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Article: From Cyborg to Facebook: Technological dreams and feminist critiques Dead Line: 15 June 2011]‏

SOPHIA, the Belgian Bi-community Network for Gender Studies is
organizing a colloquium to investigate the latest developments in
theory and research on the many aspects of gender and technology from
a Feminist angle.
Women and technology don’t sleep in the same bed. The relation between
technological possibilities and gender is tense. ‘Technology’, the use
value of science, embodies power relations. Some see technology as a
tool for liberation, others see it as a trap of enslavement.
Donna Haraway’s vision of the Cyborg (1985) was a water shed. The idea
of the thinking but bodiless human has been a subject of wide ranging
debate for feminists, theoreticians and feminist activists ever since.
The cyborg makes us question the pure boundaries of gender and the
human as opposed to the animal and the machine. What does the body
mean if we can transcend the body? Would body-linked inequalities
disappear? Today, the bodiless and sexless voice is a reality thanks
to the communicative but commercialized possibilities of social media.
In Facebook people create their own (gender) identities. In the web
world of games and interaction, the cyborg can be a reality.
From a feminist perspective there has always been a love-hate
relationship between technology and feminist projects. Technology
seems to promise liberation from the confines of the corporal and the
duties of the everyday. The female body is often the basis of
inequality (bearing children, weak, and marked). Technology offers
freedom from reproduction, controlled reproduction, strength and
transformation. But at what price comes a cyborg liberation of the
mind from the body? While the debate is not new, ongoing technological
advances pose new issues. Technology ‘frees’ us from our sexed bodies
through reproductive technology, and through the faceless
communication of the internet. Yet at the same time it enslaves us in
an ever more incomprehensible net of global relations and consumer
requirements. You can’t leave home without your mobile, but you don’t
know how to fix it.Technology empowers, but excludes.
Sophia's colloquium welcomes papers on the relations between gender
and technologies from both theoretical and empirical standpoints and
will focus on the following themes:
1. Feminist visions on science and technology The state of the art in
thinking about the role of science and technology in gender relations,
global relations and the shape of feminist goals for the future.
2. The enhanced body after Haraway’s Cyborg? Thanks to the development
of biotechnologies, the ‘cyborg’ is no longer science-fiction but a
clinical reality. The question of enhancement is one of the most acute
in feminist bioethics. It is oriented towards a negation of the so
called ‘natural body’ and towards a Transhumanist overcoming of human
vulnerabilities, linked to biological determination.What are the
critical perspectives from a gender point of view? Can they be
articutlated in the perspective of political care?
3. Biology, bodies, technology and the nature-nurture debate Does
technology let us go beyond men and women? Does technology erase
borders between the sexes or strengthen them? This theme aims to
explore the role of technology and science in the debate about nature
and nurture and the differences between men and women as well as
in-between, considering the issues of trans- and inter-sexuality.
Particularly interesting for this theme are the implications of data
obtained by high tech methods including brain differences and genetic
codes for arguments about the biological origins of gender relations.
Bodily transformations and reparations, new gender identities,
extended reproduction capacities, are all available, but raise many
issues for research, feminist ethics and policy. Who decides about
reproductive and medical technologies and for whom are they developed?

4. Technology and gender in everyday life Communication,
transportation, care, cooking, cleaning, and housework have all been
changed by new technologies such as the microwave, GSM, and internet.
Technology is now an intimate part of everyday life in households and
interlaces with the workplace. Has this produced more gender equality
and new gender relationships in terms of paid and unpaid care and
work? Does the extended technological everyday potential of the rich
world lead to gender liberation globally or increasing inequality. How
does the increased impact on expectations? Do the developments provide
more gender?
5.Communication, technology and gender: (New) media and gender What is
the gender landscape of Facebook, Wikipedia, blogging and other
participatory new social network media? While the cyborg was a
theoretical idea, the social media are primarily a commercialized
bodiless potential. What do gender scholars make of the alleged
democratization of visual media through YouTube and other
participatory media? How gendered are video games and the online games
and what are their implications for gender relations?
6. Technology and the expression of Gender in culture The cyborg is no
longer fiction. Film, art, literature, music and culture go ‘beyond
gender’ as technology creates increasingly ‘real’ gender blends in
film with Avatars, Arthur and minimoyss, in strips and games that
over-sex their figures. Technology and thinking about the potential of
technology has changed gender relations in music, literature, film,
popular and media culture, and art production and distribution. Papers
in this section examine the latest developments.
7. Technology and gendered power Does technology keep women out of
power? What do the heteronormative technological developments mean for
gender relations world-wide? To what extent are the continued lack of
skills in the technology a contributing cause to the under
representation of women in management, the economy; and global
economic governance? How does the absence of women contribute to the
choices of what technologies are developed? What is the role of high
technologies in creating and maintaining new forms of gender
inequality?What impact do scientific women have on technological
choices and what new technologies come from women? The range of
contributions for this subject is wide.
8. Technology policy and the academy What impact has the policy to
increase women in science had? Do different gender relations in
laboratories change technological research decisions? What is the role
of educational approaches in changing the position of women in the
hard sciences and the decisions made in science policy? European
policy aims to increase the presence of women in science. What
difference would this make?
9. Technology, heteronormativity and the erotic What about the erotic
fascination of technological toys for technosexuals? To what extent is
the heteronormativity in technology responsible for choices men make
in research topics and technologies that get developed or not (fast
cars but no good vacuum cleaner, phallically formed rockets)? What is
the role of new media and new social media in expanding (violent)
sexual repertoires?
Scientific board: Mylene Baum-Botbol (UCL), Sander De Ridder (CIMS,
UGhent), Nathalie Grandjean (FUNDP), Stéphanie Loriaux (ULB/Sophia),
Marta Roca I Escoda (Université Autonome de Barcelone/ ULB), Sarah
Sepulchre (UCL/Sophia), Femke Snelting (constant vzw), Patricia
Vendramin (FUNDP/Fondation Travail-Université), Alison Woodward
Abstracts of 300 words with an indication of the choice of theme
section should be sent to for the 15th of June 2011.
They should include name(s) of author, affiliation (university or
organisation) and contact information (e-mail, phone, post adress).
Abstracts may be submitted in English, French or Dutch.
All questions can be addressed to Telephone contacts
during office hours at 0032 (0)2 229 38 69.