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Title:Freedom devices: four essays on technology, culture, and citizenship
Author(s):Doran, Steven
Director of Research:Treichler, Paula A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Treichler, Paula A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hay, James W.; Cole, Cheryl L.; Fouché, Rayvon
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
mobile technology
queer studies
science and technology studies
Abstract:This study is made up of four essays on technology, culture, and citizenship. While there are overlapping themes and concerns amongst all the chapters, each chapter also stands on its own. Taken together, they explore the complicated and under-examined connections amongst these three concepts. Chapter One, “Queering the Master’s Tools,” explores the ways in which queer strategies of technological appropriation simultaneously serve as means of expressing identity, of resisting its reification, and of refusing the option of cultural homogenization. In the second essay, “Pink Triangulations,” I investigate the relationship between heterotopic space, queer identity, and mobile communications technology. My third chapter, “Freedom Devices,” examines issues of power, technology, and governance through the lens of Information and Communication Technologies, or ICTs. The last essay, “New Visiblities” examines emerging forms of data-driven distributed surveillance. Emphasizing the proliferation of surveillance technologies and practices throughout U.S. culture, I argue that the prevailing explanatory narrative for surveillance – the Big Brother narrative from George Orwell’s 1984 – is outdated, inadequate, and misleading in its framing of the nature and role of surveillance Above all, these essays seek to understand technology through the lens of culture. As a primary site where reality is constituted, it is culture – through language and representation – that teaches us what is true or not, what is real or not, and what is possible or not. It also helps us understand the roles and manifestations of technoscience today. Too often technology, like science and medicine, has been approached as apolitical, ahistorical, and non-symbolic – as a “true material base generating our merely symbolic superstructure” (Treichler 1999, p. 15). But given the symbolic’s privileged position as our gateway to the real, the representation of technologies in popular culture is amongst the most significant of these forces: it is where meanings are introduced, contested, stabilized, or challenged. To examine the cultural life of a technology is to gain a more accurate and more robust understanding of the function and significance of these artifacts and practices, as well as the sociotechnical and technocultural systems within which they are embedded.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Steven Doran
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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