Nicole Shephard speaking engeagments

2018

“Ich hab’ doch nichts zu verbergen” – Feministische Perspektiven auf Überwachung

[“Nothing to hide” – Feminist Perspectives on Surveillance]

Digital Lunch talk organised by Heinrich Böll Foundation

Abstract

“Nothing to hide” bzw. „Ich habe nichts zu verbergen“ ist eine häufige Replik auf die Kritik an der zunehmenden staatlichen und privatwirtschaftlichen Überwachung. Überwachung ist nicht mehr auf das einzelne Individuum gerichtet, sondern erfasst großflächig alle und zwar ohne Verdachtsmoment. Trotzdem – so legt dieser häufig zu hörende Satz nahe – fühlen wir uns nicht betroffen, eingeschränkt oder eingeschüchtert. Haben wir uns in der Öffentlichkeit der digitalen Kultur eingerichtet? Ist Privatsphäre ein veraltetes Konzept? Oder haben wir es mit der Neuverteilung von Privilegien zu tun?

Feministische Theorie, Methoden und Politik haben viel zu einem umfassenderen Verständnis von Überwachung und ihren Auswirkungen auf verschiedene Bevölkerungsgruppen beizutragen. Deshalb wollen wir fragen: Wo liegen die theoretischen und praktischen Anknüpfungspunkte? Wie kann Überwachung intersektional gedacht werden und warum ist das wichtig? Wie sieht ein feministischer Umgang mit Überwachung aus?

2018

Thinking Diversity in Tech Through Feminist Interventions

10th European Feminist Research Conference

Organised by ATGender, hosted at University of Göttingen

Abstract

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become a trending topic in the tech sector, both in terms of negative headlines and some positive change of late. Feminists are at the forefront of critiquing the continuing lack of diversity in tech as well as the sexism, racism and other -isms that still permeate the industry. Examples include calling out the under-representation of women/non-white folks/queers/disabled folks in tech, the struggle against sexual harassment at tech events/ companies, alongside convincing a male-dominated industry that diverse teams create more inclusive and less sexist/racist technology/code/data.

At the same time, Feminists are also at the forefront of critiquing the politics and discourse of diversity management in organisations, of what is at stake in talking about diversity (rather than equality or equal opportunity), what in turning social justice into a business case, and what celebrating diversity can serve to mask (racism, sexism, power relations, whiteness, privilege).

In this sense, diversity in tech figures simultaneously as a feminist objective and as an object of feminist critique and ambivalence. In an exercise of thinking two seemingly contrasting modes of feminist theory/research/activism together, this paper begins to outline diversity & inclusion practices that on the one hand take feminist critiques of diversity management on board, while, on the other, embracing diversity & inclusion as that which allows us to have necessary and urgent conversations in the sector. Can social justice arguments, ‘business case’ arguments and ‘better tech’ arguments all be good feminist arguments after all?

2018

Feministische Perspektiven auf Überwachung

[Feminist Perspectives on Surveillance]

Building a feminist Internet: Feministische Netzpolitik in der Praxis

Conference organised by Gunda Werner Institut, Heinrich Böll Stiftung

Abstract

Ob in der Wissenschaft, im Aktivismus gegen Überwachung, oder in den Medien – wo Überwachung aktuell diskutiert wird, bleiben feministische Perspektiven meist außen vor. Dabei haben feministische Theorie, Methoden und Politik viel zu einem umfassenderen Verständnis von Überwachung und ihren Auswirkungen auf verschiedene Bevölkerungsgruppen beizutragen. Wo liegen die theoretischen und praktischen Anknüpfungspunkte? Wie kann Überwachung intersektional gedacht werden und warum ist das wichtig? Wie sieht ein feministischer Umgang mit Überwachung aus? Das sind einige übergreifende Fragen, denen dieser Vortrag nachgeht.

2017

The Feminist Implications of Big Data and Privacy

#HerNetHerRights online conference organised by the European Women’s Lobby

See transcript here.

 

2015

Figuring Big Data?

Doing Justice to Figures and Figuration, Graduate Reseach Symposium

London School of Economics and Political Science

Abstract

This paper takes its departure from a) an understanding of figuration as “contaminated practice” and figurations as “performative images that can be inhabited” (Haraway 1997) and therefore shaped from within, and b) the emergence of Big Data as a socio-technical phenomenon and contentious buzzword. Simultaneously deploying figures and figurations to think about Big Data, and exploring what doing so might in turn productively do in terms of thinking it differently, the paper considers the potential for reconfiguration that figurations harbour. Thus taking its cue from Braidotti’s contention that critique needs to take place trans-disciplinarily and in tandem with creative alternative figurations, this paper suggests that doing justice to figures – Big Data as a figuration in itself, the literal figures that constitute it, as well as the subsequent figurations Big Data materialises and legitimates – requires re-configuring Big Data in different ways beyond utopian celebration and dystopian dismissal. Queer, anti-racist, and feminist critique has a crucial part to play in this process of re-configuration, and can do so by expanding critique to critical participation in Big Data practices to shift what constitutes the figuration of Big Data, how it is deployed, and how it materialises other figures.

2014

Queering as a Post-disciplinary Practice?

Tangentially Queer: A Workshop on the Field Formation of Queer Theory

University of Warwick & London School of Economics and Political Science

Abstract

This paper suggests that thinking of queering as a post-disciplinary practice is a useful methodological move towards driving a queer critique closer to the modes of knowledge production it addresses. In turn, it allows conceptualising post-disciplinarity as full of queering potential in the face of disciplinary canons and thus takes queer beyond its home turf in Queer Theory and Gender Studies.
Post-disciplinarity seeks to carve out spaces for “object-oriented” theorising instead of disciplinary dogma – spaces for thinking about the ways in which we produce knowledge across disciplines without being disciplined. While queering is on the one hand introduced here as one such example of post-disciplinary knowledge production amongst potentially many, it is also used to suggest post-disciplinary ways of infusing queer theory into mainstreams outside of gender studies beyond the gestural “as queer/feminist scholars have argued…” or the token reference to Judith Butler. Queering, understood as a post-disciplinary practice, thus not only intervenes in the disciplinary knowledges queer critiques habitually address, but equally interrogates the institutionalisation of queer fields of study.

2013

Beyond Transnationality: A Queer Intersectional Approach to Transnational Subjects

Graduate Symposium: New Pathways in Gender Research

London School of Economics and Political Science

Abstract

Scholarship on transnational migration has focused on defining and delimiting transnationalism as phenomenon and field of study, on the economic and political implications of transnational migration for states, and on the impact of bifocal transnationality on migrants’ practices. Less attention has been paid to subject formation within transnational spaces. Shifting the focus to the spaces in which transnationality takes place, rather than normatively defined ethnic and national communities, allows for exploring heterogeneity in terms of multiple experiences and practices within. Such an approach allows for taking the complex interplay of spatiality, historicity and shifting identifications based on embodied practices and discourses around gender, sexuality, race, national belonging, ethnicity or age into account. I put the transnational social space into productive dialogue with poststructuralist theories of subject formation and feminist, postcolonial and queer interventions into transnational migration research. I examine how these literatures complement one another in fruitful ways and productively illustrate one another’s limitations. In doing so, I argue for a queer-intersectional approach to subject formation in transnational social spaces.

2013

Towards the Queer Intersectional Study of Transnational Social Space

Transnational Spaces and Gender, University of Paderborn.

New Post-Migrant Socialities: Rethinking Urban Leisure Publics in the Context of Diversity and Dominance, Goethe-University, Frankfurt.

Abstract

To bring queer theory’s conceptual tools to gender and transnational migration studies, this paper argues for a queer-intersectional approach to subject formation in transnational social spaces. To that end, it puts the transnational social space into productive dialogue with poststructuralist theories of subject formation and feminist and queer interventions into transnational migration research. It illustrates how the study of transnational social spaces can benefit from drawing on intersectional theories in gender studies and the queering of methodologies beyond the study of queer subjects. Heteronormativity not only excludes non-heterosexuals but is deeply entrenched in the production of all subjects. Pairing an intersectional lens with the queering of methodologies acknowledges heter¬onormativity as part of the social space within which transnational subjects are formed, and draws attention to the relationship between transnationality, gender and sexualities and the (non-)normative alignments across those and other axes of difference.

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