HMKK03613U Cultural Policy: Feminist Cultural Politics of Technology

Volume 2020/2021

Technology is never neutral. As the second part of the cultural policy module, this course will be dealing with questions concerning the politics of technology. This course aims to engage critically with the cultural implications of digital culture within the context of cultural politics. While our contemporary digital culture poses new conceptual and methodological challenges, it also sustains problems that precedes the field by hundreds of years, such as questions on gender, race, representation, and diversity. 


Drawing on thinkers such as N. Katherine Hayles, Donna Haraway, Sara Ahmed, and Wendy Chun, we will engage with the ways in which sexism and racism is reinforced in digital culture by reproduction of outdated (but still very much alive) stereotypes, discuss how the allocation of knowledge production (and decision making) to AI systems does not remove human bias, but rather permits for a ‘neutralisation’ of prejudice, and explore the potential promises of digital technologies while considering possible vulnerabilities.


This course will incorporate cultural theory to engage with cultural-political implications of digital technologies by asking vital questions such as: What is the relationship between ethics and AI (i.e. artificial intelligence)? What is the role of affect in socio-technical systems? How is pattern discrimination enforcing problematic notions of being? Who is targeted by face recognition? What is algorithmic bias and how does it have an effect on us? Do machines have agency?


As a starting point, we will examine different understandings of the relationship between humans, gender, and machines. Then we will discuss how users engage with their personal digital data and experience their “digital self” as well as questioning how personal data becomes a cultural product including discussions on (possibilities of) data activism practices. Furthermore, this course will introduce theories of technology and human-technology interaction from critical and feminist perspectives. Introducing the basic terms and mechanisms around AI, the course will also focus on ethical approaches to AI in general. Subsequently, we will frame some of the difficulties in dealing with the continuous growth in the production and dispersion of big data, including pattern discrimination. 


The course will be conducted in English, but exams will be in Danish or English as preferred.


The sessions are divided between the two lecturers, who will teach 2 and 3 sessions respectively (the two final sessions will be compiled into a full-day workshop).

Students are required to acquire online articles and book chapters themselves through their University of Copenhagen logins in KUBIS. Material will be uploaded to Absalon in cases where it is not available online.


Examples of literature:


Haraway, Donna. 1991. A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature. London: Free Association Books.


Hayles, Nancy Katherine. How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature and informatics. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1999, pp.1-25.


Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. 2018. Chapter 3) Queering Homophily. In Pattern Discrimination. Discrimination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Available at: https:/​/​​books/​pattern-discrimination/​


Ahmed. Sara. 2014. Chapter 6) In the Name of Love. In The Cultural Politics of Emotion. London: Routledge

The course is based on 5 sessions that each lasts four hours and a full-day workshop. During these sessions, the lecturer will present the central texts followed by discussions in pairs, groups, and in plenum. The final lesson consists of a full-day workshop in which the students will work on the central themes and theories presented throughout the course. Before the workshop, the student will hand in a compulsory assignment creating a framework for their final exam.
This course is one out of three cultural policy courses that constitute the second half of the cultural policy module (the first part is the mandatory course Cultural policy: Theory, method & analysis). Students should therefore choose between this course, Digital kulturpolitik or Samtidsikonoklasme: Hvorfor ødelægger vi (stadig) kunst?
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 140
  • Exam
  • 42
  • Total
  • 210
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)