: Artistic and technological (re)productions of the gendered (re)presentations of bodies at institutions of higher education: Past, present and future
See J Lee.
Co-authored paper. Ray Kurzweil narrating the path to transcendence: (Re)Constructing masculinity in Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever In Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever
Ray Kurzweil provides a path for overcoming normal restraints of humanity by predicting a future without physical limitations; where death is irrelevant. In narrating this path to transcendence, using himself as a living example, we argue that he (re)constructs neo-liberal, post-modernist, meritocratic, and elitist notions of masculinity often found in STEM-contexts. This contributes to his authoritative position as a narrator who can predict the future, described by Klein & Martínez (2009) as a particular case of factual narration as a communicative mode. He emphasizes a healthy lifestyle achieved through technology, optimization and meticulous control over nutrition, physical activity, brain capacity, and adjustment of hormone levels. We assert that the lifestyle he presents requires immense social, cultural, and economic capital, thus excluding actors who find themselves in less favorable societal positions of power from his technocentristic narrative of a linear and unbroken path to salvation and transcendence. We demonstrate this by contrasting Kurzweil’s narrative with post-humanist narratives in Donna Haraway´s The Camille Stories. She takes a narrator’s position as someone providing possibilities instead of predictions and frames that as a fictional narration, coining her stories as speculative fabulation (2016). We argue, her posthuman stories (Braidotti, 2013) articulate a more inclusive, cyclical, deconstructive, and queer understanding of human identity, development, and future: a narrative that is more accessible to people who would have difficulties identifying with Kurzweil’s techno-elitist and exclusionary one. Taking a theoretical and methodological point of departure from narratology, we investigate the narrative structure in Kurzweil’s and Haraway’s stories. While our focus lies on Kurzweil´s book, we mirror Haraway analytically to illustrate our arguments, and provide an alternative. We do that by analyzing aspects of emplotment (Ricœur, 1984) and the relation between histoire and discours including point of view and focus (Genette 1972; Todorov 1966). To show Kurzweil’s exclusionary way of writing we also question: who and what is included or excluded in his narrative and what does our analysis say about his intended audience?
Individual paper. Virtual Resistance: Issues of Representation in Contemporary VR
As virtual reality gains momentum, many have identified the medium’s relative youth as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for increased diversity and inclusivity both on screen and behind the headset. Often posed as a possible alternative to predominantly White and male-dominated tech industries, virtual reality is anticipated to amplify the voices of women, people of color, and queer creators and bolster their impact on immersive media and emerging technologies (Martin). Examining a range of independent VR projects, this talk explores the ways in which virtual reality tools have facilitated and encouraged the creation of feminist, queer, and racially just content. VR shorts such as Saschka Unseld’s Dear Angelica (2017) and Paisley Smith’s Homestay (2018), which explore personal loss and grief from the point of view of young women, hint at emerging media’s potential to promote female-driven storytelling. In the Hyphen-Labs collective’s cross-platform multimedia project NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism (2017), a futuristic Black hair salon becomes the site of pioneering brain research and neuromodulation. Designed as a response to the lack of multidimensional representations of black women in technology, this piece aims to promote empowerment through diversity in sci-fi imagery. Finally, multi-sensory VR experience Queerskins: A Love Story explores the relationship between a Catholic mother and Sebastian, the estranged son she lost to AIDS. Interacting with memorabilia from Sebastian’s life, users are encouraged to empathize with issues facing queer youth. But are such projects truly representative of a paradigm shift? VR producer and curator Catherine Allen asserts that, despite the “golden opportunity to make the VR space as inclusive and diverse as possible, […] right now it is so [White] male-dominated and the content reflects that” (Faramazi). Keeping this in perspective, my talk will consider the promise of VR tools against current industry practices in order to interrogate the notion that VR research and development can effectively resist systemic inequality.
Virtual worlds, augmented reality, digital gaming systems, and related environments offer numerous rich opportunities to explore the complex relationships among humans, as individuals and in groups, as mediated by the virtual environments through which they interact. Such research studies may span multiple countries and cultures, integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches, and attract investigators from numerous academic disciplines.This session links contributions from accomplished specialists in several different research domains. They will present and discuss recent findings and future activities, and explore approaches to integrating their work into a broader multi-disciplinary framework.
Individual paper. My Home is Not Your Home: Digital Community Building and Branding in Gender Segregated Higher Education
While women’s colleges in the United States have experienced a rapid decline in number, from a height of 240 in the 1960s to only 39 today, their historical legacy and traditions still play a significant role in shaping the landscape for educational opportunities for college women today. And yet, while many of these colleges are lauded for their feminist missions and diversity efforts—most recently observed through the adoption of transgender inclusive admissions policies—these colleges also struggle with issues of diversity and inclusion as it comes to intersectional student experiences. How can we talk about the move towards inclusion, diversity, and equality in conversation with what Acker calls ‘‘inequality regimes:’’ the ‘‘interrelated practices, processes, action and meanings that result in and maintain class, gender and race inequalities’’ (2006: 443)? As Ahmed (2012) suggests, to pose this question requires us to recognize that an equality regime can be an inequality regime given new form, maintaining what is supposedly being remedied. As such, inclusive women’s colleges may perpetuate ideals of a particular, exclusive womanhood limited only to those most advantaged by marking some bodies as “at home” and others as “strangers”. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the historical legacies of these colleges and how underrepresented students today continue to face barriers to full inclusion—and thus true “womanhood” and members of the community. Further, this paper examines how underrepresented students navigate community barriers and building in digital spaces as a refuge and alternative community space. Examining archival social media data on events of racism, classism, heterosexism and transphobia at two women’s colleges, as well as observations of student groups and over 50 interviews with students, alumni, and staff, I discuss the social construction of diversity, inclusion, and community as performatively bringing the institutional body—and thus “true womanhood”—into existence.
Individual paper. Regulated Bodies: the Rhetoric of Gender in the US Military
The institution of the U.S. military is one concerned with the regulation of nearly all aspects of the lives of the people that make up its body. In examining ways in which the military crafts and implements policy, we can see how the policies themselves can have profound impact on the ways in which we understand gender division. Regulatory normativity is violent in its approach to the body. This paper argues that policy creates and assumes gendered ways of being through material regulation imposed on human subjects. These regulations have material consequences; they also mediate how others see and understand the subjects that are being regulated through uniforms and grooming, regulations regarding physical fitness and readiness, and policies surrounding sexual assault and harassment. With the inclusion of women, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the growing negotiation and policy-based acceptance of transgender service members, regulation of appearance, physical standards, and definitions of assault are in flux as the military struggles to create a more open institution that still has its traditional levels of uniformity. By examining policies and the institutions that create them through a theory of rhetorical materiality, the far-reaching effects can be seen as a permeating environment which continually produces and reproduces ontologies of difference. Military identity is tied so tightly with rhetorics of cisgender masculinity and allowing women to take combat roles, or allowing physical and social transition in uniform, challenges that identity. The cyclical nature of the rhetoric at work in the institution of the military is constantly returning to the same arguments due to the limitations created by policy: as new challenges arise, new policies are implemented to implicitly or explicitly maintain a status quo. By acknowledging the rhetorical nature of policy creation and its material effects on bodies and ways of being, we may be able to more deeply address issues of bias that prevent a full integration of women and trans people into the military as equal colleagues.
Individual paper. Taking a New “New View”: The Role of Disability and Ability Studies in Future Critiques of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery
In 2016, the New View Campaign—an international community of scholars and activists working against the medicalization of sex—brought their campaign to a close with a capstone conference. Over the course of this sixteen-year campaign, New View scholars produced some of the most prominent feminist critiques of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery (FGCS). While many of these critiques posited the medicalization of sex as a main causative factor of these procedures, I call for a deeper analysis—one that demonstrates the pathologization of female bodies as the result of complex, varied historical practices and institutions. In this paper, I examine how utilizing the frameworks found in disability and ability studies can deepen feminist analyses of FGCS, asking: How might the work of disability theorists Lennard Davis and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson offer ways of negotiating FGCS without the disciplinary mechanisms of normativity that govern the beauty culture of which these surgeries are a part? What might future narratives of FGCS—or cosmetic surgery more generally—look like if we were to exchange “norms” for “ideals”? What sorts of interruptions might be facilitated through the adoption of such alternative frameworks for thinking about embodiment, and how might this shape future critiques of the industry? Moving forward, I also suggest that introducing Gregor Wolbring’s work in ability studies would allow future critiques to move away from the language of pathologization and toward a consideration of cosmetic surgery—and its attendant technologies—as enhancements, rather than medical treatments designed to address body parts deemed “pathological.” Such a move could, in turn, allow for more rigorous introspection regarding not only the role of neoliberalism in FGCS, but also those socioeconomic factors affecting the uneven access to other supposedly democratizing medical technologies marketed as ways to attain social mandates of appropriate embodiment. This paper will illustrate how such an analysis might open up new avenues of scholarship and activism that move beyond the limits of current frameworks and generate more expansive interactions with procedures designed to correct bodies deemed “pathological,” their consumers, and other involved stakeholders.
Co-authored paper. A Textual Analysis of Missing Gendered Emojis
See SE Hackney.
Individual paper. Power & Resistance: Testosterone, Gender & Athletes’ Bodies
Mokgadi Caster Semenya has defied the International Association of Athletes Federations (IAAF)’s binary “gender” regulations for the past several years. Recently, however, she has challenged the legality of the IAAF’s regulations on testosterone. In this paper, I will explore how researcher’s constructed the binary “gender” categories for the IAAF, the modes of resistance within these technological constructs, and Semenya’s active resistance to these constructs through her body and the CAS legal apparatus. Currently, the IAAF requires athletes with differences of sexual development to maintain a serum testosterone level below 5nmol/L for six months prior to and during competition in certain events. This requirement is meant to ensure fairness for athletes in the “female” category. However, the requirement, prevents many intersexed athletes and athletes with differences of sexual development from participating in sports without taking supplemental hormones to make these athletes’ testosterone serum levels appear more feminine. There is little scientific evidence to support this practice and the assumption that serum testosterone for these athletes provides an unfair advantage over other athletes in the same gender category. Yet, the IAAF and IOC still seek to enforce this regulation. Elsewhere, I have referred to this process as one of authenticating hormonal masculinity and femininity. This paper explores how athletes like Semenya resist and defy this authentication based on a myopic binary vision of bodies in sports. This paper uses a combination of Foucauldian approaches and Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Sex/Gender analysis to display the ways that sex and gender are constructed by researchers working with the IAAF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the ways that Caster Semenya subverts these constructions.
Individual paper. Factors in the Overprescription of Antidepressants in Women
Why do medical professionals prescribe more antidepressants to women than to men? I consider the impacts upon prescribers as a positive feedback loop involving advertising, off-label prescriptions of antidepressants, measurement choices and methodologies in population studies on antidepressant use, and gender differences in portrayal of depression or anxiety symptoms leading to prescription. Psychotropic drug advertising in both psychiatric journals and in public advertising display women expressing symptoms of depression or anxiety significantly more often than men. The facial expressions and postures displayed by the actors and the environment surrounding the actors in advertising also differ between men and women. Antidepressants are prescribed for both depression and anxiety, and are often prescribed for off-label diagnoses including incontinence and autism. Population studies on antidepressant use have different measurement standards, from antidepressant prescription alone to antidepressant with depression diagnosis to type of antidepressant prescribed. Changes in short-term and long-term antidepressant prescriptions are measured as additional prescriptions rather than adapting prescriptions. These studies may be compared to each other without taking the different implications of these standards into account. Women may be more likely to go to physicians for their symptoms, and there are likely differences in how women describe their symptoms to the prescribing doctor. The language used in explaining symptoms affects perceptions of severity and quality, which are factors in prescribing choices in medication versus therapy or in types of medication. General physicians and psychiatrists both prescribe antidepressants, but may have different standards for type of antidepressant or medication instead of or with therapy. Advertising and language affect current prescription rates and off-label usage, which are then incorporated into population studies, which then inform future prescription rates and perpetuate these differences without context. This creates a positive feedback loop with moving parts that may not be aware of each other and yet create momentum for the greater rates of antidepressant prescription in women.
Individual paper. Where’s the beef? Masculinity, gender and violence in food advertising
Does art reflect reality or does art construct reality? Cultivation theory argues that advertising is a form of education about the social world. While advertising may not directly influence audiences, viewers will learn about the social world and their environment through the messages offered in advertisements (Rubie-Davies, Lui, & Lee 2013). Food advertisements highlight behaviors that are deemed inappropriate or violent in society, but the continuous use of these themes explains how normalized violence against women is accepted in today’s culture. Patriarchy is engrained into society and prevalent themes within food advertising perpetuates a male dominated world. Methods Using feminist theory, radical feminist theory, and cultivation theory with the objectification of women this thesis identifies different forms of masculinity that are exploited throughout five categories of food advertising. The categories of advertisements include fast food, alcohol, snack food, meat, and diet food advertising. These categories were analyzed through culturally defined expectations of masculinity. These expectations include fragile masculinity, dominant masculinity, and violent masculinity. Thirty-five documents were collected and analyzed under this precedent. Nineteen of the documents collected were advertisements that used messages of fragile masculinity to sell products. Eleven of the documents collected were advertisements that used messages of dominant masculinity. Five of the documents collected were advertisements that used messages of violent masculinity. By marketing products through the exploitation of masculinity, food advertisements are habitually instilling cultural stereotypes of masculine behavior. These stereotypes of masculinity place women in positions of subordination. Three positions of women identified in food advertisements were The Tease, The Piece of Meat, and The Conquered (Gurrieri, Brace-Govan, & Cherrier 2016). Each of these positions are physical, but they also contribute to how women are viewed and the opinion of women’s places in society. Findings This research found that food advertisements are guilty of normalizing violence against women to promote and market products. This normalization is completed through the exploitation of masculine stereotypes that define men as violent, controlling predators. Food advertising does not directly influence viewers, but cultivates an idea of how women deserve to be objectified or treated in society.
Individual visual presentation. From Sonogram to Selfie: Image, Identity, and the Persistent Social Lens
This visual presentation explores the potential implications of sharing images of pregnant bodies, fetuses, and children via social networks, particularly where gendered identity development is concerned. I explore the effects of such sharing on identity formation from before birth by examining the use of sonogram images and videos, ‘bump’ and pregnancy photos, and the potential effects of a perpetual social gaze on one’s developing sense of self, particularly when that “one” is a girl. Since having a daughter and promptly introducing her to my Facebook family, they have watched her grow. She turned five this week and I have never been more aware of the impact of my sharing her so publicly, particularly after one of her videos went viral. Is my image-sharing affecting her sense of self? Am I violating her privacy before she even understands the concept? Using only personal images of my pregnancy, fetus, sonogram imagery, and more current photos and videos, I pair theoretical quotes and ideas with imagery to incite thought and challenge viewers who likely engage in similar public/social behaviors. Drawing from feminist, body, and visual theorists, such as Anne Balsamo, Ron Burnett, Nicholas Carr, Guy Debord, and Susan Sontag, I pose more questions than answers, inviting dialogue and input as part of a larger project. Some issues this project asks us to consider include: · The short and long-term effects of 'selfie' culture · The role of image-sharing on identity formation, such as developing identity through the camera lens, through social networks, and under a perpetual social gaze · Effects of the use of photo filters and the increasing ease of access on self-image of developing individuals · Issues of privacy and ethics, especially where young folks are concerned · The featuring and public scrutinizing of pregnant women’s bodies and implications (on pregnant women, on folks who cannot conceive, on non-binary bodies, on disabled bodies, etcetera)
Individual paper. The Trans/Alien Manifesto: Future Love(s), Sexual Technologies, and My Efforts to Re-Member Your Embrace
This is “TransFuturist Spiritual Non-Fiction": a radically vulnerable intervention to disrupt naturalized forms of publishable knowledge that centers the needs, fantasies, and longings of disabled queer/trans folks in practices of meaning-future making. This is an act of resistance against the logics of subjectivity, relationality, fulfillment, and temporality that permeate current/envisioned notions of love(s).This is an attempt to do a theoretical/performative experiment that aims to envision future notions of relationality while shifting the hyper-normative, and cis hetero-romantic logics behind contemporary understandings of what sex-robots should do and or be. This is a gesture of radical intimacy, an ofrenda a corazón abierto written in pain––what I thinkfeel transcends the limits of academic knowledge. This can be read as an exploration of the challenges and potentialities of relationships among/with/to/through human and non-human organic, virtual, and/or synthetic beings.
Individual paper. The Nexus of Public and Global Health - Use of Social Network Strategies in PrEP and HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care Outreach
In this presentation, participants will learn about the use of technologies such as the Social Network Strategy (SNS) that is utilized in both public and global health to provide outreach and engage clients in learning about HIV/AIDS for prevention, treatment, care, and PrEP/PEP. It will explore key examples in the public and global health sphere that has successfully utilized social networks, peer navigators, and outreach volunteers for client engagement, testing, treatment, and care. Research implications on the SNS model for PrEP and other HIV prevention and treatment methods has been vast, but recently research on the psychosocial analysis of young men who have sex with men of color has been conducted and findings will be provided as an example to showcase how SNS model for PrEP education, outreach, and utilization has worked in a case study model.
Individual paper. The Three Laws of Colonization: Robotic Bodies in Science Fiction
Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics pervade science fiction narratives that focus on robots, both of a virtual and artificially intelligent nature. These laws dictate the parameters of a robot’s behavior toward themselves and toward humans. Though these laws may not be explicitly mentioned in many narratives, their general effect can be seen in numerous science fiction stories in every form of media they appear. While these laws may at first glance appear humanitarian, they nonetheless have disturbing implications as to the autonomy of robots at the behest of their human purveyors. As such, software and hardware developed by human hands and minds that determine the role and use of robotic bodies suggests a level of colonization. This colonization can be manifested through coerced labor, bodily control, and behavioral control. But how exactly is this colonization portrayed? Are the artificially intelligent robots in these narratives aware of their colonization, and do they seek to resist these bonds? How is this representation gendered? These are but a few questions this paper seeks to answer. My exploration of this topic extends to include science fiction media from film, television, literature, and video games, and will focus on different aspects of each. For instance, robotic bodies are used as coerced labor in Blade Runner, with software designed to end their life after four years to prevent resistant behavior. Similarly, droids in Star Wars are programmed to serve human interests, with “restraining bolts” sometimes utilized to ensure compliance. It is the position of this paper that there is also a vastly different representation of colonized robotic bodies depending on if that robotic body is portrayed as female or male. The colonization of “female” robots tends to lean toward sexualization and/or care work while “male” robotic bodies are colonized for the purpose of physical labor and utility as workers. In these narratives, the robots do not have autonomy over their own bodies and software is designed to control them. This paper is geared toward exploring this phenomenon and how fictionalized laws determine the autonomy of robotic bodies.
Individual paper. Intimacy Through/With Technology: An Evaluation of Care for Despondency
My research examines the role of intimacy and technology as it pertains to providing necessary and sufficient care for the “despondent”: those who are/have been suicidal or who suffer from elevated forms of depression and/or existential anxiety. I incorporate the ethics and politics of care to determine some varying needs of both those who are despondent and those who care for them, examining the condition of “intimacy” both in terms of proximity and in terms of affection. I argue that intimacy is (1) a precarious condition influenced by our technological mediation with others, and (2) must be taken seriously as it fulfills a necessary and sometimes sufficient condition of appropriate care for both the despondent and those caring for them. My extended claims include the ideas that intimacy substantially reflects back onto the needs of caregivers thereby warranting further respect, and that our intimate relations with technology require us to reconceive standards of care in relation to those particular objects. A significant presumption of and theoretical contribution to this work is Eva Feder Kittay’s interconnected principles of care and doulia – which in turn emphasize the well-being of each individual in the caring relationship while appealing to larger systems of support. In regards to the cared-for, I analyze some different methods of treatment, engagement, and awareness as they are articulated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), arguing that we must strengthen our creative use of technology while also pointing to neglected non-technological methods that might be more effective for some. To the caregivers, I point to some strategic manipulations of intimacy and distance that may be required of caregivers and how these strategies along with their affiliated technologies influence the physical and mental conditions of these persons. I maintain that a sufficient model/method of care is dependent on understanding the role of intimacy in our connections with one another and with mediating objects/apparatuses.
Individual paper. Eugenics, Reproductive Justice, and the Contemporary Politics of U.S. Slavery
Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s 1994 text The Bell Curve defines a discourse of late twentieth century American eugenics that is resurfacing among present day alt-right white nationalists. Using the text’s eponymous image and the statistical algorithms generated from it by the founder of eugenics, Francis Galton, The Bell Curve establishes the figure of a normative White national subject and a host of White and non-White others whose pathological biologies and cultures make them more likely to behave in ways deemed socially problematic. Just a few months after the book’s release, Propositions 184 and 187, which, respectively, imposed mandatory sentences on people convicted multiple felonies and barred undocumented residents access to public services like education, prenatal care and other non-emergency healthcare, and welfare, were approved by an electorate whose longstanding anti-Latinx and anti-Black sentiment had been confirmed by the text. The same year the California legislature passed the Maximum Family Grant Rule, restricting pregnant people from receiving additional welfare benefits if they had additional children. This paper uses the theoretical framework of reproductive justice, developed by African American women and other women of color activists in 1994, to characterize the aforementioned electoral and legislative policies and the discourses used to justify them as eugenic for the ways that they enact an “exploitation of our bodies, sexuality, labor, and fertility in order to achieve social and economic control of our communities and in violation of our human rights” (Loretta Ross). Authorized by the government and voters, the state of California created a twin system of deprivation and criminalization whereby it invested in the construction and population of state prisons and divested in social services and created the conditions in which Black children in California could be shuttled into the school-to-prison pipeline. Using the work of Loretta Ross and other women of color activist-scholars, this paper argues that the reproductive coercions effected through these eugenic discourses and practices and the demands of contemporary alt-right white supremacists for a large-scale crackdown on “illegal immigration” and an end to birthright citizenship can be understood as re-enactments of the reproductive and security politics of American slavery.
Multi-authored paper. Disability, Experience, and Technological Imagination: First Stage Findings from Narrative Research
See A Shew.
Individual paper. Excessive Practices, Excessive Bodies: Teaching the Anus and Anal Pleasure in Sexuality Education
Research and practice that seek to intervene in the areas of sex, sexuality and sexual health will inevitably, if indirectly, comment on bodies. Yet specific attention to the social meanings of bodies and experiences of embodiment are often excluded from research and practice that promote sexual health and well-being. Sexuality education or, broadly, teaching and learning about sex and sexuality, is one such context where sexual health is promoted, yet bodies are ignored and sanitized. Further, both the anus as a body part and anal play/sex as a sexual practice are either ignored or deemed dangerous in sexuality education. In this conference paper, I reflect on my experiences as a sexuality educator and sex toy shop sales associate who teaches about anal anatomy and anal sex to youth and adults. I theorize the anus and anal pleasure as sources of dissent and necessary excess in pedagogical practice. I draw from Sara McClelland & Michelle Fine’s (2008) work on “rescuing sexual excess” to explore how engaging with the anus in sexuality education spaces might open up new possibilities for engaging with bodies and resist fixed, medicalized, heteronormative notions of stable, reproductive-oriented bodies and sexualities. Additionally, I engage the audience with content from my anal anatomy and anal sex workshops which connected anatomical structures to the technologies of anal sex toys to guide learning about anal pleasures. Specifically, I ask the audience to reflect and grapple with the affective contours of their embodied experiences as we learn about the anus and anal pleasures.
Individual paper. Devils’ Playthings: Gendered Containment, Control, and Home Console Play in a Technological Retail Space
Digital gameplay is often discussed as happening on the phone or in the home; however, video game consoles appear in a plethora of other places such as arcades, hospitals, and retail spaces. In these institutional places, play often operates as a means of social control. By combining Deleuzian approaches to game studies with the imperatives of mobilities scholarship, I investigate how video game demo areas in Best Buy facilitate the movement or containment of gendered bodies. Using a methodology inspired by Giddings’ (2009) microethology and Sheller and Urry’s (2006) emphasis on mobility, I argue that home consoles in these places (particularly the Nintendo Switch) moderate the movements of Best Buy’s customers and acts as a “form of biopolitical management” that allows for gendered exits and entrances throughout the store (Sharma, 2017). . First, I describe how home console gameplay alters the movement of gendered bodies through space. Then, I claim that Best Buy uses this re-territorialization of space to benefit the flow of capital by encouraging women and children to move less and men to move more. In Best Buy’s free demos, the Nintendo Switch itself does the work of chaperoning. By utilizing the device’s affective atmosphere (as one in which casual and typically female gamers can participate), the Nintendo Switch operates both 1) as a means to encourage non-play in possible (masculine) consumers and 2) as a practice of quarantine for possible loiterers to various flows. As a consequence of its position within a retail establishment, the magic circle of gameplay in Best Buy operates as a site of containment, control, and contestation that modulates the flow of capital and (un)desirable customers. In closing, I suggest that smaller scale examinations of movement (such as people moving through a Best Buy) allow mobilities scholars and game scholars alike to recognize new configurations of institutional power within a control society. The institution doesn’t disappear with the rise of computer networks, rather these institutions utilize disciplinary power through softer means—coercing others to move or stand still via the transmission of negative affect or the spatial distribution of gendered technologies and bodies.
See J Murray.
Individual paper. #Craftivism and the Potentials for Feminist Craft as Activism
While visual art forms like painting and photography have long been understood as possessing political potentials, 2016 saw a surge of women turn to more traditional crafts to express their frustration. In 2003, Betsy Greer coined the term craftivism to describe the combination of crafting and activism. Although craftivism has long existed, as seen in Chilean arpilleras and the AIDS quilt, the 2016 election mobilized crafting communities to become more politically active, best exemplified with the popular pussyhat. Craftivists have positioned their work as gentle activism, meant to be nonthreatening due to the feminine and maternal nature of crafting; but also participatory, accessible, and disruptive. Craftivism leans into gendered expectations of femininity, while also being subversive to systems of power. The juxtaposition of active political messages against the passive nature of feminine craft can be jarring but a gentle way to introduce individuals into political and activist conversations. This paper will examine the unique role that craftivist embroiders play, by combining the use of both imagery and text to illustrate feminist messages. Although craftivists do not have a singular focus, through their work they highlight a wide variety of movements like #BLM, the Women’s March, #SayHerName, #MeToo, and #MarchforOurLives. Through the use of social media platforms like Instagram, craftivist embroiders are able to display their work, use captions to raise awareness for social issues, direct followers to organizations, raise funds, and have conversations in the comments. This juxtaposes embroidery with digital technology, which allows for embroidery, a traditional feminine technology, to spread. For example, in 2017 an embroidery pattern by @badasscrossstitch that read, “Boys will be boys held accountable for their fucking actions” was widely spread across social media, with celebrities posting their own versions of the pattern. In the wake of the 2018 Brett Kavanaugh hearings, craftivist embroiders have made pieces in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and captioned posts with details about the case, information about local protests, and links to RAINN. Just as Jacqueline Adams (2000, 2002) found that arpilleras in Chile’s resistance to Pinochet had the ability to mobilize resources, arouse emotions, and spread information, craftivism may offer similar avenues for activism, especially when spread across social media platforms.
Performance. Diana, Hunter of Bus Drivers
2018 has been a remarkable year for a number of reasons, not least of which is the unprecedented wave of sexual abuse allegations towards men in positions of power in the United States. The #metoo movement has triggered a seismic cultural shift through which women’s voices are being truly heard and—for perhaps the first time in known history—believed. This change in attitudes towards the validity of women’s lived experiences is stark, and much overdue. However, recent pushback, exemplified by Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, has shown the ways in which men and women are held to wildly different standards regarding outward expression of anger. In response to the current cultural conversation on attitudes towards women’s rage, I am embarking on a new performance work inspired by a story of feminist vigilante justice in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Entitled Diana, Hunter of Bus Drivers, this work will draw on the scholarship of Joseph Campbell and the movement description system of Laban Movement Analysis to explore the archetype of the huntress goddess Diana. This archetypal imagery will be juxtaposed with historical and mythical stories of women exploding into violent action in order to address violated boundaries. The female kinetic impulse towards fury and rage is one that has consistently been subverted by swift punitive action from patriarchal forces; however, as Rebecca Traister notes, it is also a powerful tool for communication and social change. My creative research on this project asks the following questions: what happens to the fabric of a community when women’s subverted rage finally bubbles to the surface? How have women in different cultures throughout history found ways to speak truth to power, even from a place of systematic oppression? Where does rage live in the body, and how does it motivate an individual or group to physical action? What does the expression of righteous anger look like when expanded to a full-bodied movement context? My hope is that this work stirs audience members to consider their own lived experiences of systematically imposed power structures, and ultimately provokes continued conversation on the subject of female agency and bodily autonomy.
Individual paper. Reproductive TRANSactions for the Future: Performing normativity at the egg donor clinic
“Each of our egg donors has the wonderful experience of giving the gift of life, all while earning money for school, their family, or future goals.” The rhetoric surrounding egg donation is that donors are benevolently participating in a reproductive transaction to help complete families. Further, these narratives and screening processes work to select normative donors to help reproduce normative family units. I want to utilize my experiences as a queer, trans, disabled egg donor to question what it means to rethink the boundaries of my body after donation as a means to expand our conceptions of trans reproduction and trans futures. This article is not meant to provide another narrative of trans reproduction, but rather to explore the multiplicitous elsewhens and elsewheres of my bodymind after the extraction of my eggs, and later, my cancerous cervical cells. This is to question what it means to die, and live, and die again in trans-national timespace.
Individual paper. Anxieties about Race, Sexuality, and Motherhood in Serena Williams’ “SuperMomSuit”
This presentation examines the ways that tennis player Serena Williams subverts the normative, white, aesthetic ideal in order to construct a specifically black ethos. As a black woman in a predominantly white sport, Williams’ blackness means her behaviors and actions are always-already read as deviant, even when such behaviors do not differ from those of other (white) players. Using the recent critique of her 2018 French Open attire, in connection to other discourses about Williams’ body and apparel, I argue Williams is “marked” as atypical in several intersecting ways: her race, her age, her class, and now her status as a mother, disrupts our narratives about tennis as a “country club” sport and our discourses about the maternal body. The criticism Williams received over the compression-style garment worn in the 2018 French Open is troubling not only for the ways that it polices women’s bodies, but doubly so because of the fact that Williams wore it to alleviate her risk of blood clots, a known medical concern for her especially following a complicated pregnancy and post-partum recovery. I argue that responses to Williams from the tennis community are framed not only by the gendered and racialized narratives that have unfortunately affected her career, but also by the range of anxieties about the maternal female athlete. The pregnant and/or postpartum athlete is a troubling figure in sport because the maternal body is at odds with the traditionally male-driven apparatus of sport, and serves as an inescapable reminder of women’s differences from men, even as these female athletes—through their very participation in athletics—seek to assert their presence in a traditionally male-dominated sphere. However, I argue that Williams utilizes these gendered and racialized narratives for her own purposes, using them as a modality of action that allows her to build intimidation in the eyes of her opponents. In addition, her resistance to the social norms of tennis—seen in her unconventional tennis attire and her unorthodox behavior during matches—demonstrates the variety of ways in which women may develop agency.
Individual paper. Technoableism and Transmobility
I introduce the term technoableism to help describe current discussions about disability, technology, enhancement, and empowerment. Ableism is a bias against disabled people in favor of nondisabled people and nondisabled ways of being in the world. Under the guise of empowerment, many technologies for disability are cast as making up for a person’s disability – coinciding with ideas about overcoming and conquering one’s disability through technologies, or becoming more normal and publicly palatable. Design of technologies aimed at disabled people often becomes ableist through this vein. This paper unpacks the concept of technoableism - and how to defy it. This defiance is framed through Mallory Kay Nelson’s work on transmobility and Liz Jackson’s ideas about “the original lifehackers.”
Multi-authored paper. Disability, Experience, and Technological Imagination: First Stage Findings from Narrative Research
Our work centers on the narratives disabled people tell about technology. These narratives often differ widely from the dominant representations of technology-for-disability as told through media stories, PR about engineering projects, and design for good methodologies. In this presentation, we’ll provide some background about media portrayals and tropes about technologies for disability. Then, we turn to cases from our research on narratives that defy the typical frames represented in these media narratives. We draw from disability literature, poetry, memoir, and more. This is from an early phase of our research project on narrative representation of technology by the disability community, so we’ll discuss future directions and ideas about pedagogy centered on our approach.
Co-authored performance. Feminist Apocalypse Solutions
See L Garcia.
Individual paper. E-Democracy and Feminist Digital Activism in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe
In the last five of years, drastic changes in global politics, on the one hand, and transnational feminist activism, on the other, have completely altered the relationships between public space and discursive space. Nationalism and right-wing extremism have been on the rise both in the neoliberalist United States and in the idealized leftish welfare states of Sweden and Denmark. Yet, a new notion of publicness, sustained by the use of information technology and social media platforms, challenges the very idea of the hyper-guarded artificial nation-state borders. Resistance to nationalism can be found most strikingly in queer theory, feminist activism, art, online feminist groups, and in hashtags that create new notions of publicness. This paper speaks to the transnational scope of these developments with a focus on public feminisms and hashtag activism in post-socialist Eastern Europe. There have not been many hashtag social justice campaigns as transnational in their scope as the #MeToo movement. I will take a critical look at the campaign in Estonia and explore the role of online feminist communities in shaping democracy in post-socialist Eastern Europe in the light of the recent intensification of state sanctioned biopolitical discourses of female sexuality. Estonia is known for its investment in digital society since its re-independence in 1991 with the introduction of e-taxes, e-voting, e-healthcare, and e-residency. I argue that there are alternative effects to state sanctioned e-democracy that can be found in public feminist activist practices that utilize information technology and social media platforms. How are post-socialist feminists changing the notions of public space and discursive space through innovative uses and linkages between social media platforms, mainstream media outlets, and material culture? What can we learn from the digital activism of feminists located in this small country of just 1.3 million people?
Individual paper. Acid Feminism: Psychedelic Dimensions of Gender Performativity
What can psychedelic science bring to our understanding of gender? In this paper, I merge insights from the burgeoning field of psychedelic psychiatry with classic notions of aesthetic and gender performativity. My argument is that psychedelic psychiatry is well-positioned to affirm and extend the project of subverting gender normativity, although this will only be achieved through a self-reflexive approach to methodology. I begin by observing that clinical research on psychedelics indicates that the therapeutic efficacy of these drugs may relate to their capacity to destabilize concrete notions of self — including that of a static and “natural” gender identity. I invoke transdisciplinary writings on psychedelic science to remark on the tendency of psychedelics to “de-psychologize” and thus dissolve hardened subjectivities. Philosophers Byung Chul Han, Thomas Metzinger and Christopher Letheby have developed critiques of psychology for its tendency to reify and therefore constrain individual experiences of self. Letheby specifically connects this critique to emerging insights from psychedelic research. Meanwhile, medical anthropologist Nicolas Langlitz has demonstrated a connection between the phenomenologies of psychedelic therapy and theater performance, writing that the sense of unreality shared by the psychedelic and theatrical experience contains the potential to expand social and political imagination. I proceed to summarize and supplement the aforementioned thinkers as follows. Psychedelics, I state, unbind one’s self-concept from the overarching sense of inevitability that pervades mainstream psychology. They instead introduce the possibility that selfhood is ontologically mutable. Herein lies the potential of psychedelics to meaningfully reframe gender as a space of play and performance, I note, which is a significant departure from gender’s persistent image as natural law. I then emphasize that this possibility is contingent on the politics of psychedelic science in the future. If researchers and therapists do not adopt a self-reflexive approach to methodological conservatism and orthodoxy, this new science may fail to live up to its radical potential. I then draw from my research on the use of qualitative methods in psychedelic research to conclude with a few suggestions that may facilitate the feminist and queer potential of psychedelic science.
Individual paper. Domestic (artificial) intelligence: Female (dis)embodiment and the reproduction of gendered household labor
Let me set a scene: A woman kisses her baby’s head, stands up to give her husband, holding their child, a warm smile and comforting pat on the arm as she leaves the house. Moments later, the ubiquitous Alexa (complete with cheerfully neutral feminine voice) chimes in, “Here’s your reminder: Laura left a teething ring in the freezer.” Then, “Laura made a play date for three pm.” Then, “I’m reminding you: Laura loves you, and you’re doing a great job.” This commercial for Amazon’s home robot, alternately Echo/Alexa dependent upon your penchant for anthropomorphizing, displays the continued relationship between technology and gendered household labor by illustrating the embeddedness of female emotional labor involved in making life easier for others through the instrumentalization of technology broadly construed to make life easier for everyone. Despite the presentation of Alexa as an independent house helper, in the practice of this commercial she becomes a disembodied extension of the mother, infantilizing the father. Drawing on the work of Cowan and Wajcman, this paper begins by situating Alexa within the broader literature on the gendered technology of household labor. I build upon this in the body of the paper, using additional media examples, to explore the ways in which Alexa performs femininity and female labor in the home. How, I ask, is this performance an appropriated reproduction of (dis)embodied femininity, and who does this serve? What does it mean that this technology was deliberately assigned female, and that its origin is an explicitly masculine corporation. How might this dynamic render the capitalist agenda of the technology invisible, thus reproducing heteropatriarchal hierarchies of power in the home and in a broader social order? Lastly, how might we understand the evolution of the physical form of Alexa as embodiment and in relation to the gendered human body?
Individual paper. What is Old is New: Mobile Ovulation Tracking Apps and the “Pull Out Method”
The search for a superlative oral contraceptive began in the 1950s, but the birth control pill, as we know it did not become more widely accessible for young, unmarried women until well into the 1960s and 1970s. “The pill” quickly became normalized, although still heavily challenged, in the decades following its implementation into western society. Today, however, much to the chagrin of many feminist activists some millennial women are dropping hormonal birth control and looking to ovulation tracker apps coupled with the oldest form of birth control there is, “pulling out,” as a means to delay or forgo pregnancy (Friedman, 2013; Khazan, 2014). While the practice of “pulling out” (also known as Natural Family Planning) is historically grounded in religious beliefs, many women who are partaking in this move away from hormonal birth control aren’t doing it for this purpose. They are doing it because they find that hormonal birth control has caused problems with their physical and mental wellbeing (Grigg-Spall, 2013). The energized focus, body literacy, and ease of use that ovulation tracking apps like Eve by Glow encourages amongst users along with the pull out method makes this hybridized form of birth control an attractive alternative to the pill for many young women, but because so many aspects of women’s healthcare have been challenged by religious conservatives over the years many feminist activists view this movement away from the pill as detrimental to women’s health and reproductive freedom. In taking up Sarah Sharma’s idea of “sexit” (2017) I argue that self-tracking fertility and menstruation has long been a way for women to exit from (male) medical authority and the gendered entrapments involved with biopolitcs; however, while these mobile apps may allow for this autonomy they can also act as a method of containment in terms of sexuality and the responsibility of family planning.
Individual paper. #effyourbeautystandards: Resistance and Co-optation in the Body Positive Movement
Contemporary cultural representations of beauty in the United States are homogeneous and ubiquitous, emphasizing a feminine ideal of slenderness, youthfulness, and whiteness. Filling countless magazine pages and hours of airtime, western aesthetic norms celebrate and promote these ideals through popular media’s depictions of white women’s bodies as extremely thin, yet with buxom breasts. However, with the advent of hashtag feminism on social media, body positive influencers have sought to challenge the normalization and idealization of thin bodies and encourage us to rethink the boundaries of the female body by positing an alternative aesthetic—one that is accepting and celebratory of bodies in varying shapes and sizes. Using interviews with body positive influencers and a content analysis of Instagram posts, I examine body positive’s relationship to beauty standards—whether influencers see addressing issues related to beauty standards as a goal of body positivity and how this is or isn’t represented in Instagram posts that use the hashtag #bodypositive. My interviews suggest that influencers feel body positivity has become a diluted and commodified version of its former self, focused on the individualist notion of “self-love” instead of liberating subjugated bodies by dismantling notions of appearance-based worth, increasing representation, and ensuring access to such resources as judgement-free healthcare bodies. My examination of Instagram posts tagged #bodypositive with those marked #fitspiration, another body-centered movement focused on strong, muscular women, dovetails with this assessment. Although a greater variety of bodies appear in posts tagged #bodypositive, including trans, persons of color, and fat bodies, than those tagged #fitspiration, both center hyper-feminized and sexualized white women who transgress norms of femininity in one dimension, fatness or strength. As my interviewees argue, and my content analysis confirms, by centering conventionally attractive, white, cis-women, mainstream body positivity upholds the racist, hetero-patriarchal visions of beauty that influencers seek to dismantle.
Individual paper. Fake News and Reality TV: How Media and Surveillance Technologies in The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and 1984 Stopped Being Fiction in 2016
This presentation examines the eerie prescience of dystopian novels by George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, and Susanne Collins in their exploration of media as a political tool of surveillance and control, and also, I hope, a study of how we the people (“proles” in Orwell’s terms) can and are fighting back. In 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Hunger Games trilogy, authors Orwell and Collins explore the alteration of truth and manipulation of citizens through surveillance and absolute control of the media in what can now be understood as a prefiguration of the 2016 election and the rise to power of a television celebrity who is obsessed with his ratings and advances “alternative facts” as a means of manipulating control of public opinion in a would-be democracy.
Workshop. "I can't be there, but I want to be."
This workshop will not present papers; rather, people will share their personal experiences attempting to connect virtually to conference, classes, and other meaningful events. When your only options are between "You *have* to be there" and missing out, opportunity after opportunity, is there a true choice? Panelists will represent those on social media who could not otherwise attend the Gender, Bodies, and Technology conference in person, hence being directly linked to the issue of conference accessibility in relation to geographical issues, travel issues, and how disability intersects with professional development and presentations. What does it mean when we put so much importance on physical presence, in a conference about the intersections and potential of genders, bodies, and technologies?
Individual paper. Conscious Embodiment: Aesthetic Cultivation as Resistance to Global Capitalism
As the structures of global capitalism increasingly dominate our daily lives, the subjugation and marginalization of communities including women, racial and ethnic groups, queer-identified individuals, and other non-“traditional” bodies feel ever the more pervasive. Effective modes of resistance to capitalist power structures which subvert those power dynamics seem more intangible than ever. Capitalism itself becomes formless and disembodied, unidentifiable, everywhere and nowhere at once. Indeed, in the face of this looming global capitalist ether, so much resistance scholarship has tended towards advocating for inward resistance, largely imperceptible to others, thus theoretically avoiding the issue of bodiless capitalism and minimizing the risk of the cooptation of resistance by capitalist power structures. To be sure, resistance by and for the self are certainly “valuable” in ways which undermine capitalist notions of value and progress; but it does little to problematize this notion of an impenetrable, all-encompassing capitalism against which outward resistance is futile. I suggest that we should not let go of the affective resistance potential of aesthetics so easily. Specifically, I argue that in not making our resistance legible in the face of growing socioeconomic inequality, we are read as non-resistant, perceived as apathetic at best and implicit at worst in the global subjugation of peoples. We are thus left with the following question: how do we make resistance efforts within the self legible to world around us, to both elites and other resistors? In this paper, I engage with embodiment and disembodiment of aesthetic as modes of resistance to the power structures of global capitalism. I suggest that at the core of capitalism is a sort of embodiment sleight of hand – we are simultaneously coded as labor/worker/producer incarnate, all the while being disembodied from all conceptions of the self/personhood which do not serve capitalist conceptions of production. When the futurity of oneself and of one’s community becomes called into question, conscious embodiment through the cultivation of aesthetic – regardless of intended audience or lack thereof – becomes a radical form of resistance. Therefore, I argue in favor of a method of conscious cultivation of embodied aesthetic as a form of resistance to the embodiment prescribed upon us by capitalist power structures.
Individual paper. Assistive Technologies “In Kind”: Affect, Biocertification, and Disability
The central task of this paper is to begin to disentangle the work that the phenomenon of “fake” service/emotional support animals does in support of racial capitalism. Through an analysis of YouTube videos and GoFundMe campaigns, I map how suspicion coalesces around certain representations of disabled people and their service and/or emotional support animals. I situate my analysis of suspicion within a discussion of the intensification of genetics, specifically in the form of direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies such as 23andMe, thinking through how affect operates in terms of biocertification (Samuels 2014). I ultimately argue that the phenomenon of “fake” service/emotional support animals cannot be disentangled from the affective power that coalesces around the genetic “truth” of the body in the 21st century. Specifically, I investigate how suspicion circulates and sticks to three human/non-human animal relationships: Ehlena Fry and her service dog Wonder (who recently won a Supreme Court case allowing Ehlena to bring Wonder to school), YouTuber Claire and her “service angel” Percie, and conceptual artist Ventiko and her emotional support peacock, Dexter. Bringing together feminist disability studies, affect theory, and animal studies, I show how suspicion operates as a uniquely Trumpian neoliberal affect that serves to redraw an increasingly rigid binary between ability and disability through a repudiation of invisible disability, as well as forecloses possibilities for a livable life for disabled people and their companion animals that look “out of place.” Through my analysis of the phenomenon of “fake” service/emotional support animals, I rethink how assistive technologies of disability have been traditionally defined in order to theorize crip interdependence. I suggest a reimagining of companion species as assistive technology, which I argue forges a new cartography of the human/animal body that works to refigure alternative disability presents “in kind” (Weaver 2013).
Co-authored paper. Resisting normative metamorphosis: “living with” and “thinking with” human-microbial care relations
See R Howes-Mischel.
Individual paper. Transgender journeys of Dao Mau religious mediums and their popularity in the Internet
The widespread development of the Internet and cutting-edge technologies, including smartphones and cameras, help Vietnamese mediums spread the possession both male and female deities in their bodies to the world. In Dao Mau - an indigenous Vietnamese religion and identified by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, male mediums tend to be more effeminate while female spiritual practitioners become more masculine.. In len dong - a core ritual practice of Dao Mau, mediums experience a transgender journey while their bodies are continuously possessed by the souls of male and female deities. With the aid of various sensory elements such as the strong colors of the costumes and offerings, hat van - invocation hymns, and dances, religious practitioners enjoy moments of ecstasy performing perceived acts of male and female deities. After the bodies of mediums incarnate female and male spirits, mediums feel powerful and enjoy the power of deities that they do not gain in their daily lives. These ecstatic moments are publicly livestreamed, reacted and debated in social media platforms and websites by thousands of worshippers and non-religious persons. How do mediums and their followers understand the mediums’ gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality through the incarnation? Have their understandings of gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality changed because of len dong? How have the mediums’ acts of subverting or ‘queering’ heteronormative cultural ideals of gender and sexuality impacted their followers’ attitudes towards the wider LGBT community in Vietnam? How has the spread of len dong on the Internet helped to establish new debates of gender and sexuality? I argue that the transgender journey helps mediums and participants shape a tolerant attitude toward gender diversity and recognition of non-binary practices. With the boom of modern devices and the development of social media, the transgender journey as well as non-binary practices become visible in social discourses and then receive public sympathy. It helps queer practitioners of Dao Mau not to suffer from homophobia or transphobia.
Short performance. Navigating Hmong Feminism
“Navigating Hmong Feminism” is a three- to four-minute performative poem that expresses the frustrations and labor of being a Hmong feminist. Being such a complex and continually growing community which has sought refuge from the Secret War (read: Vietnam War) only a little over forty years ago, the Hmong community has gone through much acculturation. However, what does social justice and feminism look like within this community, especially online? How are discourses of gender and the patriarchy, at the intersection of Hmong and American, being encoded and decoded through social media platforms and comment threads? This poem yearns to unearth and understand these questions and interactions within the Hmong community. It calls out the misogyny and the ignorance that many actively deny, pointing out topics such as: domestic violence, “not all Hmong men,” toxic masculinity, and international marriages. It brings into focus White feminism and the silencing of womxn of color and their stories. Although there are some experiences and stories told through the mainstream with regard to feminism, some voices are still, as ever, left unheard. Considering how the Asian and Pacific Islanders are homogenized into a pan-Asian identity, one story does not speak for all; there is a myth of having equal access to all stories through technology, but this only creates more misrepresentations and silences. Consequently, this poem seeks to contribute a hidden voice into feminism, media studies, and cultural studies. It seeks to amplify one voice of those left unheard, invisible, and othered. Not only can connections be made through performative narratives, but seeing and hearing differences is equally important in creating solidarity and space.
VCR (Virtual Conflicted Reality), L
Humancomputerlove.com | Personals: Participatory speculative design for technologies of intimacy
Humancomputerlove.com is a participatory speculative design/fiction project to imagine radical possibility for technologies of intimacy and queering of virtual/machine bodies. As a personals ads website, it invites people to propose alternative visions for chatbots, sex robots, and virtual/augmented/mixed reality experiences that challenge those being produced by media and market forces.
Existing representations of sex technologies largely reinforce the desire of cis-hetero white men, perpetuating systemic devaluation of bodies belonging to targeted identities (black and brown bodies, women, trans, queer, non-binary, and disabled bodies). Humancomputerlove.comasks: how might technology empower targeted groups, make sex more accessible, queer desire, decolonize beauty standards, facilitate ‘love’ as well as sex, and create economic models where sex workers can integrate into and profit from these technologies.
Humancomputerlove.com is a work-in-progress. The crowd-sourced visions from the personal ads will later be prototyped as physical/virtual objects and ultimately incorporated into a short film.
VCR (Virtual Conflicted Reality), L
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Feminist Architecture: critiquing the historico-scientific practices of cartography and geography
I first review the issues of power, vision, and representation in the traditional practices and sciences of geography and cartography, specifically within historical resonance of western imperialism and colonialism. After critiquing the masculine-gendered and scientifically produced gaze, as seen in state-mapping practices and other large institutions, I suggest an alternative, feminist critical mapping lens that challenges a top-down perspective, one that I suggest as “feminist architecture,” a phrase borrowed from Gloria Anzaldúa. Additionally inspired by feminist cartography and following from Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledges,”, I propose feminist architecture as an embodied, mobile, and multi-perspective mapping, or re-mapping practice. I argue that this is effective in three ways: by first, inverting and actively resisting the gaze from nowhere, second, by acknowledging the potential for essentializing the Subaltern or “Third World” perspective, and finally by value in oscillation, movement, and displacement, as we map the in-between and vertiginous spaces of identity practices.
Co-authored performance/Live podcast taping. Lean Back LIVE
See L Corrigan.
Individual paper. Posthuman Anxiety in the Sex Industry: The Strange Case of Aura Dolls
On August 30, 2018, roughly a week before its scheduled opening, a sex doll brothel was shut down by the city of Toronto. Plagued by citizen protests, Toronto revoked the license of a business named Aura Dolls, claiming that its presence in the district would have violated a little-known, decades-old ordinance forbidding sex retail shops from opening in non-industrial areas. This paper will examine the responses to this brothel in order to interrogate the anxiety found in the blurring of the fragile boundary between human/non-human, creating an amalgam of both posthuman anxiety and whorephobia, a term coined by Gavin Jack to describe the hatred of sex workers. Within recent months, protests against Aura Dolls have spread like wildfire, with Canadian citizens condemning everything from the “dirtiness” of the sex workers to the “weird” nature of the brothel. Here, the brothel represented something more: it was a sex doll brothel, something that made the population of people who lived, worked, and shopped in the area uneasy. I believe this need by the concerned citizens to have a boundary between the non-human ‘other’ seeping into their human world is a type of posthuman anxiety, one that exists alongside the whorephobia experienced by human women in the sex industry. Indeed, the dolls owned by Aura Dolls are neither human women nor do they resemble the sex robots that have appeared in popular culture. Essentially, the dolls in question are both entirely too human and not human enough.
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Eugenic Facts/Speculative Fictions: Foreclosing on Feminist/Queer/Crip Futures in California Public Law
In an investigation into reports that people inside California prisons for women were being reproductively sterilized as recently as 2010, doctors and medical administrators used eugenics rationale as justification. One doctor, for example, compared the cost of a tubal ligation on a prisoner with the money that the state would save in future welfare payments and crime reduction. While his comments were roundly derided, less attention was brought to the subsequent legislative process and its attempt to “solve” eugenics within the state’s prison medical system. This case is illustrative of my argument that eugenics is not just an ideology held by a few bad apples that end up in state employment, but rather is a persistent structuring logic within public law and public policy in California. Public law continues to privilege the public health emergency as justification for violations of bodily autonomy, accepting and reproducing arguments that some populations need to be contained to protect the health and futurity of the body politic. Public law in California also continues to operate under a sociotechnical imaginary of perfection, mastery, and ultimate solutions. Regardless of intention, a very real consequence of this is that public law routinely enacts technical fixes that result in the foreclosure of feminist, queer, and crip futures. If the realms of public law and public policy are entangled in the logic of eugenics, then what forums exist for imagining and materializing alternative feminist, queer, and crip futures? I turn to feminist speculative fiction as a genre that rejects liberal state progress narratives in favor of illustrating how eugenics remains an active presence in daily life. Further, feminist speculative fiction is a space for envisioning alternative versions of bioethics and carceral abolition, including versions that reject appeals to the liberal state to solve problems, and instead enact forms of mutual aid. I use the BBC America television series Orphan Black as one example of a feminist speculative that grapples with the contradictions, incommensurability, and ambiguity of a bioethical life in excess of eugenics.
Individual paper. Haraway x Wearables: Cyborgs vs. Electronic Marionettes
If cyborgs are maps of power, then the use of wearables in autism intervention plot a dark cartography of neoliberal technoeugenics and normative violence. Designed to trace, track, detect, predict, notify, control, coerce, restrain, and retrain - wearables like the empatica, Google Glass, fitbit, angelsense, and others are being pitched as pervasive and ubiquitous assistive “hope for autism” as wearers are constrained by design to regress toward the performative normative mean. “Quiet hands.” “Look me in the eye.” The purpose of these technologies is to facilitate a rapid and intensified normalization of the autistic wearer - there is no room to conceptualize the autistic person as the user in these contexts. Even if an autistic person willingly places Google glass on their head, where does that willingness come from? Does it come from an autonomous sense that they need to change their inherent way of being in order to access the world? Or does it come from an introjected sense of deficit? That they do not deserve access unless they can conform? These are not emancipatory technologies - these are marionette strings. If computer science researchers do not take seriously their responsibility and duty to critically examine the power they hold and reinscribe in the artifacts we build, we will continue to build a cyborgified future that would make Donna Haraway want to burn her book. In this paper, I will cover normative violence of the dominant themes of wearable technologies for autism research, in which autistic people are figured simultaneously as “broken computers” and as in need of “human-like computers” in order to become whole. I will also illustrate the micro-resistances engaged in by the participants of these violent studies, and the ways they signal methodological flaws and ethical violations. Finally, paying particular homage to Jillian Weise’s assertions that we, as disabled people are already Cyborgs, and do not require liberation into any cyborg future, I discuss potentials of wearables for autistic cyborgs, if only we’d be given the agency to choose our mods.
Individual paper. Heavenly Bodies: Why Cyborgs Were Always About Disability and Mental Health
This paper frames a theory which specifically attacks and deconstructs the medical model of disability, and champions the social model. I imagine what this could have done for the destigmatization of disability in general, and mental health in particular. Cyborgs and space travel are and always have been about disability, but our western society has in many ways eliminated that history from the popular narrative. Back in 1960, at the outset of the Space Race, Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline wrote an article for the September issue of Aeronautics called “Cyborgs and Space.” In this article, they coined the term “cyborg” as a portmanteau of the phrase “Cybernetic Organism”—that is, a living creature with the ability to reflexively adapt its body to changes in its environment. Clynes and Kline believed that if humans were ever going to go far out into space, the species would have to become the kinds of creatures that could survive things like cosmic radiation, the vacuum of space, and harsh, if not outright hostile planetary ecologies. What many folx do not know is that Nathan S. Kline was also the very same Nathan S. Kline who created antidepressants. It can thus be said that the work of Kline’s life was in trying to figuring out how to techochemically intervene in the reflexive interoperation of bodyminds. He was always trying to sort out how humans could intentionally self-regulate through tech and chemicals. We also consider this history in conjunction with the cultural currency of the cyborg myth. From the TERMINATOR mythos, to comic book representations, to Donna Haraway, to Luke Skywalker; from eugenics to the shiny future eugenics of transhumanism. All of these images of “perfecting” the human condition or “fixing” “broken” bodies or, conversely, of “losing” humanity and becoming something “less than,” via technological interventions into the body. I, instead, imagine a world where, at every stage of the development of cyborg theory, the perspective of reflexive adaptation between disability and intervention had been highlighted and reinforced, and where that reflexive adaptation is recognized as a standard fact of life and lived experience.
See J Murray.
Individual paper. Power Tools: Empowerment, Innovation, and the Corporate Use of Feminist Values Empowerment has become staple virtues of corporate mission statements and strategy. Facebook’s first tenet is “empowering people,” and the company now offers users Reaction emojis to “show empathy toward one another.” The design firm IDEO describes empathy as an essential part of its human-centered design toolkit. Recently, columnist Thomas Friedman has argued that the next economic frontier will be “STEMpathy” jobs. From where did this emphasis originate? And, what does it reveal about the evolving meanings of innovation and innovators? This talk explores how key tenets of today’s corporate best practices emerged in the intersection of feminist theory and novel forms of innovation expertise in the 1970s and 1980s. I anchor the analysis in the work and life of Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Kanter began her career as a sociologist of alternative communes and did pioneering work on the concept of “tokenism” in organizations. In the 1980s, she applied feminist analyses of power to become a leading innovation consultant through her company GoodMeasure, Inc. as well as the first woman editor of the Harvard Business Review. In her book The Change Masters, Kanter argued that successful innovative companies were those that created the most equitable cultures. She offered a widely copied set of “power tools” to enhance the decision-making of individuals and the innovative capacity of companies. I place Kanter’s work on empowerment in the broader history of gender and capitalism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries to investigate how ideas honed in progressive social movements were appropriated, operationalized, and distributed in corporate environments. I also explore the contradictions of “feminist” values in a tech-economy that in demography and in culture remains dominantly male and masculine. Ultimately, I hope to understand the complex and understudied role of gender in visions of innovation.
Individual paper. Sentient Saviors: Bots n’ Bombs for Women’s Rights
Sophia is the humanoid robot who took the world by storm in 2016. Known for her “hot” bod, her weighted wit, and her supposed unwavering commitment to human rights, Sophia has begun to pose a myriad of philosophical conundrums to the mainstream: Is Sophia as relatable as she is marketed to be? Can affect be technologically constructed? Can a desire for justice be programmed? While an analysis can be constructed on the weariness of some of the robot age, I am not interested in recreating binary understandings of the romantic past and the apocalyptic future. Instead, I am invested in exploring the significance of the construction and performance of Sophia as an advocate for human rights. In particular, I wish to unpack the specificity of the supposed instillation of Sophia with just principles and the worldwide response to Sophia’s social justice commitments. What does it mean for Sophia- a humanoid bot- to be hailed as a human rights advocate? More specifically, what does it mean for Sophia’s to fight for “Women’s Rights in the Middle East?” Similarly, what does it mean for Sophia to address- and inadvertently uphold- the United Nations about material solutions to resource deprivation (an entity culpable for the codification of Imperial Dominance, catastrophe, displacement, and the structural proliferation of Zionism)? Both of these political lines are laced with Zionist, Orientalist, Imperialist, and Liberal rhetorics. Thus, begs: How does Sophia’s robotic performance of liberalism codify New Age Hegemony? In particular, how do her creators characterize her in this way and why do they do so? What is the cultural significance of programming Sophia as a palpable but conservative social justice advocate? How does this become its own mirror reflecting the normalcy of liberal imperialism? Drawing on Jasbir Puar and merging her work with key robotic and futurity studies theorists, I aim to explore the creation of Sophia, her interviews with various platforms, and juxtapose the framing of her by her creators against her participation in conversations and interviews when not being directly spoken for/ guided. Fundamentally, I wish to draw attention to the ways in which hegemony and technology are necessarily bound by paralleling the creation of Sophia to military technology: How does her physicality as a robot and the political line she pushes resemble other forms of technology used to recreate the same types of imperialism and surveillance? That being said, I do still wish to complicate understandings of technology by attempting to dissect the essence of Sophia from who she is framed to be. Ultimately, I take inspiration from concepts of disidentification and subversion to see if the Sophia within is the Sophia everyone thinks they are talking to.
Individual paper. Fighting neurotypical fragility and building a critically resistant Imaginary: Autistic People are Us
Autism is a highly complex and heterogeneous condition whose many facets are just beginning to reach a larger public through books such as Temple Grandin’s The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum and Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes. Silberman makes a number of points, including that an autistic person is not a shell with a neurotypical person waiting to be retrieved; and autistic people are done with being “spectators in their own stories.” To follow and absorb various realities of people with autism, there are few filmic representations for pondering. After Rainman made the word autistic become a new household topic in 1988, very few others are available to consider. The 9th cycle of America’s Next Top Model featured Heather Kuzmich, a model who is on the spectrum. Banks’ good humored tolerance of the model’s non-stop stream of words was praised as a sign of radical acceptance, although the contrived nature of the exchange was immediately noted by people working in the disability community and later the model herself noted that the editors did not include footage in which she was welcomed and accepted by the other models. The recent Netflix TV series Atypical by Robia Rashid centers on one high schooler, Sam, who has autism. While early episodes disappointingly suggest a family with an autistic member suffers and sacrifices a great deal for that person, within the context of a light comedy-drama, its warmth for the main character and some of the topics it explores such as police treatment and college admission forwards dialogue about inclusion. This talk proposes to look at Atypical, and two recent blockbuster Bollywood films with autistic characters, Barfi (2012) and My Name is Khan (2010), to examine several questions. First, what do they expose about neurotypical fragility or the disbelieving defensiveness of people who think their creation is outside of an ableist frame? That is, what underlying tensions and refusals are revealed by the autistic fictional figures neurotypicals make? How does looking at these stories alongside a film like Deej, made by a 22-year old autistic man, reveal the other depictions as quite particular and partial in their construction? How do any of these stories illuminate the fairly different ways autism might be experienced by girls versus boys? Finally, to fully see autistic people as “us” means honoring expressions of joy over sexuality as well. How might these films challenge a normative paradigm of what is seen as “sexy,” helping us honor autistic people’s joy in their aliveness expressed through sexual rapture or jouissance?
Individual paper. Stripping for the State and Other Queer Acts: Technologies, Surveillance, and Questions of Objectivity
This paper engages with notions of technological objectivity as they play out through securitization, militarization, and the neoliberal state. In particular, this paper examines whole-body imaging at TSA through the framework of Angela Davis’s “strip search as state sanctioned sexual violence” and Jasbir Puar’s “Terrorist Assemblages” as the terrorist as always inherently pathological, queer and deviant, thus warranting imperialized “straight making” and correction – often through the use of militarized violence. I engage with these frameworks in the space of the airport because this is a tangible space where these ideologies are enacted on our bodies. The data for this analysis comes from the Surveillance chapter of my Master’s thesis titled “Path to Self, Path to Home: Arab Diasporic Reflections on State Violence, Authenticities and Belonging”, where my interlocutors and I shared with each other our experiences of gendered and racialized violence at the hands of TSA – and my own theorization of our experiences within these frameworks. This paper expands on our experiences in this context and turns towards questions of the possibilities of technologies and futurities of resistance. Foucault says that surveillance is integral to modernity, and Fiske reminds us that it is not just surveillance, but the surveillance of people of color, black folx, and colonized folx that is modernity. Modernity is already inherently laced with notions of colonization; and technology is a project inherent to modernization. I ask simply, is technology inherently good or evil? Does technology have an inherent disposition? How are technologies marketed towards us as “objective” and where do we see the schisms of this conception? Does this even matter? Can we, as raced, gendered, trans, disabled and migrant minorities, truly escape the panoptic gaze of surveillance technologies that are always reinforcing biological essentialism of gender, disability, race and religion? Always seeking to “objectively” otherize, contain, and erase us from the future? How do we subvert these erasures and violence, and how can we inhabit a “third space” in the identities that surveillance technologies categorize us into?