Technoqueer: Re/Con/Figuring Posthuman Narratives

Chang, Edmond Y. Technoqueer: Re/Con/Figuring Posthuman Narratives. 2012. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

This dissertation addresses the intersections of queer and technology to rethink the posthuman as raced, gendered, and queered as co-constituted through and by technology. Given technoculture's appropriation of queerness as yet another identity category subject to individualist manipulation and the near invisibility or silence of technology in queer theory, this dissertation theorizes the "technoqueer," building on the pioneering work of Donna Haraway's cyborg, Roseanne Allucquere Stone definition of the technosocial subject, Nina Wakeford's cyberqueer, Lisa Nakamura's cybertype, and N. Katherine Hayles on the posthuman. This project looks at cyberspace and bodyhacking technologies--real or imagined--to show how technology is never neutral or simply a tool. On the one hand, the metaphor of cyberspace and the reality of online "synthetic worlds" rely on ideologies of configurable identities, disembodiment, and freedom of exploration and expression. On the other hand, bodyhacking or the ability to shape, manipulate, enhance, and transform the body offers similar promises of escaping biological destiny, of self-improvement and self-fashioning, and possessive individuality. Given the popular narratives of technologies like the Internet, bionics, and gamification as liberating humanity from the prison of the "meat," this dissertation deploys a comparative study of literature, video games, and body modification technologies in order to articulate alternative readings of technologically-mediated race, gender, and sexuality foreclosed or overlooked by contemporary posthumanism. Looking to figures like Alan Turing or the Bionic Woman and looking at texts like William Gibson's Neuromancer, George Schuyler's Black No More, Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Irrational Games's Bioshock, and Zynga's Facebook game Frontierville, this project demonstrates the ways technology is imbricated with race, gender, and sexuality and how liberation from one set of embodiments or identities often means the stabilization or policing of others. The technoqueer then reveals and challenges the structures of the near ubiquity of technological mediation and penetration into twenty-first century life--the technonormative matrix--in order to theorize alternative futurities and embrace technoqueer worldmaking. It is through these technoqueer utopias that both queer theory and technoculture theory can continue to revitalize the intersectional formation of sex, gender, sexuality, race, and technology.