CFP / AAA 2017: “Digital Deception and the Queer Life of Data”
Organized by Mitali Thakor (Northwestern), Shaka McGlotten (SUNY Purchase), and Paul Michael Atienza (UIUC)
Keywords: critical data studies, biometrics, intimacy, secrecy, queer studies
This panel explores questions of secrecy, exposure, and deception through intimate narratives of data. Drawing on queer media studies, science and technology studies, and the anthropology of expertise, we focus on the role of designers and programmers in the production of mediated sexual experiences, as well as users’ forms of playful resistance to modes of data collection and ubiquitous surveillance. The “interface” of sexual experiences offers a provocative point of entry for discussions of materiality, mediation, and artifice in the context of present moralizing practices and imagined digital futures. In recent years, anthropologists have turned a critical eye towards data science and data collection techniques (cf. Andrejevic 2014; Boellstorff 2013; Boellstorff and Maurer 2015; Gitelman 2013; Kitchin and Lariault 2014). Biometric technologies, from body image detection to voice recognition software and even to dating and hookup apps, have been particularly scrutinized for the ways in which they contribute to a securitized culture that exposes and criminalizes Black and brown bodies, and polices forms of perceived racial and sexual deviance (cf. Browne 2010; Gates 2011; Magnet 2011). But how does securitization produce certain modes of data intimacy as people anticipate being surveilled? How do people resist their bodily quantification through an intimate awareness of what Simone Browne has called a “critical biometric consciousness” (2015)? How can a queer analysis of data intimacies keep us attuned to the ways in which scenes of submission can be subverted into moments of power and resistance through trickery or even playfulness?