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Friday, October 12 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Assemblages of the Socio-Technical II

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“I LIKE THAT IT'S MY CHOICE A COUPLE DIFFERENT TIMES": GENDER, EMPOWERMENT, AND AFFORDANCES ON BUMBLE DATING
Urszula Pruchniewska
The mobile dating app Bumble has been publicly lauded as the "feminist Tinder," because only women are allowed to start the conversation - and they must do it within 24 hours of matching with someone or the match disappears forever. The reasoning behind this feature is to empower women in the dating situation. Using 14 in-depth interviews alongside a walk-through mapping of the app's features and functionalities, this article interrogates this "feminist dating" discourse by focusing on the materiality of the platform. The analysis shows that online dating is a series of choices for women, choices that simultaneously 1) try to lead towards a love match and 2) steer away from harassment and abuse, so that Bumble fulfills a double-edged function, of being simultaneously a “matchmaker” and a “protector” platform. Because harassment on online dating is much more common for women, female users engage with Bumble with a “harm prevention” mindset throughout their use of the app, using all the affordances of Bumble (not just the ones designated as such by the app’s designers) to steer away from possibly difficult or harmful situations. The proclivity towards prevention of harm/reduction of risk adds tremendous amounts of additional, invisible labor to women’s navigation of Bumble – and to women’s uses of online dating in general. Because of the gendered laborious and highly individualistic way that women feel compelled to use the platform, the notion of Bumble as a feminist dating app can be troubled.

CONFIGURING THE TRANS VOICE: GENDER, RACE, AND CLASS IN MOBILE VOICE TRAINING APPLICATIONS FOR TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
Alex Ahmed, Anna Lauren Hoffmann
Mobile voice training applications for transgender people exist at an intersection between software design, visual culture, and trans embodiment as mediated by medical and clinical institutions. From the text and images used to the way voices and results are arranged and framed, their design configure and construct the ideal feminine or masculine “trans voice.” In the following, we pair Critical Discourse Analysis with the walkthrough method for studying software applications to examine the configurations of gender, race, and class that underwrite ideals of “voice” in trans voice training apps. Initial findings show that his ideal “voice” appears to hew to closely to hegemonic conceptions of race and binary gender, undermining the applications’ therapeutic or liberating potential.

A HAUNTOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF DIGITAL MEMORIALIZATION OF THE DEAD
Carrie O'Connell
Facebook now allows pages of the deceased to remain active, controlled by immediate family members of a deceased person, as a sort of memorialization or “electronic wake,” (Stokes, 2011). The overall goal of the author is to examine the evolution of the materiality of memorialization and investigate how our human connection with death has changed as our media tools have become untethered from tangible artefact. To explore the links between media, human relationships, and the spectral plane, and how those links might be revelatory in an age of digital media, a hauntological examination of these questions will be endeavored.

The basic premise of hauntology, a clever merge of haunting and ontology derived by Jacques Derrida (1993), is that an idea, once tangibly realized and made real in the cultural zeitgeist, is never truly extinguished. Derrida’s hauntology derives from the ontological quest to articulate the nature of being, yet with the added perspective that everything that exists might not have ever lived, and nothing which is past ever really quite dies. This is no more so true than in our heavily mediated age in which written documents, photographs, film, and the Internet are able to capture, record, store—and, as will be discussed—even replicate beingness in physical form. In an age where simulacra parade as true being, and cultural memory of events as accepted historical provenance, perhaps a new perspective on the relationship between being and death is timely.

FROM HERE TO QUEER: TRANSNATIONAL CONNECTIVITY, DIGITAL MEDIA AND QUEER ORIENTATION
Matilda Tyra Kristina Tudor
This paper provides a phenomenological perspective on transnational connectivity through digital media among queer men within contemporary Russia. Drawing on an understanding of queer orientation (Ahmed, 2006), as an embodied achievement produced through repeated turnings, I ask how transnational connectivity orient queer men in time and space. This question further takes on significance in a situation where queer Russian citizens are currently being excluded from politics of national belonging (Edenborg, 2016).

The paper draws on findings from my ongoing PhD project, based on ethnographic work in Saint Petersburg during 2013 – 2015. Within the dissertation I look at how queer dispositioned individuals in openly homophobic environments live and move their bodies in space, taking into account norm-critical phenomenology of bodily comportment (Ahmed, 2006; Fanon, 2007 [1952] Marion Young, 1980). Adding the lens of media phenomenology (Moores, 2012; Morely, 2000), I want to grasp how digital media is taken up and experienced within queer individuals projecting of themselves towards their worlds.

As informants reach out to queer others near and far, it thus becomes interesting to see what orientations emerge on a geographical scale, and where they themselves imagine a queer home? The paper concludes that transnational queer connectivity through digital media may produced “queerscapes”; as in “transnational ‘enabling networks’ for elaborating queer understandings of space, gender and sexuality” (Hacker, 2007:79), which did not appear in reach within their immediate surroundings. But on the other hand, this is for some also connected with intense feelings of displacements.


Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Sheraton - Salon 5

Attendees (26)