Disciplines: Digital and Computational Studies; Information Studies; Science and Technology Studies; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Critical Ethnic Studies; Data Science; and Medical Humanities.
Arizona State University, 2016 to Present
Role: Research Collaborator
Project Description: In this project, I collaborate with Jacqueline Wernimont (ASU), Jessica Rajko (ASU), Marisa Duarte (ASU), Heather Ross (ASU), and Patricia Garcia (University of Michigan), and to investigate phenomenological experiences of quantification through the use of wearable fitness trackers, in particular as these shape quality-of-life in US-Mexico borderlands. This project emerges out of a desire to situate bodies as a place of knowing in encounters with everyday digital technologies. Early findings reveal patterns around individual agency amid data-rich environments, neoliberal uses of data logs and corporate surveillance of women’s bodies, and questions around the relationships between somatics, embodiment, haptics, and technologies for knowing and understanding the body. The goals of this project are to better understand how we perform data and how data performs us; to understand a range of feminist, intersectional, and decolonizing approaches to using and creating data, algorithms, and interfaces, and to understand the long history of quantification as it relates to cycles of discrimination and oppression.
Funding Sources: Global Security Initiative at Arizona State University (Co-PIs: Jessica Rajko, Marisa Duarte, and Jacqueline Wernimont)
- Garcia, P. & Cifor, M. Embodying Data: Duoethnography as a Feminist Methodology for Studying Wearables,” Imagining Intersectional Futures: Feminist Approaches in CSCW, CSCW 2017, Portland, Oregon, February 25, 2017.
Archiving Bodies, Data, and Embodiment
Role: Principal Investigator, 2015 to Present
Project Description: In a series of articles currently underway, I examine the ways that archives (digital and analog), new media and data are constructing and reproducing normative concepts of bodies, health, and sexuality on global, national, and personal scales. The regulation of behavior and bodies through these technologies holds significant implications for women and for racialized, displaced, and LGBTQ persons. In articles in Transgender Studies Quarterly and Australian Feminist Studies, I brought together feminist theorizations of materiality, affect and embodiment with archival theories to consider the potential of bodily matter in archives to counter archival absences and silences about LGBTQ persons and communities. Building on that work on archiving bodies in a new research project I am analyzing the biometric surveillance of refugees. Biometrics are increasingly used for refugee registration worldwide by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The collection and retention into perpetuity through a private-public partnership of refugees’ fingerprints, iris scans, and photographs creates an archive of bodily traces that attempts to fix identity to the body, echoing biometrics’ colonial and racialized origins. Data is also a crucial site of resistance and mediation for refugees. At borders and in camps refugees continue to enact agency through identity performances and bodily refusals. This line of inquiry into the intersections of archives, data, and bodies will culminate in a second book investigating the roles of records and data—medical, legal, and those generated through social media and dating sites—in constructing HIV-positive bodies as risky. The racialized and gendered construction of persons living with HIV in the United States and at its borders as dangerous and non-normative sexual subjects limits their mobility, and figures into extensive criminalization processes and enhanced surveillance.
- Cifor, M. (2017). Stains and Remains: Liveliness, Materiality, and the Archival Lives of Queer Bodies. Australian Feminist Studies, Issue 91-92.
- Cifor, M. (2015). Presence, Absence, and Victoria’s Hair: Affect and Embodiment in Trans Archives. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2(4): 645-649.
Classifying, Documenting, and Preserving Human Sexuality at the Kinsey Institute
Bowdoin College and Indiana University, Bloomington
Role: Co-PI (with Robert D. Montoya)
Project Description: This is a collaborative research project under development with Robert D. Montoya (School of Computing, Informatics, and Engineering at Indiana University, Bloomington). We will be examining the historical and contemporary collection, classification, and description practices pertaining to human sexuality materials in the Kinsey Institute Collections at Indiana University, Bloomington. The work of the Institute has had a profound, but under examined impact on the classifications of bodies, sex, and sexuality across information contexts. We are currently seeking funding to support this scholarship.