CFP: Technologies of Sexuality and Gender

A seminar propoal for ACLA 2016, March 17-20, at Harvard University

Sponsored by the International Comparative Literature Association’s Comparative Gender Studies Committee

Abstracts by September 23 and further details at http://www.acla.org/seminar/technologies-sexuality-and-gender-sponsored-icla-comparative-gender-studies-committee

Intersections of technology and sex, gender, and sexuality evoke myriad occasions for sexual/gender expression, rebellion, and regulation, as Donna Haraway elucidates in “The Cyborg Manifesto.” Feminist techno-utopianism appears in theory, science fiction, and practice, from Charlotte Perkins Gilman, to Shulamith Firestone, to contemporary feminist DIY, bio-, and digital hacking. Yet, in Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Sedgwick is “chilled by the breezes of … technological confidence,” given technologism’s frequent aim of biological and social control—often by eliminating “undesirables,” as histories of eugenics and intersections of scientific racism, gender, and sexuality attest. Technology’s ability to open or close off possibilities of gender and sexual subjectivity or expression produce tensions between technology as a “degendering” ideal and historical genderings of technologies. Haraway successors, such as Karen Barad, reconcile these poles by addressing the “material-discursive practices” that configure the scientific and the social as discrete. Instead, such reflections propose that neither meaning nor matter is passive.

Both queer and regulatory possibilities arise in historical and contemporary development & use of sex toys and prostheses, and in fraught intersections of sexuality and gender with the internet and digital culture. Reproductive technologies participate in forms of neoimperialism through the use of Western money to restrict reproductive options in postcolonial nations and to hire marginalized women as reproductive surrogates. Meanwhile, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and technologies remains contested in the West, as efforts to mobilize fears surrounding fetal stem cell research to defund Planned Parenthood attest. Access to medical treatments and biomedical regulatory mechanisms inform technologies of masculinity and femininity more broadly, notably in relation to passing and gatekeeping for trans* people. While global disparities in medical access to HIV testing and treatment are pronounced, the advent of anti-retrovirals and viral load testing has fundamentally shifted the position of the HIV-positive body in affluent nations. Nevertheless, recent controversies over PrEP suggest that the liberatory possibilities of biomedicine are always already subject to new regulatory discourses and fears.

We welcome comparative explorations of technology’s relationship with sex, sexuality, and gender in its manifold material and imaginative iterations from a range of geographic and historical locations. Drawing from theoretical traditions such as feminist, gender, queer, trans, critical race, postcolonial, disability, etc., proposed papers might approach these issues comparatively from disciplines including, but not limited to, literary, media, digital, legal, (bio)medical, and sociocultural studies.

Submit an abstract at: http://www.acla.org/node/add/paper?seminar=5214




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