Captivating Technology

Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: 44 illustrations Published: June 2019

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Cultural Studies > Surveillance Studies, Science and Technology Studies

From electronic ankle monitors and predictive-policing algorithms to workplace surveillance systems, technologies originally developed for policing and prisons have rapidly expanded into nonjuridical domains, including hospitals, schools, banking, social services, shopping malls, and digital life. Rooted in the logics of racial disparity and subjugation, these purportedly unbiased technologies not only extend prison spaces into the public sphere but also deepen racial hierarchies and engender new systems for social control. The contributors to Captivating Technology examine how carceral technologies are being deployed to classify and coerce specific populations and whether these innovations can be resisted and reimagined for more liberatory ends. Moving from traditional sites of imprisonment to the arenas of everyday life being reshaped by carceral technoscience, this volume culminates in a sustained focus on justice-oriented approaches to science and technology that blends historical, speculative, and biographical methods to envision new futures made possible.

Contributors. Ruha Benjamin, Troy Duster, Ron Eglash, Nettrice Gaskins, Anthony Ryan Hatch, Andrea Miller, Alondra Nelson, Tamara K. Nopper, Christopher Perreira, Winifred R. Poster, Dorothy E. Roberts, Lorna Roth, Britt Rusert, R. Joshua Scannell, Mitali Thakor, Madison Van Oort


"Captivating Technology provides abundant evidence. . . showing how discriminatory biases lead to incarceration, surveillance and oppression through technology, and then sets out to prove that the only way towards a non-discriminatory society must acknowledge such biases of technology in order to develop anti-racist, truly liberatory technologies." — Valentina Romanzi, Iperstoria

"The book comes at a timely moment, contributing to pressing contemporary conversations about predictive algorithms, bias in AI, new modes of surveillance, and the myriad ways our increasingly technologically mediated lives are experienced unequally along lines of race, class, and gender. . . . Captivating Technology offers a meaningful contribution to public and scholarly discussions of technological (in)justice." — Naomi Zucker, Somatosphere

"Benjamin presents a rich and original contribution to critical studies of race and technoscience." — Clara Hick, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Captivating Technology brings together a range of incisive analyses that reveal the various ways contemporary technologies renew, deepen, and extend carceral conditions across society and how the carceral complex fuels technological developments with broader social implications. The collected volume importantly offers a range of examples of social technologies for liberatory ends. Ruha Benjamin has brought together a terrifically creative, insightful, and necessary group of compelling accounts. A much needed antidote for troubled times.” — David Theo Goldberg, author of Are We All Postracial Yet?

Captivating Technology exemplifies that rare but exquisite quality that makes an edited collection worthwhile: unfailingly strong individual contributions that are brought together in a way that makes a distinctive and insightful intervention. Combining nuanced understandings of the power of science and technology together with critical race critique, this timely volume is poised to set the agenda for the field.” — Anne Pollock, author of Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ruha Benjamin is Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and the author of People's Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Troy Duster  xi
Acknowledgments / Ruha Benjamin  xv
Part I. Carceral Techniques from Plantation to Prison
1. Naturalizing Coercion: The Tuskegee Experiments and the Laboratory Life of the Plantation / Britt Rusert  25
2. Consumed by Disease: Medical Archives, Latino Fictions, and Carceral Health Imaginaries / Christopher Perreira  50
3. Billions Served: Prison Food Regimes, Nutritional Punishment, and Gastronomical Resistance / Anthony Ryan Hatch  67
4. Shadows of War, Traces of Policing: The Weaponization of Space and the Sensible Preemption / Andrea Miller  85
5. This Is Not Minority Report: Predictive Policing and Population Racism / R. Joshua Scannell  107
Part II. Surveillance Systems from Facebook to Fast Fashion
6. Racialized Surveillance in the Digital Service Economy / Winifred Poster  133
7. Digital Character in "The Scored Society": FICO, Social Networks, and the Competing Measurements of Creditworthimess / Tamara K. Nopper  170
8. Deception by Design: Digital Skin, Racial Matter, and the New Policing of Child Sexual Exploitation / Mitali Thakor  188
9. Employing the Carceral Imaginary: An Ethnography of Worker Surveillance in the Retail Industry / Madison Van Oort  209
Part III. Retooling Liberation from Abolitionists to Afrofuturists
10. Anti-Racist Technoscience: A Generative Tradition / Ron Eglash  227
11. Techo-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation across the African Diaspora and Global South / Nettrice R. Gaskins  252
12. Making Skin Visible through Liberatory Design / Lorna Roth  275
13. Scratch a Theory, You Find a Biography: A Conversation with Troy Duster  308
14. Reimagining Race, Resistance, and Technoscience: A Conversation with Dorothy Roberts  328
Bibliography  349
Contributors  389
Index  393
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0381-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0323-6
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