Accepted Paper:

Not Even There: Understanding early Automation Scares through FTS approaches   

Author:

Caroline Bassett (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

The obliteration of feminist perspectives in early debates on cybernation/ automation render them unlikely sites of feminist analysis. But using FTS methodologies tension around technological transition is related to human divisions - and their supposed surpassing through the advent of automation.

Paper long abstract:

A gathering of 'experts' where no feminists were on the panel, where women's expertise in living 'leisured lives' post-work, was derided by many, and set aside as irrelevant to the burning issue of politics and the post work society by a leading (female) philosopher, looks like an unpropitious site for research into feminist interventions around early cybernation and automation debates. One contemporary feminist who did speak (Friedan) was 'not even there' according to the conference organizer. The point was cybernation and social justice to come. Not women and their transitional 'rights'.

Two reasons not to turn away: (i) The conference was significant - encapsulating the response of the organized left, civil rights movement, unions, nascent technological leftists, and others, to the 1960s cybernation scare. (ii) To grapple with media archeological questions arising in computational histories, forms of feminist theorizing - interventions into archaeological thinking - are crucial.

Here feminist technoscientific analysis - specifically situated positionality and inter-sectionality - is undertaken to consider the first cybercultural conference, held in New York in 1965, accessed using archived, re-found, and interview material.

The intention is to understand why the insights of women were so thoroughly expunged from the debate, to consider the distinct and overlapping treatment of race and sex/gender questions and to investigate the critical political stakes of a long-standing tension; that between (justice and) processes of technological transition and hoped for end results. I note this tension looms large in the revived automation 'scares' of today.

Panel T100
Feminist Technoscience Studies in Unexpected Places: (Intra)Activism and Social Justice