Surrogate Humanity

Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures

Surrogate Humanity

Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe

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Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 30 illustrations Published: March 2019

Critical Ethnic Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Science and Technology Studies > Feminist Science Studies

In Surrogate Humanity Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora trace the ways in which robots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies serve as surrogates for human workers within a labor system entrenched in racial capitalism and patriarchy. Analyzing myriad technologies, from sex robots and military drones to sharing-economy platforms, Atanasoski and Vora show how liberal structures of antiblackness, settler colonialism, and patriarchy are fundamental to human---machine interactions, as well as the very definition of the human. While these new technologies and engineering projects promise a revolutionary new future, they replicate and reinforce racialized and gendered ideas about devalued work, exploitation, dispossession, and capitalist accumulation. Yet, even as engineers design robots to be more perfect versions of the human—more rational killers, more efficient workers, and tireless companions—the potential exists to develop alternative modes of engineering and technological development in ways that refuse the racial and colonial logics that maintain social hierarchies and inequality.


Surrogate Humanity is a stunning, original analysis of the fantasies, surrogacies, and technologies of ‘the human’ that uphold present-day racial capitalism and empire. Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora examine ‘technoliberal’ projects that promise revolutionary liberation from labor inequality, and demonstrate their centrality to the social reproduction of the very dispossessions, differences, and exploitations they seek to transcend. An examination of the close relationship of automation, robotics, media platforms, drones, and artificial intelligence to U.S. racial logics, this is an indispensable book for feminist studies of science and technology, race and colonialism, and critiques of liberalism.” — Lisa Lowe, author of The Intimacies of Four Continents

“With clarity and force, Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora intervene into the formulations of human---machine interaction by tracking how race, colonialism, and patriarchy are woven into the fabric of robots, thereby bringing urgent scholarship on antiblackness, settler colonialism, and the racial structures of labor into the center of technoscience. The world needs this superb book!” — Michelle Murphy, author of The Economization of Life


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Neda Atanasoski is Professor of Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of Humanitarian Violence: The U.S. Deployment of Diversity.

Kalindi Vora is Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of California, Davis, and author of Life Support: Biocapital and the New History of Outsourced Labor.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction: The Surrogate Human Effects of Technoliberalism  1
1. Technoliberalism and Automation: Racial Imaginaries of a Postlabor World  27
2. Sharing, Collaboration, and the Commons in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Appropriative Techniques of Technoliberal Capitalism  54
3. Automation and the Invisible Service Function: Toward an "Artificial Artificial Intelligence"  87
4. The Surrogate Human Affect: The Racial Programming of Robot Emotion  108
5. Machine Autonomy and the Unmanned Spacetime of Technoliberal Warfare  134
6. Killer Robots: Feeling Human in the Field of War  163
Epilogue: On Technoliberal Desire, Or Why There Is No Such Thing as a Feminist A1  188
Notes  197
Bibliography  225
Index  233
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0386-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0317-5
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