Black Cyborgs: Blackness Narratives in Technology, Speculative Fiction, and Digital Cultures

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Black Cyborgs: Blackness Narratives in Technology, Speculative Fiction, and Digital Cultures

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2020-06

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This project draws from the deep well of Black science fiction, original interviews with Black science fiction authors, and popular media case studies and analysis to generate new discourses about Black people and technology. Exploring the ways Black people have taken up both science fiction and technology, I argue that Black feminist thinkers can use both as blueprints for survival, joy, and community-building. Seeking to find strategies for effective communication within our shared political and technosocial lives, this project advances speculative fiction and cyborg theory as dynamic tools which we must utilize to build the future of feminist studies, Black studies, and digital political organizing. Beginning with Donna Haraway’s essay “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” and expanding to recent explorations of the cyborg from women of color theorists like Joy James and Jasbir Puar, I situate Black feminist cyborgs in the current field of feminist cyborg theory. I offer a “part-time” Black feminist cyborg theory, a practical aesthetic which aids Black people’s movement and theorizing in digital spaces, chronicled by hashtags and characterized by the fast-paced nature of digital communication. To illustrate the possibilities of such an aesthetic, I engage Chicana philosopher Maria Lugones’ theory of traveling to the metaphorical “worlds” of other women. I extend her work, envisioning a part-time Black feminist cyborg optimized for travel to and through the digital worlds of social media like Facebook and Twitter, asking how Black people arrive in these worlds and what they experience once there. Illuminating a tradition of technological engagement by Black communities and calling attention to dreams of futures free of oppression, my interdisciplinary project shapes the future directions of Black feminist theory, digital organizing, and political resistance to entrenched and renewed white supremacy.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2020. Major: Feminist Studies. Advisors: Catherine Squires, Annie Hill. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 229 pages.

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Gunn, Caitlin. (2020). Black Cyborgs: Blackness Narratives in Technology, Speculative Fiction, and Digital Cultures. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/216885.

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