Discursive skin Entanglements of gender, discourse and technology

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between gender, discourse and technology, and the resulting construction of bodily norms, in a contemporary environment dominated by info- and bio-technologies. The premise from which this study starts is that the ‘intra-action’ between gender, discourse and technology plays a central role in shaping contemporary identities. The study is based on close readings of material from three case studies: cyberpunk fiction, (in)fertility weblogs and the World Health Organisation guidelines on naming of biotechnologies. The distinctive combination of the three case studies provides a unique perspective on the relationship between gender, discourse and technology, showing how it shifts across different contexts, and demonstrating the socio-historical contingency of the bodily norms produced therein.This study is comprised of three empirical texts, one theoretical text and a kappa. The analysis shows how innovative cyberpunk narratives challenge not only human/non-human boundaries, but also genre and gender conventions. The specific format of the blog allows women’s experiences of infertility to be heard and produces hybrid discourses which challenge contemporary authoritative discourses about femininity. The third case study explores the assignment of International Nonproprietary Names to new biotechnologies, and the implications of this on the construction of patients’ bodies. Finally, the theoretical text contributes to existing feminist analyses of technoscience by proposing a new tool called abject/noise for examining disruptions to discursive and bodily coherence. This tool is then tested on a series of documents about the assignment of International Nonproprietary Names to new biotechnologies. Throughout, the importance of ‘situated knowledges’ is emphasised, both in how gender, discourse and technology are understood, but also in the norms produced and the position of the researcher.