hacking gender, hacking technology

seminar | summer term 2019 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

boka en & andrea* ida malkah klaura


This page shows the concept for our seminar. With this concept we applied at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt. Our teaching design is process oriented. Allthough this concept will stay here for documentation, the actual course might develop differently. We also did another version of this seminar at the academy of fine arts vienna in winter term 2017/18.

The whole documentation of the course can be found in the course wiki. This includes information on course dates, session topics, deliverables and grading. More information regarding registration will be available on the AAU lecture protal.



As science and technoscience play ever more important roles in our lives, it has also become clear that they are a predominantly white and androcentric endeavour. In the 1990s, at the dawn of the web, cyberfeminist utopias arose – visions of a world where gender and other categorisations evaporated into a seamless web of anti-identitarian dust. Today, about 20 years after the emergence of these utopias, technoscience is still dominated by white androcentrism.

What happened to opportunities of changing gender and technology with and through each other? Where are the cyberfeminist hackers? Why does technology resist social change? Or is it the other way around? Where are leverage points for technofeminist interventions into technology and gender? Can we really hack gender the way technology is hacked? And can we hack technology to hack gender? This course seeks to address these and other questions, explicitly trying to bridge the gap between natural sciences and technologies, reflective design practices as developed in social sciences & humanities, and arts and participatory design. Through this approach, we seek to enable productive inter- and trans(*)disciplinary conversations, and to empower students by linking academic insights and perspectives to applications and experiences.

The topics we will cover in this course include:

  1. An introduction to technology and society, technology and gender: How do technology and society interact? How can technology be political? Can these political qualities be resisted/subverted?
  2. Biomedical technologies and expertise: Is expertise gendered? How can biomedical technologies (e.g. reproductive technologies) function as pathways through which expert power is exerted? How have feminist and queer movements resisted these connections?
  3. Gendered inscriptions into technological infrastructures: How are gendered and other norms inscribed into technological infrastructures, e.g. social networks, student databases at universities, and gendered algorithms in self-tracking apps?
  4. Surveillance technologies: How do surveillance technologies and axes of domination-oppression such as (trans-)gender, sexuality and race intersect?
  5. Participatory/emancipatory design: How can technology be part of emancipatory efforts? How can design not only help to make emancipatory technologies, but also to hack existing technologies towards emancipatory goals?
  6. Further topics and student interests: the content of this session will be decided with the students. Possible topics include: cyborgism; feminist science-fiction and utopian visions; video games and gender.

Because of the intended trans*disciplinary character of the course, no prior knowledge is required.



Students develop a critical understanding of how technology and societal power relations, particularly in regards to gender, are entwined. They reflect on and develop ways of addressing and subverting these through engaging with each other in an inter- and trans(*)disciplinary context. Learning hands-on skills to actively intervene in technology production and consumption, they are encouraged to use those skills in follow-up projects.



The course is strongly grounded in participatory approaches such as Paulo Freire’s ‘Paedagogy of the Oppressed’, Black (queer) feminist participatory approaches to teaching and learning (e.g. those of bell hooks), and Participatory Action Research as well as Participatory Design. A central question that we want students to ask in relation to all coursework is why? – in relation to unpacking arguments, to the valuation of some (sources of) knowledge over others, and to the reason for their own involvement with the materials/topics. In line with our overall approach to teaching and learning, we supplement more conventional teaching methods (such as reading and discussing academic texts) with interactive and workshop-like activities. The course furthermore includes practical sessions, in which students will be encouraged to find their own approach to hacking and to apply it to some technoscientific artefact. These experiments should foster the students’ understanding of technological concepts and how different social categories become embedded on a technological level – and therefore also how these technologies can be changed towards more inclusive and responsible ways of acting within our society.



Below is a list of relevant academic literature that the course is based on. Entries marked with an asterisk (*), or extracts from them, are core reading. Additionally, these academic texts will be engaged in connection with non- academic materials that are not included in this list.

Allhutter, Doris. (2011). Mind Scripting: A Method for Deconstructive Design. Science, Technology&Human Values, 37(6), 684–707.

Åsberg, Cecilia, and Lykke, Nina. 2010. Feminist technoscience studies. European Journal of Women's Studies, 17 (4): 299–305.

Asdal, Kristin, Brenna, Brita,&Moser, Ingunn (Eds.). (2007). Technoscience – The Politics of Interventions. Oslo: Unipub.

Barad, Karen. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham&London: Duke University Press.

Bath, Corinna. (2006). Overcoming the Socio-Technical Divide: A Long-Term Source of Hope in Feminist Studies of Computer Science. tripleC – Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation, 4(2), 303–14. http://www.triple – c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/48.

* Boston Women's Health Collective. 1970. Women and Their Bodies.

* Cheney-Lippold, John. (2011). A New Algorithmic Identity: Soft Biopolitics and the Modulation of Control. Theory, Culture&Society, 28(6), 164–181.

* Currah, Paisley,&Mulqueen, Tara. (2011). Securitizing gender: Identity, biometrics, and transgender bodies at the airport. social research, 78(2), 557-582.

Donovan, Catherine. (2000). Who Needs a Father? Negotiating Biological Fatherhood in British Lesbian Families Using Self-Insemination. Sexualities, 3(2), 149–164.

Epstein, Steven. (1995). The Construction of Lay Expertise: AIDS Activism and the Forging of Credibility in the Reform of Clinical Trials. Science, Technology&Human Values, 20(4), 408–437

Epstein, Steven. (1996). Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Erol, M. (2014). From opportunity to obligation: Medicalization of post-menopausal sexuality in Turkey. Sexualities, 17(1–2), 43–62.

Faulkner, Wendy. (2001). The Technology Question in Feminism: A View from Feminist Technology Studies. Women’s Studies International Forum, 24(1), 79–95.

Fraser, Nancy. 1990. Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, 25/26, 56–80.

Fujimura, Joan H,&Rajagopalan, Ramya. (2011). Different differences: the use of “genetic ancestry” versus race in biomedical human genetic research. Social Studies of Science, 41(1), 5–30.

Gansmo, Helen Jøsok, Vivian A. Lagesen, and Knut H. Sørensen. (2003). Forget the Hacker? A Critical Re- Appraisal of Norwegian Studies of Gender and ICT. He, She and IT Revisited: New Perspectives on Gender in the Information Society. Merete Lie (Ed.). 34–68. Gyldendal.

Hacking, Ian. (1986). Making up People. In T. C. Heller, M. Sosna,&D. E. Wellbery (Eds.), Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought (pp. 222–236). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hacking, Ian. (2007). Kinds of People: Moving Targets. Proceedings of the British Academy, 151, 285–318.

Hamraie, Aimi. (2013). Designing Collective Access: A Feminist Disability Theory of Universal Design. Disability Studies Quarterly, 33(4), 1–29.

Haraway, Donna. (1991). Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Association Books.

Haraway, Donna. (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse TM . London and New York: Routledge.

* Hasson, Katie Ann. (2012). Making appropriation “stick”: Stabilizing politics in an “inherently feminist” tool. Social Studies of Science, 42(5), 638–661.

Inhorn, Marcia Claire. (Ed.). (2007). Reproductive disruptions: Gender, technology, and biopolitics in the new millennium (Vol. 11). Berghahn books.

Kleif, Tine, and Wendy Faulkner. (2003). ‘I’m No Athlete [but] I Can Make This Thing Dance!’ Men’s Pleasures in Technology. Science, Technology,&Human Values, 28 (2), 296–325.

Kowal, Emma, Hinterberger, Amy,&Radin, Joanna. (Eds.) (2013). Indigenous Body Parts and Postcolonial Technoscience. Special Issue of Social Studies of Science.

Lagesen, Vivian Anette. (2008). A Cyberfeminist Utopia?: Perceptions of Gender and Computer Science among Malaysian Women Computer Science Students and Faculty. Science Technology Human Values, 33 (1), 5–27.

Law, John,&Singleton, Vicky. (2000). Performing Technology’s Stories: On Social Constructivism, Performance, and Performativity. Technology and Culture, 41(4), 765–775.

Lengwiler, Martin. (2008). Participatory Approaches in Science and Technology. Science, Technology,&Human Values, 33(2), 186–200.

Lupton, Deborah. (2012). M-health and health promotion: The digital cyborg and surveillance society. Social Theory&Health, 10(3), 229–244. doi:10.1057/sth.2012.6

* Lupton, Deborah. (2014). Quantified sex: a critical analysis of sexual and reproductive self-tracking using apps. Culture, Health&Sexuality, (June), 1–14.

Lupton, Deborah. (2014). Critical Perspectives on Digital Health Technologies. Sociology Compass, 8(12), 1344–1359.

Margolis, Jane, and Allan Fisher. (2002). Unlocking the Clubhouse. Women in Computing. Cambridge/London: The MIT Press.

M’charek, Amade, Katharina Schramm, and David Skinner (Eds.).. (2014). ‘Technologies of Belonging.’ Special Issue of Science, Technology&Human Values, 39 (4).

McInerney, Paul-Brian. (2009). Technology Movements and the Politics of Free/Open Source Software. Science, Technology&Human Values, 34(2), 206–33.

Murphy, Michelle. 2012. Seizing the means of reproduction: Entanglements of feminism, health, and technoscience. Duke University Press.

Nafus, Dawn, James Leach, and Bernhard Krieger. (2006). Gender: Integrated Report of Findings. Deliverable D16. Free/Libre and Open Source Software: Policy Support. Cambridge. http://flosspols.org/deliverables.php. O’Riordan, Kate. (2011). Revisiting digital technologies: Envisioning biodigital bodies. Communications, 36(2011), 291–312.

Oudshoorn, Nelly. (2003). The Male Pill: A Biography of a Technology in the Making. Durham: Duke University Press.

Preciado, Beatriz. (2013). Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. New York: The Feminist Press.

Sefyrin, Johanna. (2010). Entanglements of Participation, Gender, Power and Knowledge in IT Design. Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Participatory Design Conference, 111–120. PDC ’10. New York, NY, USA: ACM.

Simon, Judith. (2015). Distributed Epistemic Responsibility in a Hyperconnected Era. The Onlife Manifesto.

Luciano Floridi (Ed.), 145–59. Springer International Publishing.

* Simonsen, Jesper, and Toni Robertson (Eds). (2013). Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design. Routledge.

Star, Susan Leigh. (2007). Power, Technology and the Phenomenology of Conventions: On Being Allergic to Onions. Technoscience: The Politics of Interventions, 38(S1), 26–57.

Stepulevage, Linda. (2001). Becoming a Technologist: Days in a Girl’s Life. Virtual Gender. Technology, Consumption and Identity. Eileen Green and Alison Adam (Eds.). 63–83. Routledge, London.

Stimpson, Catharine R. (2000). On Being Transminded. Signs, 25(4), 1007–11.

Suman, Seth (Ed.). (2009). ‘Science, colonialism, postcolonialism’. Special Issue of Postcolonialism, Vol. 12, Issue 4.

Thompson, Charis. (2005). Making parents: The ontological choreography of reproductive technologies. MIT press.

* van der Velden, Maja,&Mörtberg, Christina. (2011). Between Need and Desire: Exploring Strategies for Gendering Design. Science, Technology&Human Values, 37(6), 663–683.

Waites, Matthew. The fixity of sexual identities in the public sphere: Biomedical knowledge, liberalism and the heterosexual/homosexual binary in late modernity. Sexualities, 8 (5), 539–569.

* Wagner, Ina, Maria Basile, Lisa Ehrenstrasser, Valérie Maquil, Jean-Jacques Terrin, and Mira Wagner. (2009). Supporting Community Engagement in the City: Urban Planning in the MR-Tent. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Communities and Technologies, 185–194. New York, NY, USA: ACM.

Wajcman, Judy. 2004. TechnoFeminism. Cambridge: Polity.

Wajcman, Judy. (2009). Feminist theories of technology. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1), 143–152.

Winner, Langdon. (1980). Do Artifacts Have Politics? Daedalus, 109(1), 121–136.

Wyatt, Sally. (2003). Non-Users Also Matter: The Construction of Users and Non-Users of the Internet. How Users Matter. The Co-Construction of Users and Technology. Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch (Eds.). 67–79. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Ziewitz, Malte. (Ed.). (2016). Governing Algorithms. Special Issue of Science, Technology,&Human Values.