THE LAST DECADE HAS SEEN THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW ECOLOGY of computer coding academies, non-profits, and after-school programs dedicated to teaching coding languages to women and underrepresented minorities in particular. Prof. Nelson examines the symbolic and technical work of computer coding initiatives and the narratives of democracy, mobility, and the future that undergird them. How do the ideals of democracy and success come to be conflated with technical skills? How might myopic faith in coding as a portal onto the future exacerbate the very inequalities it is sought after to remedy?
ALONDRA NELSON is professor of sociology and gender studies and Dean of Social Science at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is Chair-elect of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology. She is the author of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome (2016), which traces how claims about ancestry are marshaled together with genetic analysis in a range of social ventures, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (2011). She is also editor or coeditor of the volumes Technicolor: Race, Technology and Everyday Life (2001), Afrofuturism (2002), and Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (2012).
All attendees are encouraged to read Prof. Nelson's paper, available here.