Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Participants: Ben Allen * Stephanie August * Damon Loren Baker * Theo Ellin Ballew * Ivette Bayo Urban * John Bell * Paisley Benaza * Kathi Berens * David Berry * Sayan Bhattacharyya * Christina Boyles * Gregory Bringman * André Brock * Ron Burkey * Evan Buswell * Sarah Ciston * Eileen Clancy * Tara Conley * Krystal Cooper * Ranjodh Dhaliwal * Anthony Di Franco * Craig Dietrich * Jeremy Douglass * Kevin Driscoll * William Dyson * Brandee Easter * Martin Erwig * Schuyler Esprit * Max Feinstein * Todd Furmanski * Geoffrey Gimse * Erin Glass * Rochelle Gold * Catherine Griffiths * Ben Grosser * Fox Harrell * Sydette Harry * Brendan Howell * Nazua Idris * Jessica Johnson * Waliya Yohanna Joseph * Ted Kafala * Dorothy Kim * Corinna Kirsch * Steve Klabnik * Shelly Knotts * Peter Kudenov * Fidelia Lam * Liz Losh * Thor Magnusson * Jim Malazita * Judy Malloy * Zach Mann * Mark Marino * Lauren McCarthy * Irma McClaurin * Patrick McDonnell * Tara McPherson * Todd Milstein * Nick Montfort * Mark Neal * Safiya Noble * Keith O'Hara * David Ogborn * Allison Parrish * Ali Pearl * Gerol Petruzella * Andrew Pilsch * Samuel Pizelo * Jessica Pressman * Helen Pritchard * Daniel Punday * Kristopher Purzycki * Harvey Quamen * Amit Ray * Margaret Rhee * Lisa Rhody * Scott Richmond * Teddy Roland * Jamal Russell * Anastasia Salter * Mark Sample * Evan Schauer * Ari Schlesinger * Mehdy Sedaghat Payam * Ash Smith * Winnie Soon * Glen Southergill * Mel Stanfill * Samara Hayley Steele * Nikki Stevens * Tonia Sutherland * Miriam Sweeney * Ezra Teboul * Daniel Temkin * Dennis Tenen * Marilyn M. Thomas-Houston * Elizabeth Timbs * Giuseppe Torre * Rebecca Uliasz * Annette Vee * Sneha Veeragoudar * Ashleigh Wade * Kurt James Werner * Jacque Wernimont * Zach Whalen * Roger Whitson * Roger Whitson * Michael Widner * Jody Zellen * Kai Zhang
Coordinated by Mark Marino (USC), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), Catherine Griffiths (USC), Ali Rachel Pearl (USC), and Teddy Roland (UCSB). Sponsored by the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab (USC), and the Digital Arts and Humanities Commons (UCSB).

Workshop topics--division of race and gender

edited January 17 in General
A conversation on choice of topics and approaches to organization of the working group weeks, the application process, and the way that topics / categories and their intersections are made legible through the working group format and through the online forum.

This discussion was created from comments split from: Introductions.

Comments

  • edited January 20

    @tonia_sutherland said: (In Introductions)

    (I also want to talk about how, even for CCSWG18, I had to choose between the week on race and the week on gender to propose a discussion on Black women’s safety.)

    Looking forward to our conversations!

    ^This right here! I had some similar thoughts during sign up about the division of race and gender (as if these categories exist separately?)... I'm hoping this group can critically engage how whiteness continues to shape assumptions in code studies, and strategize disruptions and ways forward that embrace intersectional formations.

  • @tonia_sutherland @mirsween -- great point, and I very much agree that we should not conceptualize or discuss gender / race in mutually exclusive terms. To build on that, I feel that this is also true that gender/creativity, race/creativity, and gender/race/creativity -- they are not mutually exclusive. From what I know so far the featured thread leaders don't have any interest in patrolling such boundaries. Hopefully the weekly topics will act as topics, not as mutually exclusive categories -- and our discussions will blow the doors off any illusion that these topics are separable.

    One thing to note: CCSWG is using off-the-shelf forum software, and one of the things forum software does is divide and partition discourses into spaces -- that's its structural concept of how to facilitate conversation. In this case, perhaps that core concept of the forum software genre is pernicious, and/or the concept of these weekly topics isn't a helpful frame for that discussion -- a discussion on Black women’s safety should at the very least be cross-posted so that it is visible in both topics simultaneously. As far as I can see from a quick look, cross-posting isn't possible in this forum (in fact, strangely it looks like multi-category posting was removed ~2014). In addition to already featuring every discussion at the top-level of the site (regardless of "topic") we could also think about adding tags / folksonomy to facilitate intersectional discourse -- or even making tags a primary idiom or the primary idiom of forum navigation. I would love thoughts and suggestions on this. Should we move that to its own discussion outside the Introductions thread?

  • @jeremydouglass @tonia_sutherland
    Hi Jeremy,
    I liked your idea of opening up a separate thread where we could collectively spend time talking through these kinds of concepts- it seems like we have the beginnings of some productive conversation! I'll save my further comments for that space. Cheers! -M

  • edited January 17

    @mirsween @tonia_sutherland I have created a general forum discussion here to make space for this conversation and give it more exposure. Still trying to figure out how to make members moderators of specific discussions -- let me know if you would like to modify the discussion title.

  • There is an impression on my heart that Religion influences coding as in prgramming and the digital poetry coding.

  • Thanks to @tonia_sutherland and @mirsween for raising this. I do see discussion of race arising in the "gender discussion" so hopefully we can keep building that in with intent and purpose and carry forward to include gender in the "race discussion."

  • I just want to echo what @jeremydouglass said on this subject. Thank you @melstanfill and @mirsween for intervening on this issue. When we were planning the weeks we did discuss ways to foster critiques from intersectional points of view. You'll see that the Thread leaders mention race and gender in their opening post. Hopefully, Critical Code Studies can be a place where full humanity is always acknowledged, and @Waliya, that includes religion or faith as well as philosophy, thinking here now of Joseph Weizenbaum and all his concerns about our loss of humanity, even as we turned his program into a therapist.

    But at the same time, sometimes we need to try a particular lens in order to see something more clearly. That's what I'm learning from Black Code Studies. It's not that we forget about the other perspectives, but that examining an object of study through one lens for a discrete period of time can reveal what a holistic approach might obscure. That said, it might also obscure other observations that an intersectional approach can. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    Most of all, this is our space, so please, let's knock down the walls that are impeding our progress.

  • edited January 18

    Thank you @jeremydouglass for opening this thread up as a place for continued discussion! As you say, there are some interesting parts of this conversation that implicate the affordances of platform (a rich area of discussion for this group, particularly). And, tagging is a great tool to help navigate and co-locate these conversations; one I'd be happy to make use of here. However, I'm not sure that either of these really touches on the spirit of what I was responding to in support of @tonia_sutherland’s original observations about what it means to have to “choose” where and how to locate critical code discussions specifically impacting Black women in our threads. I took her observation as a call to critically reflect on how race and gender (and sexuality and class) are constructed through scholarly discourse in our own conversations, through organization and categorization, through the framing of research questions in code studies, through scholarly discourse, and through what are seen as possible interventions into code, etc. 

    So yes, we can certainly talk about gender in the race thread, and discuss race in the gender thread! However, I think it is worthwhile (imperative even!) to simultaneously examine how common framings and organization of topics around race and gender (and sexuality and class) tend to reinforce these as mutually exclusive categories, obscure or privilege particular identities, reinforce power structures, or naturalize assumptions of identity. For example, I have been personally pondering how framing topics as “power and code” or “identity and code” might allow for more fluidity and intersection of topics. What about the discursive moves of discussing “race and code” versus “whiteness and code”? And, how might a reorganization (or recasting) of these topics lead to new ways to understand the structures that we are trying to intervene in? It seems to me that these kinds of questions are ideally suited to a critical code studies working group!

  • Thank you, @mirsweeen, for articulating much of what I wanted to discuss in this thread and thank you, @jeremydouglass, for opening the thread for deeper discussion. Beyond the troubling erasure in @markcmarino’s post, I want to share some thoughts on the notions of lenses and perspectives expressed here.

    @markcmarino said:

    But at the same time, sometimes we need to try a particular lens in order to see something more clearly. That's what I'm learning from Black Code Studies. It's not that we forget about the other perspectives, but that examining an object of study through one lens for a discrete period of time can reveal what a holistic approach might obscure. That said, it might also obscure other observations that an intersectional approach can.

    I think it goes against what this group is trying to accomplish to double down on the language of oppression in reasserting the necessity of a given lens or perspective. What I am resisting in my note about dividing race and gender for the purpose of critical discourse is the lens or perspective that believes these two things could ever be separable for Black, Indigenous, and other women/femmes of color. It is not possible for me to peer through the lens of gender without the intersecting perspective of race and vice versa. The point for me, here, is not that things can fit under two categories, or that we can have intersectional discussions another time, it’s about doing away with needlessly exclusive old ways of thinking. Which is to say that thinking we can do what needs to be done in critiquing the underlying assumptions of code under the existing categories is exactly the privilege—and exactly the problem—that needs to be dismantled.

  • edited January 20

    @tania_sutherland I welcome your critique of my erasure, my approach, and my perspective, and in no means intend to oppress.

    Can you illustrate your point by demonstrating your vision of what code critiques could and should look like into the code critique threads we have started in the forum? Help us do Critical Code Studies better. Show us what looking at code from this point of view yields.

    We have several main threads where we can use your help, but our principal one is:
    Week 1: COLOSSUS and LUMINARY: The Apollo 11 Guidance Computer (AGC) Code

    We also have:
    Code and computer's creativity? hmmm...

    Code Critique: FLOW-MATIC

    Code Critique: Axes by Margaret Hamilton

  • edited January 20

    @mirsween -- I really like the idea of "power and code" as a lens / organizing topic! There is a long history and a pattern of dividing e.g. black feminisms in twain that I certainly hope the working group won't mindlessly replicate. One advantage that I see to the asynchronous, simultaneous, long-running online workshop format is that there is absolutely no structural reason the group must ask participants to choose which session to attend, or which "room" to be in. Co-presence, co-attention, and even the label(s) and title(s) we appear under can be multiple, diffuse, or even changing. If the working group plan is asking participants which headline to appear under in ways that are counterproductive to what they want to express, then that certainly isn't out of necessity or scarcity (it isn't like we don't have enough "time slots", or enough "rooms") -- so let's fix it.

    @tonia_sutherland -- I would love to hear if there is a consensus that explicitly organizing around a topic like "race and code" or "Black Code Studies" is a needlessly exclusive old way of thinking. I am surprised -- I had thought these headings as such were topics deserving of even more attention -- but that is why I'm asking and listening, because I also would not be too surprised to discover I need to update my thinking. I am also trying to understand how the Working Group call and schedule could do better through looking to good models. For example, the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies does not mention words like gender, sexuality, or fem* anywhere on its homepage, or on its about page, and yet from the first I simply assume that the Center would not be overtly dividing race and gender for the purpose of critical discourse merely through its initial acts of naming and invocation! Yet my initial assumption did not occur in a vacuum, leading me to wonder how the CCS Working Group might send better signals such that it felt presumptively inclusive -- and/or if anyone could suggest even better institutional models to emulate.

    I wonder if there could be a yes-and approach, which can feature and celebrate conversations about race that could contain and/or be accompanied by broader or cross-cutting conversations -- not intersections, but their own, separate rubrics -- without these different approaches needing to be in competition with each other or seen as violently excluding each other. Given that the call and program is well under way, one place to start might be a top-level discussion discussion area on "power" during this forum, and similar formations in future calls? I also don't want to dismiss the idea that current organizing speakers (e.g. for the upcoming Week 3) might want to retitle their week if invited to do so. (However, the workshop organizers certainly should not retitle it for them by fiat!) Finally, a much later consideration, not helpful now: next time, any feedback on the next open call during the call period (so that it could be updated) would also be welcome.

    Ultimately, I believe the Working Group should be responsive to itself as an evolving community. Whatever rubrics are productive for the community members and are rallying points for discussion leaders are the ones we should be moving towards, because the goal is to serve the unfolding conversation, not inhibit it.

    How can we make it better together? If there are ways, I want to help and be part of that.

  • edited January 20

    Black code studies does not mean Black race code studies but it refers "to the growing influence of national security agencies, and the expanding network of contractors and companies with whom they work" says the Canadian writer Ronald J. Deibert in his book: Black Code:Surveillance, Privacy and the Dark Side of the Internet published 2013 by Penguin. He did not point out that Black code to refer as Black African programming but it is a top secret intelligence programming system that monitors all the digital happenings in world. It is expedient that we must limit our discussion to thus "African Code Studies".

  • edited January 20

    @Waliya -- thank you for this comment. I was not aware that Deibert had used the phrase "Black Code" in the way that Stallman referred to "black hat hackers" -- that is very interesting.

    One potential confusion may partly be about how technical communities already use the word "black." Another confusion might be the different ways the word "black" might make sense in a Nigerian vs. a United States context. For example, my own University of California, Santa Barbara has a Department of Black Studies which is focused on African-American, African, and transnational African diaspora scholarship, with a primary emphasis on the United States: "Black Studies is a distinctly innovative discipline that focuses on people of African descent whether they live in Africa, in the Caribbean, or in North or South America."

    It might be interesting to ask our Week 3 speakers why they chose "Black Code" specifically as a name for the name for their special journal issue, university courses, et cetera:

    P.S. In the U.S. there is yet another historical meaning that could be a point of confusion (or productive comparison): The "Black Codes" were laws, specifically racist laws, primarily passed by Southern states ~1865 just after the U.S. Civil War to restrict the freedoms of African Americans, especially former slaves.

  • edited January 20

    Then this "Black Code should be changed to African code Studies" so that it will not be reminding us Africans of slave trade. This term should be forfeited to Deibert because he coined it since 2003: See this his paper Ronald J. Deibert, “Black Code: Censorship, Surveillance, and Militarization of Cyberspace,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 32, no. 3 (2003)

  • Which is to say that thinking we can do what needs to be done in critiquing the underlying assumptions of code under the existing categories is exactly the privilege—and exactly the problem—that needs to be dismantled.

    I really love this, @tonia_sutherland. I think you and @mirsween raise issues that are imperative not just to CCS but to conversations about identity in general and how academia, governmental institutions, etc, often see issues of gender as unraced. I agree with @mirsween that a more effective topic in the future would be the intersection of "identity and code" or "power and code," so as to account for all of the aspects of identity that inform how an individual interacts with, is liberated by, or is oppressed by digital culture.

    I've always resented that discussions of race and gender so often still perform an othering, marking women, gender nonconforming folx, and POC as the subjects of those discussions or as the presumed audience for those discussions instead of addressing more explicitly whiteness or masculinity as structuring forces behind all that we're trying to dismantle. Even this feels like I'm still participating in these categorizations. Language is a monster sometimes.

    I think part of the problem we might be having here is exactly what @jeremydouglass mentioned about this platform insisting on "divid[ing] and partition[ing] discourses into spaces." Which is SO ripe for critique in this particular setting, so I'm glad this conversation got us there. But of course the other problem is that ppl are still employing technologies of oppression in conversations about identity. @markcmarino, I think the idea of discrete lenses in your comment felt troublesome for this reason. The assumption that there is a set of lenses and that we can/should/might only use one at a time. But the beauty of this space is that we can do away with the lenses that have historically kept us down/apart/disenfranchised and build our own frameworks, I hope.

    I'd love to talk more about alternative ways to have these conversations that don't presume any aspect of our identities are inextricable from each other. Maybe framing conversations with regard to specific issues instead of in regard to any one identity marker? Like, what if we had a week on Black Women's Safety? Or a week on Surveillance? Or a week on Communities? Or on Dismantling Whiteness in Code?

    Thank you for starting this conversation, @tonia_sutherland. I really appreciate your perspective and your voice.

  • @mirsween said:

    For example, I have been personally pondering how framing topics as “power and code” or “identity and code” might allow for more fluidity and intersection of topics. What about the discursive moves of discussing “race and code” versus “whiteness and code”?

    I think this points to a larger stickiness. If we reframe as power/identity, the risk is of not foregrounding race or gender at all; if we reframe as whiteness/masculinity to not let the unmarked category stay unmarked, the risk is recentering majoritarians again. Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do any of those things, but that it requires a lot of precision in what we mean when we do.

  • @alirachelpearl said:

    @markcmarino, I think the idea of discrete lenses in your comment felt troublesome for this reason. The assumption that there is a set of lenses and that we can/should/might only use one at a time. But the beauty of this space is that we can do away with the lenses that have historically kept us down/apart/disenfranchised and build our own frameworks, I hope.

    I think that the challenge people are having with @markcmarino's framing is the idea that these are only lenses, which they can be (we can debate should) if you do not have the experience of being minoritized on the basis of that category, but when it's your experience it potentially feels dismissive of that experience to frame it as merely an intellectual apparatus. That seems to be the impasse in this branch of the conversation.

  • edited January 23

    I am not sure that I called these "only lenses," although I see how that can be inferred from my comment. But I also see your point that it could potentially feel dismissive to frame a person's gender as "merely an intellectual apparatus."

    However, I agree most with you here:

    If we reframe as power/identity, the risk is of not foregrounding race or gender at all; if we reframe as whiteness/masculinity to not let the unmarked category stay unmarked, the risk is recentering majoritarians again. Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do any of those things, but that it requires a lot of precision in what we mean when we do.

    In my experience, when we say, let's talk about code and x, social identity factors tend to recede behind discussions of abstract, technology and a kind of history that emphasizes the empirical over the social (which ultimately does end up recentering the majoritarians). However, when we say, let us emphasize one or more social aspects of the discussion, as we have attempted to do in CCSWG, especially as led by people who have lived marginalized positions of that dimension of identity, we get somewhere else. Again, I am learning from you how such emphasis may anatomize identity and obscure the always overlapping and intertwined nature of these dimensions in a way that does violence to a holistic perspective as well as lived experience.

    I am not quite sure why you are framing our current discussion as at an "impasse." Rather, I am wondering with @alirachelpearl, Are there "ways to have these conversations that don't presume any aspect of our identities are inextricable from each other" ?

    But without putting anyone on the spot or asking them to operationalize their identity position or their position on identity, I would encourage all on this thread to go into the code critique threads and the main weekly threads and to show how the vital ideas being discussed on this thread impact the analyses that make up readings of code. I do not minimize the need for the higher level discussions, but in the short weeks of the Working Group, reading AND writing code is where theory becomes praxis.

  • @melstanfill yes, all of what you're saying feels exactly right. Thank you.

Sign In or Register to comment.