C a p t i v a t i n g t e C h n o l o g y

R a C e , C a R C e R a l t e C h n o s C i e n C e ,

a n d l i b e R a t o R y i m a g i n a t i o n

i n e v e R y d a y l i f e

R u h a B e n j a m i n e d i t o R

Captivating Technologyr ace, carcer al

technoscience, and

liber atory imagination

in everyday life

Ruha Benjamin, editor

Duke University PressDurham and London


© 2019 Duke University PressAll rights reserved

Printed in the United States of Amer i ca on acid- free paper ∞Designed by Kim Bryant

Typeset in Merope and Scala Sans by Westchester Publishing Services

Library of Congress Cataloging- in- Publication DataNames: Benjamin, Ruha, editor.Title: Captivating technology : race, carceral technoscience, and liberatory imagination

in everyday life / Ruha Benjamin, editor.Description: Durham : Duke University Press, 2019. | Includes bibliographical references

and index.Identifiers: lccn 2018042310 (print) | lccn 2018056888 (ebook)isbn 9781478004493 (ebook)isbn 9781478003236 (hardcover : alk. paper)isbn 9781478003816 (pbk. : alk. paper)Subjects: lcsh: Prisons— United States. | Electronic surveillance— Social aspects—

United States. | Racial profiling in law enforcement— United States. | Discrimination in criminal justice administration— United States. | African Americans— Social conditions—21st  century. | United States— Race relations—21st  century. | Privacy, Right of— United States.

Classification: lcc hv9471 (ebook) | lcc hv9471 .c2825 2019 (print) | ddc 364.028/4— dc23

lc rec ord available at https:// lccn . loc . gov / 2018042310

An earlier version of chapter 1, “Naturalizing Coersion,” by Britt Rusert, was published as “ ‘A Study of Nature’: The Tuskegee Experiments and the New South Plantation,” in Journal of Medical Humanities 30, no. 3 (summer 2009): 155–71. The author thanks

Springer Nature for permission to publish an updated essay.

Chapter 13, “Scratch a Theory, You Find a Biography,” the interview of Troy Duster by Alondra Nelson, originally appeared in the journal Public Culture 24,

no. 2 (67): 283–302. Copyright 2012 by Duke University Press.

Duke University Press gratefully acknowledges Princeton University, which provided funds toward the publication of this book.

Cover art: Manzel Bowman, Turbine, 2016. Digital Collage.


Foreword, xiTroy Duster

Acknowl edgments, xvRuha Benjamin

Introduction:Discriminatory Design, Liberating Imagination, 1

Ruha Benjamin

part i. carcer al techniques from plantation to pr ison

1 )  Naturalizing Coercion:The Tuskegee Experiments and the Laboratory Life

of the Plantation, 25Britt Rusert

2 )  Consumed by Disease:Medical Archives, Latino Fictions, and Carceral Health Imaginaries, 50

Christopher Perreira

3 )  Billions Served:Prison Food Regimes, Nutritional Punishment, and

Gastronomical Re sis tance, 67Anthony Ryan Hatch

4 )  Shadows of War, Traces of Policing:The Weaponization of Space and the Sensible in Preemption, 85

Andrea Miller

5 )  This Is Not Minority Report:Predictive Policing and Population Racism, 107

R. Joshua Scannell

part ii. surveillance systems from facebook to fast fashion

6 )  Racialized Surveillance in the Digital Ser vice Economy, 133Winifred R. Poster

7 )  Digital Character in “The Scored Society ”:FICO, Social Networks, and Competing Mea sure ments of

Creditworthiness, 170Tamara K. Nopper

8 )  Deception by Design:Digital Skin, Racial Matter, and the New Policing of

Child Sexual Exploitation, 188Mitali Thakor

9 )  Employing the Carceral Imaginary:An Ethnography of Worker Surveillance in the Retail Industry, 209

Madison Van Oort

part iii. retooling liber ation from abolitionists to afrofutur ists

10 )  Anti- Racist Technoscience:A Generative Tradition, 227

Ron Eglash

11 )  Techno- Vernacular Creativity and Innovation across the African Diaspora and Global South, 252

Nettrice R. Gaskins

12 )  Making Skin Vis i ble through Liberatory Design, 275Lorna Roth

13 )  Scratch a Theory, You Find a Biography, 308A Conversation with Troy Duster

14 )  Reimagining Race, Re sis tance, and Technoscience, 328A Conversation with Dorothy Roberts

Bibliography, 349Contributors, 389

Index, 393


Troy Duster

Can a robot or an algorithm be racist? A simple question with a very simple answer. The reason why there is some confusion in the varied responses to this question is directly related to how much context and history is known about what goes into the computer programming. If the programmer knows little or nothing about the substance of the matter (e.g., from outside their own culture), the chances are very high that the seeming neutrality of “data in” will miss when there is racism embedded in the algorithm. Let’s take two basic ele ments of a demo cratic society: voting rights and marriage eligibility. As a heuristic tool, it will be useful to contrast the voting access and marriage eligibility of a Japa nese person of Burakumin descent (in Japan) with how American citizens of recent Eu ro pean or African descent in the United States are affected by voting rights and marriageability.

Here are the first lines from a New York Times report of September 1, 2017: “The calls started flooding in from hundreds of irate North Carolina voters just after 7 a .m. on Election Day last November. Dozens were told they were ineligible to vote and were turned away at the polls, even when they dis-played current registration cards. Others were sent from one polling place to another, only to be rejected. Scores of voters were incorrectly told they had cast ballots days earlier. In one precinct, voting halted for two hours.”1

On the surface, a strong social tradition or law determining the contours of eligibility can appear neutral, but a bit of knowledge about social his-tory can easily reveal embedded racial or ethnic bias. As many Americans know, a fine example would be the “grand father’s clause” used in the post- Reconstruction South to prevent blacks (newly freed from slavery) from vot-ing, as in, one can vote only if one’s grand father voted. This grand father’s clause had disparate impact on whites and blacks, and it is notable that in the last three de cades, the right- tilting U.S. Supreme Court has substantially eroded “disparate impact” as grounds for challenging the constitutional standing of a law.

In the con temporary world of Japan, how might a parallel history provide access to (or denial of ) voting rights—or marriage eligibility? Japa nese par-ents spend several hundred million dollars every year paying detectives to

xii ) Troy Duster

ascertain information on whether their marriage- age children should either break off an engagement or marry. Why?

The Burakumin of Japan are a pariah caste at the base of Japa nese cul-ture and social stratification, and have occupied the bottom rung for over 1,200  years! The Japa nese, like the Swedes and the Icelanders, are meticu-lously good, even rabid, rec ord keepers. So they have birth rec ords that go back several hundred years. The Burakumin were restricted to living in their own cordoned- off villages until the Meiji reforms of 1868–71, when the Tokugawa- era laws were overturned. Japa nese birth rec ords reveal not just when one was born, but with further research, one can use the koseki (birth certificates for every Japa nese, with more info than a U.S. certificate), to find out where one’s parents were born. So the Japa nese hire researchers to sur-reptitiously (and illegally, since Meiji times) access the koseki and thus are able to trace back two, three, or even four generations of direct ancestry. This comes in handy, even in today’s Japan, where parents of young couples who want to get married hire detectives (at a cost of over several hundred million dollars annually) to trace the koseki—to make certain that their offspring do not marry a Burakumin.

Now imagine that the Japa nese could concoct an algorithm that could do such tracing and embed koseki information into voter eligibility. It would be the equivalent of our grand father’s clause but disguised as simply a neutral technology for tracing voter eligibility. Unless one knows about the history of the Burakumin, that machinery could be characterized as “neutral” by a computer programmer . . .  and the embedded bias would be invisible with-out knowledge of Japa nese history.

There is a parallel in the United States. Republican governors across a dozen states have pushed for voter registration that restricts access based upon “neutral” conditions such as state- issued identification cards with pho-tos. All that would appear neutral to a computer programmer, oblivious to systemic and voter suppression strategies designed to intimidate or restrict black voters, overwhelmingly in the South, going back to the Jim Crow laws of the post- Reconstruction. A disproportionate number of blacks were af-fected by the grand father’s voting eligibility— just as a disproportionate number of blacks are affected by the “neutrality ” of state- issued ids, but oh so much more subtly. Disparate impact was blatant in the law that required evidence that one’s grand father had voted but has been “neutrally ” disguised in photo id laws. The answer to the question posed at the outset? Robots and algorithms can be as racist as the designers of the generated computer programs. Captivating Technology examines just such hidden interconnec-

Foreword ( xiii

tions of seemingly neutral technologies, disentangling and identifying the social and historical, illuminating how and why it infuses the not- so- neutral “machinery.”

Note1. Nicole Perlroth, Michael Wines, and Matthew Rosenberg, “Rus sian Election

Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny,” New York Times, September 1, 2017, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// www . nytimes . com / 2017 / 09 / 01 / us / politics / russia – election – hacking . html.

Acknowl edgments

I am deeply grateful to the contributors to this volume for investing their energy and insights to bring this proj ect to life. I had long admired each of them as thinkers, and now I stand in awe of their generosity and diligence as collaborators. I was told earlier in my career by more than one person that edited volumes were not a smart investment of time. I am so glad I did not listen! Habitual stubbornness for the win. Working on this book has been one of the most rewarding experiences and I have no doubt this is because I had the opportunity to work so closely with people who continually blow my mind and put it back together in new ways.

This book would not have been pos si ble without the incredible support of Prince ton University’s Department of African American Studies. It is a rare thing, I suspect, to love, re spect, and enjoy the com pany of one’s colleagues. But that is the case here. Anna Arabindan- Kesson, Wendy Belcher, Wallace Best, Eddie Glaude, Reena Goldthree, Joshua Guild, Tera Hunter, Naomi Murakawa, Kinohi Nishikawa, Chika Okeke- Agulu, Imani Perry, Stacey Sin-clair, Keeanga- Yamahtta Taylor, Judith Weisenfeld, and Autumn Womack teach me that is pos si ble, even within old systems, to forge new ways of relating and being together. And it is an open secret that none of our work would be pos si ble without the incomparable staff, past and pres ent, Allison Bland, Elio Lleo, Jana Johnson, April Peters, and Dionne Worthy.

This department exemplifies the idea that technologies are not just “out there” in the world, but they include the everyday social tools that we all em-ploy in our interactions with one another, containing or liberating, tearing each other down or building one another up. I am incredibly fortunate to work with people who choose the latter again and again. The freedom and encouragement I have experienced in this context teach me that it is pos si ble to build new worlds in the midst of old ones.

The seeds of this proj ect were first planted at the “Ferguson Is the Future” symposium at Prince ton University in September  2015, which was funded by generous grants from the David  A. Gardner ’69 Magic Proj ect in the Council of the Humanities and the Lewis Center for the Arts. The sym-posium was also cosponsored by the Prince ton Department of En glish, Pro-gram in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Department of African American Studies, Council on Science and Technology, Prince ton Public Library, and

xvi ) Acknowl edgments

Octavia  E. Butler Legacy Network. This gathering would not have happened without the collaboration of my extraordinary colleagues Moya Bailey and Ayana  A.  H. Jamieson, whose ongoing work on black feminist approaches to science, technology, and imagination continue to sharpen my own think-ing and commitments. Also essential were Allison Bland and Elio Eleo’s tech savvy, Iyabo Kwayana’s film- making talent, and Ezelle Sanford III, Megan Eardley, and Destiny Crockett’s planning prowess. Last but not least, Dionne Worthy: there are no words that can fully express her programming genius— but anyone who has experienced it knows.

There are also a number of venues where I, along with many of the con-tributing authors, had the chance to pres ent this work and get feedback that helped us hone our ideas, including panels at the Eastern So cio log i cal Society (2017), Society for the Social Studies of Science (2017), University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication, uc San Diego Science Studies Program, and Prince ton StudioLab “Rethinking Mass Incarceration” Design Challenge series.

I was also very fortunate to receive sabbatical support from the Institute for Advanced Study in Prince ton, and special thanks to Didier Fassin for cre-ating such a wonderful space for scholars engaged in critical work at ias. My deepest gratitude goes to my writing partners, Keisha- Khan Y. Perry and the late Lee Ann Fujii, who filled this year with so much joy and encouragement. They, along with Reuben and Janice Miller, helped me experience the sweet-ness of making new, lifelong friends in unlikely places, and reminded me that intellectual work thrives in the soil of friendship.

I also want to express my appreciation for those intellectual kin who have buoyed and grounded me over many years— Catherine Bliss, Dawn Dow, Alondra Nelson, Aaron Panofsky, Anne Pollock, and Tianna Paschel; as well as my gradu ate and postdoc advisors— Charis Thompson, Sheila Jasanoff, Stefan Timmermans, Loïc Wacquant, and Troy Duster whose early and ongo-ing support have been crucial to my development.

I also want to extend a very special thanks to students in my “Black to the Future” Seminar (fall 2017), Rachel Adler, Jean Bellamy, Taylor Branch, My Bui, Malachi Byrd, Maia Ezratty, Kenya Holland, Sara Howell, E Jeremijenko- Conley, Stefan Lee, Talya Nevins, Aparna Raghu, Leslie Robinson, Destiny Salter, Rosed Serrano, Max Stahl, Emmanuel Teferi, and Elena Tsemberis, who read an early draft of this book and provided invaluable feedback. The opportunity to work with so many incredible young scholars, including Kessie Alexandre, Kimberly Bain, Megan Blanchard, Chaya Chowder, Col-leen Campbell, Janeria Easley, Nyle Fort, Emanuela Kucik, Tala Khanmalek,

Acknowl edgments ( xvii

Heath Pearson, Briana Payton, and Ezelle Sanford III, has energized and em-boldened me over the last few years.

It goes without saying that Duke University Press was an incredible stew-ard of this proj ect! Without the expert guidance of Courtney Berger, Sandra Korn, the amazing editorial staff, and two anonymous reviewers who pro-vided invaluable feedback, this book would not have been pos si ble.

Last but not least, I thank my day ones (as my sons would put it), Malachi and Khalil for their surreality checks, Shawn for infusing the word partner with substance, and my mom, Behin, for always allowing me to walk free.

Technology captivates.Capturing bodies. Dashcams on the front of police vehicles recording

traffic stops turned deadly, as with the arrest of Sandra Bland on a Texas highway. Robot cranes reaching thirty feet in the air, monitoring images and heat signatures throughout Camden, New Jersey, deepening police occupa-tion of impoverished neighborhoods.1 Crime prediction algorithms labeling black defendants “higher risk” than their white counter parts, reinforcing popu lar ste reo types of criminality and innocence behind a veneer of objec-tivity.2 Electronic ankle monitors wrapping around the limbs of thousands of people as they await trial or serve parole . . .  an “attractive alternative” to cages, more humane and cost- effective than jails, we are told. Tools, in this way, capture more than just people’s bodies. They also capture the imagina-tion, offering technological fixes for a wide range of social prob lems.

Electronic tracking and location systems are part of a growing suite of interventions dubbed “technocorrections.”3 Indeed, these interventions

All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in.

— toni morrison

What is so astonishing about the fact that our prisons resemble our factories, schools, military bases, and hospitals— all of which in turn resemble prisons?

— michel f oucault

Introductiondiscriminatory design,

liberating imagination

Ruha Benjamin

2 ) Ruha Benjamin

come bubble wrapped in rhe toric about correcting, not just individuals, but social disorders such as poverty and crime. In the first- ever report analyz-ing the impact of electronic monitoring of youth in California, we learn that e- monitoring entails a combination of onerous and arbitrary rules that end up forcing young people back into custody for “technical violations.” 4 Attractive fixes, it turns out, produce new opportunities for youth to violate the law and, thereby, new grounds for penalizing them. But perhaps this is the point? Could it be that we don’t need technocorrections to make us secure, that we need social insecurity to justify technocorrections?5

Captivating Technology examines how the management, control, and “cor-rection” of poor and racialized people provide the raison d’être for investing in discriminatory designs.6 The volume aims to contribute to a long- standing so cio log i cal concern with structures of in equality. These “default settings” en-compass legal, economic, and now computer codes, and move past an indi-vidual’s intention to discriminate, by focusing analy sis on how technoscience reflects and reproduces social hierarchies, whether wittingly or not. From credit- scoring algorithms to workplace monitoring systems, novel techniques and devices are shown to routinely build upon and deepen in equality.7 Racist and classist forms of social control, in this sense, are not limited to obvious forms of incarceration and punishment; rather, they entail what sociologist Carla Shedd calls a “carceral continuum” that scales over prison walls.8

Even what is now popularly known as the “prison industrial complex” is vaster than most of us realize. As the editors of Captive Genders Eric Stanley and Nat Smith cata log, it includes “[i]immigration enters, juvenile justice facilities, county jails, holding rooms, court rooms, sheriffs’ offices, psychi-atric institutes,” along with an extensive set of social relations that include “prison labor, privatized prisons, prison guard unions, food suppliers, tele-phone companies, commissary suppliers, uniform producers, and beyond, the carceral landscape overwhelms.”9 Indeed, the enormity of the terrain is overwhelming, especially for those individuals, families, and communities that are caught in the crosshairs of this carceral regime.10 But what the fol-lowing pages reveal is that the sticky web of carcerality extends even further, into the everyday lives of those who are purportedly free, wrapping around hospitals, schools, banks, social ser vice agencies, humanitarian organ-izations, shopping malls, and the digital ser vice economy.11 Technology is not just a bystander that happens to be at the scene of the crime; it actually aids and abets the pro cess by which carcerality penetrates social life. It does so, in part, because technoscientific approaches seem to “fix” the prob lem of human bias when it comes to a wide range of activities. But as law profes-

Introduction ( 3

sor Patricia J. Williams insists with re spect to color- blind interventions more broadly, “the application of such quick fixes becomes not just a shortcut but a short- circuiting of the pro cess.”12 And while there is some hope for broad- based solidarity precisely because of how far- reaching carceral logics are, racialized groups continue to pay a much higher price for this failure to deal squarely with the deep currents of social life.

the new jim code

So how should we understand the duplicity of technological fixes— purported solutions that nevertheless sediment existing hierarchies? First, it is impor tant to reckon with the way that emerging technologies can reinforce interlocking forms of discrimination, especially when we presume they are insulated from human influence. This insidious combination of coded bias and imagined objectivity is what I call the New Jim Code— innovation that en-ables social containment while appearing fairer than discriminatory practices of a previous era. This riff on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow consid-ers how the reproduction of racist forms of social control in successive insti-tutional forms (slavery, Jim Crow, ghettoization, mass incarceration), now entails a crucial sociotechnical component that hides not only the nature of domination, but allows it to penetrate every facet of social life.

As I have argued elsewhere, these “postracial upgrades appear necessary and even empowering, which is precisely what makes them so effective at exacerbating in equality. . . .  In this way it is a kind of racial minimalism that allows for more and more racist vio lence to be less and less discernable.”13 Thus, truly transformative abolitionist proj ects must seek an end to carcer-ality in all its forms, from the state- sanctioned exercise of social control à la Big Brother, to everyday forms of surveillance that people engage in as workers, employers, consumers, and neighbors à la little brother.14 Taken together, such an approach rests upon an expansive understanding of the “carceral” that attends to the institutional and imaginative under pinnings of oppressive systems.

Indeed, abolishing the carceral continuum requires investment in a con-tinuum of alternatives to address the many social prob lems that the prison industry is tasked with managing but, thereby, perpetuates. In the words of Angela Y. Davis, the aim is not “prisonlike substitutes for the prison, such as house arrest safeguarded by electronic surveillance bracelets. Rather, pos-iting decarceration as our overarching strategy, we would try to envision a continuum of alternatives to imprisonment— demilitarization of schools,

4 ) Ruha Benjamin

revitalization of education at all levels, a health system that provides free physical and mental care to all, and a justice system based on reparation and reconciliation rather than retribution and vengeance.”15 A colossal undertak-ing indeed! This is why nothing short of the “creation of new institutions that lay claim to space now occupied by the prison” and all of its carceral antennae and appendages can form the basis of genuine social transforma-tion. To that end, this discussion aims to buoy the vital scholarly and activist investment in abolition and transformative justice by offering the first sus-tained analy sis of the carceral dimensions of emerging technologies across a wide range of social arenas.

The central questions animating the text are: Who and what are fixed in place to enable innovation in science and technology? What social groups are classified, corralled, coerced, and capitalized upon so others are free to tinker, experiment, design, and engineer the future? How are novel tech-nologies deployed in carceral approaches to governing life well beyond the domain of policing? This book also asks: To what end do we imagine? How can innovation in terms of our po liti cal, cultural, and social norms work toward freedom? How might technoscience be appropriated and re imagined for more liberatory ends? Ultimately, this volume is about what people can do, are doing about it. From Frederick Douglass to Dorothy E. Roberts, Afri-can diasporic artists to black feminist abolitionists, the following pages also explore visions of fashioning the world in radically diff er ent ways.

discriminatory design

In rethinking the relationship between technology and society, a more expan-sive conceptual tool kit is necessary, one that bridges science and technol-ogy studies (sts) and critical race studies, two fields not often put in direct conversation. This hybrid approach illuminates not only how society is impacted by technological development, as techno- determinists would argue, but how social norms, policies, and institutional frameworks shape a context that make some technologies appear inevitable and others impossible. This pro cess of mutual constitution wherein technoscience and society shape one another is called coproduction.16

In her book Dark Matters, for example, sociologist Simone Browne examines how surveillance technologies coproduce notions of blackness, explaining that “surveillance is nothing new to black folks”; from slave ships and slave patrols to airport security checkpoints and stop- and- frisk polic-ing practices, she points to the “facticity of surveillance in black life.”17 Chal-

Introduction ( 5

lenging a technologically determinist approach, she argues that instead of “seeing surveillance as something inaugurated by new technologies . . .  to see it as ongoing is to insist that we factor in how racism and anti- blackness undergird and sustain the intersecting surveillances of our pres ent order.”18 Antiblack racism, in this context, is not only a by-product, but a precondition for the fabrication of such technologies— antiblack imagination put to work.

A coproductionist analy sis calls for more than technological or scientific literacy, but a more far-reaching sociotechnical imaginary that examines not only how the technical and social components of design are intertwined, but also imagines how they might be configured differently.19 To extricate car-ceral imaginaries and their attending logics and practices from our institu-tions, we will also have to free up our own thinking and question many of our starting assumptions, even the idea of “crime” itself.

Take, for instance, a parody proj ect that begins by subverting the antiblack logics embedded in new high- tech approaches to crime prevention. Instead of using predictive policing techniques to forecast street crime, the White Collar Crime Early Warning System flips the script by creating a heat map that flags city blocks where financial crimes are likely to occur.20 The system brings not only the hidden, but no less deadly, crimes of capitalism into view, but includes an app that alerts users when they enter high- risk areas to encourage “citizen policing and awareness.”21 Taking it one step further, the development team is working on a facial recognition program to flag individuals who are likely perpetrators, and the training set used to design the algorithm includes the profile photos of 7,000 corporate executives downloaded from the popu lar professional networking site LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, the “average” face of a criminal is white and male. To be sure, creative exercises like this are only comical if we ignore the fact that all of its features are drawn directly from actually existing proposals and practices “in the real world,” including the use of facial images to predict criminality.22

By deliberately and inventively upsetting the status quo in this manner, analysts can better understand and expose the many forms of discrimination embedded in and enabled by technology. In fact, the late legal scholar Der-rick A. Bell encouraged just this— a radical assessment of real ity through cre-ative methods and racial reversals, insisting that “[t]o see things as they really are, you must imagine them for what they might be.”23

Discriminatory design, moreover, is a conceptual lens to investigate how social biases get coded, not only in laws and policies, but in many diff er ent objects and tools that we use in everyday life. Consider public benches de-signed with intermittent armrests that make it impossible to lie down. For

6 ) Ruha Benjamin

the typical passerby, the incon ve nience is negligible. But for a person who is homeless, it is another concrete reminder of one’s denigrated status as “ human refuse,” kept out of sight, out of mind through techniques of “in-visibilization.”24 Discriminatory design finds expression, too, in the spiked corners of luxury flats in London,25 single- occupancy benches in Helsinki, and caged public seating in France.26 In the last case, public criticism was swift and fierce, forcing city officials to remove the benches almost right away, demonstrating how everyday people can and should resist discriminatory designs as antithetical to the common good.

To illustrate how much of public life has been effectively privatized, Ger-man artist Fabian Brunsing created a metered bench that requires the user to pay in order for the spikes to retreat into the seat. Brunsing’s artwork re-minds us that, although discrimination may no longer be expressed in the form of “Whites Only ” signs hanging in storefronts or painted on the back of benches as they once were, seemingly neutral “pay to use” policies enforce social bound aries and deepen inequities nonetheless. The metering of public life is evident in education, health care, policing, and more, where public goods that are nominally for every one are structurally restrictive because historic and ongoing pro cesses of discrimination ensure some people can easily feed the meter while others must contend with the spikes.

Keep in mind that well before eighteen- year- old Michael Brown was murdered by Officer Darren Wilson in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, the municipality was exacting a pernicious form of economic terrorism by tar-geting the predominantly black citizenry for fees and fines in the millions of dollars. As one observer put it, “It’s easy to see the drama of a fatal police shooting, but harder to understand the complexities of municipal finances that created many thousands of hostile encounters, one of which turned fatal.”27 Like an ordinary park bench enforcing the line between wanted and unwanted, public policies overseeing the most mundane aspects of social life act like so many skewers, violently prodding those who cannot pay up.

This metering of social life is a key feature of the carceral infrastructure that extends well beyond prison bars. It contributed to the tragic death of Sandra Bland, who was charged $5,000  in bail, and thereby skewered by a punitive apparatus, which those with means could have walked away from. According to a federal study, there are over half a million people sitting in city and county jails who have not been convicted of a crime.28 In 2016 alone there were over eight hundred documented fatalities among those in lockup because they could not post bail29— a form of “premature death” that po liti-cal geographer Ruth Wilson Gilmore defines as a key feature of racist state

Introduction ( 7

vio lence.30 And considering that a meter is a mea sure ment tool, whether it is metered benches or metered public policies, the pervasive use of this tech-nology to govern public life signifies a perverse calculus of human worth.

ferguson is the future

It started with a captivating image, then a question.As the rebellion following the murder of eighteen- year- old Michael Brown

in Ferguson, Missouri, was under way in the summer of 2015, I came across a photo online (figure i.1) that arrested my attention. It showed a wall with the words Ferguson Is the Future spray- painted on the side.31 A future, I wondered, of militarized police who terrorize residents using technologies of war or a future of courageous communities who demand dignity and justice using technolo-gies of communication? The uncertainty, I think, is what we make of it.

Ultimately, these four words served as a catalyst for a symposium I co- organized with Moya Bailey and Ayana Jamieson, which we called “Ferguson Is the Future: Incubating Alternative Worlds through Arts, Activism, and Scholarship.” This book, however, did not grow directly out of that gathering in the conventional way that talks turn into chapters; in fact, only four of the contributors (Benjamin, Gaskins, Nelson, and Roberts) participated in the symposium. Rather, the inspiration came from a less direct source— a question posed to the last panel by my colleague, legal and cultural studies scholar Imani Perry. In characteristic fashion, she pushed the conversation in a direction it had not yet gone:

The question I have is about technology. . . .  I was thinking about technologies like bullets and tanks and the weapons trade as a technol-ogy. One of the things that was so remarkable about Ferguson and why it captured the imagination is that people, with their flesh, confronted technologies of domination and stood in front of them. And so the question I have is about the ethical relationship to technology. It can be a tool for incredible imaginative exploration, but it is unquestion-ably the mechanism of our domination in the current era. And so how do we, particularly given how we are all implicated in technologies of domination . . .  how do we all think about how to grapple with our relationship to these tools?32

Of all the incredible insights that grew out of “Ferguson Is the Future,” this question lingered the longest for me because of the way it forces a clear- eyed view of the life- and- death stakes of technoscience. It does not permit a

8 ) Ruha Benjamin

Twitter- friendly, formulaic response, but acts as an ongoing provocation that forces all those who seek to intervene in the deadly status quo to think anew about how to navigate material and ethical minefields. Captivating Technol-ogy offers one way forward— mapping technologies of domination that are often far more elusive than the bullets and teargas that meet protestors on the streets of U.S. cities, while pointing to alternative geographies where the very idea of “what tools are essential” for multispecies flourishing can en-gender ongoing experimentation and justice- oriented design.

radio imagination

This text engages with a number of foundational thinkers who have worked to develop an ethically grounded and so cio log i cally informed orientation toward science and technology,33 as well as more recent scholarship that explores how racial logics enter labs, clinics, public policies, pedagogies, and dis-courses about technoscience.34 Whereas an overwhelming focus of previous work is on ge ne tics and the life sciences more broadly, a number of scholars have broadened this emphasis to investigate the ways that racial and gender norms and hierarchies impact every thing from basic health care to artificial

figure i.1. “Ferguson Is the Future.” Photo by Paul Sableman. Source: Flickr . com. Image reproduced through Creative Commons.

Introduction ( 9

intelligence.35 Some of the most exciting developments in this arena go on to articulate ideas for how to construct technoscience differently.36

Also crucial for this discussion is scholarship that examines how science and technology operate through, with, and against policing, prisons, and carceral systems.37 A key feature of this work is the understanding that ra-cialized groups are not only the objects of harm and neglect, but that the meaning and power of racial hierarchies are enacted through technoscientific pro cesses. In a particularly disquieting example, Anne Pollock examines the case of the Scott sisters, whose dual life sentences were commuted by the governor of Mississippi on the condition that Gladys Scott donate a kid-ney to her ailing sister, Jamie.38 Pollock shows how “[b]eing eligible to con-tribute a bodily resource can enact membership in a group, be it family or state. . . .  In the United States, prison is not just a meta phor for power and control, but a potent way of organ izing bodies in space, and constituting and depriving citizenship.” The biomedical fix of organ transplantation is one of many techniques in which the rights, responsibilities, and coercive possibili-ties of po liti cal membership get enacted.

In attending to the underside of technoscience, the contributors to this volume remain attuned to the groans of bondage that echo whenever and wherever “liberty rings.” Together, our aim is to cultivate what Octavia  E. Butler called “the kind of imagination that hears . . .  radio imagination.”39 Radio imagination, as offered here, serves as a methodological touchstone for ethical engagement with technoscience, where the zeal for making new things is tempered by an ability to listen to the sounds and stories of people and things already made. In the broadest sense, at stake is the category “ human” itself 40— who defines it, inherits it, wields it . . .  who rents it, tills it, toils for it . . .  who gets expelled from it, buried under it, or drowned as they risk every thing to inhabit it?

reviving humanity

The rhe toric of human betterment that surrounds technoscience is not only a shiny veneer that hides complexity and camouflages destructive pro-cesses. This feel- good grammar also makes it difficult to recognize, much less intervene in, the deadly status quo. Addressing such distortions, includ-ing the lack of attention to race in theorizing new technologies, black studies scholar Alexander Weheliye joins a wide range of thinkers who challenge the “liberal humanist figure of Man.” 41 His intervention builds on black femi-nist theorizations of the human, particularly the work of Sylvia Wynter, who

10 ) Ruha Benjamin

posits diff er ent “genres” of humanity that include “full humans, not- quite humans, and nonhumans,” 42 through which racial, gendered, and colonial hierarchies are encoded as natu ral distinctions. As literary scholar Zakiyyah Jackson aptly explains in her synthesis of an alternative genealogy of post-humanist thought, one that foregrounds Wynter, Frantz Fanon, and Aime Cesaire, “the figure ‘man’ . . .  is a technology of slavery and colonialism that imposes its authority over ‘the universal’ through a racialized deployment of force.” 43 And as several of the chapters in this volume make clear, fiction writing and other creative works offer some of the most compelling post- postracial visions for challenging entrenched social hierarchies in a way that do not flatten differences.

In their engagement with speculative fiction writer Octavia  E. Butler, scholars Bailey and Jamieson explain how this “work concerns itself with the human prob lem, with the ways that humans’ dual nature as both intelligent and hierarchical beings dooms them/us to destruction in an infinite number of ways.” 44 A bleak vision, yes, but only if we decide not to activate a radio imagination that listens for and signals other ways of being human. In short, a black feminist approach to posthumanism and all of its technoscientific promises is not about including the oppressed in the fold of (Western liberal) humanism or about casting out humanism writ large, but about abolishing one par tic u lar genre that, by definition, dominates and devours all others. Ultimately, it is an approach to world- building in which myriad life forms can flourish.45

If, as argued, the rhe toric of human betterment distorts an understand-ing of the multifaceted interplay between technology and society, then a thoroughgoing commitment to justice has the potential to clarify and inspire possibilities for designing this relationship anew. Justice, in this sense, is not a static value but an ongoing methodology that can and should be incorpo-rated into design pro cesses. As JafariNaimi and colleagues powerfully con-tend, “we develop the value justice by testing and observing the work that the justice hypothesis does in vari ous situations, and we recognize situations as just or unjust through reference to this learning.” 46 As such, a justice- oriented approach to science and technology should not be limited to calls for “inclu-sion” as a vague multicultural platitude. Nor is it only about ensuring that a wide cross section of humanity can “access” technological goods and ser-vices. A fixation with barcodes, after all, has a way of barring more radical possibilities. As just one example of tech growth prompting socioeconomic decline, the rapid development of Silicon Valley has contributed to an alarm-ing homeless rate in East Palo Alto, a predominantly black and Latino area

Introduction ( 11

where more than one- third of schoolchildren now face housing instability.47 How, then, might we craft a justice- oriented approach to technoscience?48 It starts with questioning breathless claims of techno- utopianism, rethinking what counts as innovation, remaining alert to the ways that race and other hierarchies of difference get embedded in the creation of new designs, and ultimately refashioning the relationship between technology and society by prioritizing justice and equity.

refashioning race and technology

As it turns out, the pro cess of refashioning the relationship between race and technology may entail actual fashion. Hyphen- Labs, an international team of women of color working at the intersection of technology, art, science, and futurism,49 is experimenting with a wide array of subversive designs, includ-ing earrings for recording police altercations, and visors and other clothing that prevent facial recognition, all part of their Not Safe as Fuck proj ect. Interestingly, Hyphen- Labs created a neurocosmetology lab that creatively employs “hair braid electrodes to stimulate an increased flow of concentra-tion,”50 which finds its pedagogical counterpart in the work of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (rpi) led by one of the volume contribu-tors, Ron Eglash, who are developing culturally situated design tools. One of the rpi proj ects, Cornrow Curves, focuses on “the under lying mathemati-cal and computational thinking involved in cornrow braiding . . .  [which] aligns with the mathematician’s sense of fractal patterns as iterative scaling, and a computer scientist’s sense of algorithm.”51 Cornrow Curves is part of a broader community informatics initiative, which is recasting what counts as technoscience and who we think of as innovators.52 In the pro cess, the cre-ative, even beautiful dimensions of liberatory design abound!

Fi nally, you the reader are encouraged to explore the edges of your own imagination— the border patrols others have imposed, as well as the moni-toring systems you may have installed yourself, including those gatekeepers squatting in the nooks and crannies of your thinking, forcing you down cer-tain pathways and telling you to avoid others. How can we expect to change social structures when we continue to nurture the same habits of mind in our mental structures? Reflecting on mass incarceration and abolition, Angela Y. Davis advises, “Dangerous limits have been placed on the very possibility of imag-ining alternatives. These ideological limits have to be contested. We have to begin to think in diff er ent ways. Our future is at stake.”53 Davis reminds us that the carceral imagination limits not only our beings and bodies, but also

12 ) Ruha Benjamin

the many fixes proposed. Captivating Technology aspires to deepen our collec-tive understanding of the significance of imagination, drawing on anthro-pologist Arjun Appadurai’s formulation that imagination is

no longer mere fantasy (opium for the masses whose real work is else-where), no longer simple escape (from a world defined principally by more concrete purposes and structures), no longer elite pastime (thus not relevant to the lives of ordinary people), and no longer mere con-templation (irrelevant for new forms of desire and subjectivity), the imagination has become an or ga nized field of social practices, a form of work (both in the sense of labor and culturally or ga nized practice) and a form of negotiation. . . .  The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact, and is the key component of the new global order.54

The task, then, is to challenge not only forms of discriminatory design in our inner and outer lives, but to work with others to imagine and create alterna-tives to the techno quo— business as usual when it comes to technoscience—as part of a larger strug le to materialize collective freedoms and flourishing. If, as emphasized in this book, the carceral imagination captures and contains, then a liberatory imagination opens up possibilities and pathways, creates new templates, and builds on a black radical tradition that has continually developed insights and strategies grounded in justice.


The book is or ga nized into three parts, beginning with traditional sites of carcerality “from plantation to prison,” followed by more hidden arenas of carceral technoscience “from Facebook to fast fashion,” and culminating in a sustained focus on justice- oriented approaches to science and technology “from abolitionists to Afrofuturists.” This flow takes the reader from more fa-miliar terrain, cast here in a new light, to less familiar territory, with a focus on continuities and discontinuities with the former. The final part blends the historical, speculative, and biographical to engender new connections that will hopefully inspire justice- oriented experiments in thinking and praxis that even we, the contributors, could not predict.

Part I, “Carceral Techniques from Plantation to Prison,” examines the entanglement of succoring and suffering, in which forms of supervision and control typically associated with policing and punishment are incor-porated in the health management of subordinate populations. Conversely,

Introduction ( 13

techniques of prediction and prevention that animate novel approaches to “precision medicine” are shown to infuse the work of police and prisons. Each chapter grapples with the dialectic between helping and harming and illuminates the spatial logics of racial containment on plantations (Rusert), sanatoriums (Perreira), prisons (Hatch), urban neighborhoods (Miller), and fictional futurescapes (Scannell). Geographic space serves as a seemingly neutral proxy for the control of racialized populations; “places not people” are the focus (read: target), we are told. But whether it is the southern plantation, black ghetto, Brazilian favela, South African township, Palestinian territory, Indian slum, or now, algorithmically confirmed “hot spots” of crime and sick-ness, geographic and racial imaginaries remain deeply intertwined, the former naturalizing the latter, whereby “desirable” and “undesirable” serve as euphe-mistic codes for valuable and disposable people.

Part II, “Surveillance Systems from Facebook to Fast Fashion,” investi-gates the relationship between surveillance and conceptions of the social good, where the latter encompasses the digital ser vice economy (Poster), financial health (Nopper), child safety (Thakor), and a wide array of work-places (Van Oort). Subjugation, after all, is hardly ever the explicit objective of science and technology; instead, noble aims such as “health” and “safety ” serve as a kind of moral prophylactic for newfangled forms of social control. Each chapter traces how the twin pro cesses of classification and containment extend well beyond the domain of policing, employing novel techniques of-fered as innovative solutions to entrenched social prob lems. Each demon-strates how such fixes encode inequity, and in many cases obscure racist logics and assumptions built into their design, ultimately making it more difficult to challenge and demand accountability.

Part III, “Retooling Liberation from Abolitionists to Afrofuturists,” ex-amines how those who are “fixed” by science and technology actively ap-propriate and reimagine technoscience for liberatory ends. While the first two parts of the book also explore diff er ent forms of re sis tance that take shape under oppressive conditions, this section focuses squarely on efforts to retool the relationship between science, technology, and social justice (Eglash, Gaskins, and Roth). This focus is guided by sociologist Alondra Nelson’s query, “at what moments and through which tactics did black com-munities strive to tilt the balance of authority ” toward collective freedom and flourishing?55 Tactics, yes, and also a black radical imagination of the kind historian Robin  D.  G. Kelley envisions: “We must tap the well of our own collective imaginations, that we do what earlier generations have done: dream. . . .  Without new visions we don’t know what to build, only what to

14 ) Ruha Benjamin

knock down. We not only end up confused, rudderless, and cynical but we forget that making a revolution is not a series of clever maneuvers and tactics but a pro cess that can and must transform us.”56 Kelley’s appeal, like that of Nelson, Davis, and many others gone before, reminds us that radical imag-ination is central to refusing discriminatory design and building a just and habitable world.

The last two chapters of this section are interviews conducted by Alon-dra Nelson and Ruha Benjamin, respectively, with two pioneers in the study of science, technology, and race— Berkeley Professor Emeritus Troy Duster and University of Pennsylvania Professor Dorothy  Roberts. In classic so-cio log i cal fashion, and consistent with Duster’s reported fondness for say-ing “Scratch a theory, you find a biography,”57 these conversations situate the individual scholar within family, community, and institutions, and trace the links between their early lives and their academic pursuits. From the head-line “Black Radical Professor Attacks Amer i ca” lodged against Duster to Roberts’s experience as a young mother at a high- powered law firm in New York, the reader comes to appreciate how the personal is both so cio log i cal and po liti cal, and how such experiences shaped their intellectual interest in the “preframe” of science and technology.

In mapping how Duster’s and Roberts’s work disrupts dominant narra-tives of technoscience, the interviews themselves seek to unsettle a domi-nant social science tenet that divorces scholars’ personal lives from their intellectual pursuits. Instead, a liberatory approach to social studies of sci-ence, technology, and race aims to ground knowledge in the social world. “Situating knowledge” is not only about revealing its historical and human contingency, but ultimately aims to make technoscientific accounts of the world accountable by excavating who, what, where, when, and why, rather than allowing this social infrastructure to remain invisible.58 In this way, chapters 13 and 14 offer a model of scholarship that is at once foundational and aspirational for a new generation of thinkers who will see in the life sto-ries of Duster and Roberts the symbiosis of everyday strug le and scholarly insight. Ultimately, my hope is for you, the reader, to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the ones we cannot live within.

Notes1. Pamela Engel, “The City of Camden, New Jersey Is under Intense, Military- Style

Surveillance,” Business Insider, December 30, 2013, accessed January 25, 2018, http:// www . businessinsider . com / camden – new – jersey – police – surveillance – 2013–12.

Introduction ( 15

2. Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, and Lauren Kirchner, “Machine Bias,” ProPublica, May 23, 2016, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// www . propublica . org / article / machine – bias – risk – assessments – in – criminal – sentencing.

3. Anthony Hatch and Kym Bradley, “Prisons Matter: Psychotropics and the Trope of Silence in Technocorrections,” in Mattering: Feminism, Science, and Materialism, ed. Victoria Pitts- Taylor, 224–40 (New York: ny u Press, 2016).

4. Leslie Gordon, “New Report Faults California’s Electronic Monitoring of Youth,” University of California– Berkeley School of Law, May 11, 2017, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// www . law . berkeley . edu / article / new – report – faults – californias – electronic – monitoring – youth / ; see also Victor M. Rios, Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (New York: nyu Press, 2011), for a qualitative account of the modes of crimi-nalization and re sis tance that shape the daily lives of Latino and African American boys in California; and Nikki Jones, Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner- City Vio lence (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009), for a qualitative ac-count of African American girls and inner- city vio lence, which opens with an account of the elaborate school- based surveillance that students must undergo, including X- rays, patdowns, and id checks that extends well past school hours into their everyday lives.

5. This is drawn from Roy’s incisive query, “Do we need weapons to fight wars? Or do we need wars to create a market for weapons?” Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story (Chicago: Haymarket, 2014), 43.

6. Wacquant elaborates on “the insatiable craving for bureaucratic innovations and technological gadgets: crime- watch groups and ‘guarantors of place’; partner-ships between police and other public ser vices (schools, hospitals, social workers, the national tax office, etc.); video surveillance cameras and computerized mapping of offenses; compulsory drug testing, ‘Tazers’ and ‘flash- ball’ guns; fast- track judicial pro-cessing and the extension of the prerogatives of probation and parole officers; criminal profiling, satellite- aided electronic monitoring, and generalized finger- printing; enlargement and technological modernization of carceral facilities; multiplication of specialized detention centers (for foreigners waiting to be expelled, recidivist minors, women and the sick, convicts serving community sentences, etc.).” Loïc Wacquant, Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 2.

7. As Virginia Eubanks writes, “technologies of poverty management are not neutral. They are shaped by our nation’s fear of economic insecurity and hatred of the poor.” Virginia Eubanks, Automated In equality: How High- Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (New York: St. Martin’s, 2018), 9.

8. Carla Shedd, “Countering the Carceral Continuum: The Legacy of Mass Incar-ceration,” Criminology and Public Policy 10, no. 3 (2011): 865–971; Carla Shedd, Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2015); see also Katherine Beckett and Naomi Murakawa, “Mapping the Shadow Car-ceral State: Toward an Institutionally Capacious Approach to Punishment,” Theoretical Criminology 16, no. 2 (2012): 221–44.

16 ) Ruha Benjamin

9. Eric Stanley and Nat Smith, Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (Oakland, CA: ak Press, 2015), 12.

10. For a discussion of the combination of “coercion and care” that characterizes what they call “carceral citizenship,” see Reuben Jonathan Miller and Forrest Stuart, “Carceral Citizenship: Race, Rights and Responsibility in the Age of Mass Supervision,” Theoretical Criminology 21, no. 4 (2017): 532–48; see also Bruce Western, Punishment and In equality in Amer i ca (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006).

11. As po liti cal theorist Dilts cautions, “by focusing narrowly (on prisons, police, the death penalty, etc.) we also run the risk of abolishing institutions and practices but allowing their functions to thrive in a new and more deeply entrenched form.” Andrew Dilts, “To Build a World That Is Other wise: Andrew Dilts on Abolition,” Abolition Jour-nal, July 2, 2015, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// abolitionjournal . org / andrew – dilts – abolition – statement / . For an examination of felon disenfranchisement as a “produc-tive failure,” see also Andrew Dilts, Punishment and Inclusion: Race, Membership, and the Limits of American Liberalism (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014); Andrew Dilts and Perry Zurn, eds., Active Intolerance: Michel Foucault, the Prisons Information Group, and the Future of Abolition (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). For a discus-sion of how surveillance technologies turn “public agencies like schools and social ser vice offices into prisons,” see Eubanks, Automated In equality, 10; see also Cathy O’Neill, Weapons of Mass Destruction: How Big Data Increases In equality and Threatens Democracy (New York: Broadway, 2017).

12. Patricia J. Williams, Seeing a Color- Blind Future: The Paradox of Race (New York: Noonday, 1998), 4, emphasis added.

13. For an elaboration of the New Jim Code, see Ruha Benjamin, Race after Technol-ogy (Cambridge: Polity, 2019). See Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incar-ceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012).

14. Ruha Benjamin, “Innovating Inequity: If Race Is a Technology, Postracialism Is the Genius Bar,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 39, no. 13 (2016): 1–8.

15. Miriam Schulman, “ Little Brother Is Watching You,” Business and Society Review 100–101, no. 1 (1998): 65–69.

16. Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Seven Stories, 2011), 107.17. Coproduction, according to Jasanoff, “stresses the constant intertwining of the

cognitive, the material, the social, and the normative,” and “is not about ideas alone; it is equally about concrete, physical things.” Sheila Jasanoff, States of Knowledge: The Co- Production of Science and the Social Order (New York: Routledge, 2004), 6. See also Jenny Reardon, Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics (Prince ton, NJ: Prince ton University Press, 2002).

18. Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 7.

19. Browne, Dark Matters, 8–9; emphasis added.20. This focus builds upon Jasanoff and Kim’s notion of “sociotechnical imaginar-

ies,” collective imaginations of the future that “encode not only visions of what is at-

Introduction ( 17

tainable through science and technology, but also of how life ought, or ought not, to be lived; in this re spect they express a society’s shared understandings of good and evil” (4). As Jasanoff and Kim rightly note, competing imaginaries can coexist. In racial-ized socie ties, the hopes and capacities of some are routinely discredited in popu lar repre sen ta tions of pro gress or completely written out of futuristic visions, a kind of temporal penitentiary that locks the oppressed in a dystopic pres ent. But, as the vol-ume makes clear, counter- imaginaries persist and proliferate despite the odds. Sheila Jasanoff and Sang- Hyun Kim, Dreamscapes of Modernity: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

21. Brian Clifton, Sam Lavigne, Francis Tseng, “The White Collar Crime Risk Zones,” The New Inquiry Magazine 59, https:// whitecollar . thenewinquiry . com.

22. See the white paper by Brian Clifton, Sam Levigne, and Francis Tseng, https:// whitecollar . thenewinquiry . com / static / whitepaper . pdf

23. X. Wu and X. Zhang, “Automated Inference on Criminality Using Face Im-ages,” ai Technology and Industry Review, November 24, 2017, https:// medium . com / syncedreview / automated – inference – on – criminality – using – face – images – aec51c312cd0.

24. Emphasis added; Derrick A. Bell, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” Uni-versity of Illinois Law Review 1995: 893.

25. See Wacquant: “ Here penalization serves as a technique for the invisibilization of the social ‘prob lems’ that the state, as the bureaucratic lever of the collective will, no longer can or cares to treat at its roots, and the prison operates as a judicial garbage disposal into which the human refuse of the market society are thrown.” Wacquant, Punishing the Poor, xxii.

26. Heather Saul, “Homeless Spikes outside London Flats Spark Outrage on Twit-ter,” The In de pen dent, June 7, 2014, accessed January 25, 2018, http:// www . independent . co . uk / news / uk / home – news / homelessness – spikes – outside – london – flats – spark – outrage – on – twitter – 9506390 . html.

27. Henry Samuel, “French City Installs Anti- Homeless Cages around Benches,” The Telegraph, December 26, 2014, accessed January 25, 2018, http:// www . telegraph . co . uk / news / worldnews / europe / france / 11314081 / French – city – installs – anti – homeless – cages – around – benches . html.

28. Walter Johnson, “Ferguson’s Fortune 500 Com pany,” The Atlantic, April 26, 2015, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// www . theatlantic . com / politics / archive / 2015 / 04 / fergusons – fortune – 500 – company / 390492.

29. Todd D. Minton and Zhen Zheng, “Jail Inmates at Midyear 2014,” U.S. Depart-ment of Justice, June 2015, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// www . bjs . gov / content / pub / pdf / jim14 . pdf.

30. Nick Wing, “Our Bail System Is Leaving Innocent People to Die in Jail Because They’re Poor,” Justice Policy Institute, July 14, 2016, accessed January 25, 2018, http:// www . justicepolicy . org / news / 10585; see also Dean A. Dabney, Joshua Page, and Volkan Topalli, “American Bail and the Tinting of Criminal Justice,” The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 56, no. 4 (2017): 397–418.

18 ) Ruha Benjamin

31. According to Gilmore, “Racism, specifically, is the state- sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group- differentiated vulnerability to premature death.” Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crises, and Opposition in Globalizing California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 28.

32. “Black to the Future,” video archive, accessed at https:// blacktothefuture . princeton . edu / video / . Imani Perry’s question at 1 hr 27 m 29 sec.

33. Troy Duster, 1970. The Legislation of Morality: Law, Drugs, and Moral Judgement (New York: Free Press, 1970); Troy Duster, Backdoor to Eugenics, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2003); Troy Duster, “Race and Reification in Science,” Science 307, no. 5712 (2005): 1050–51; Troy Duster, “The Combustible Intersection: Genomics, Forensics, and Race,” in Race after the Internet, edited by Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow- White, 310–27 (New York: Routledge, 2012); Evelynn M. Hammonds, “New Technologies of Race,” in Pro cessed Lives: Gender and Technology in Everyday Life, edited by Melodie Calvery and Jennifer Terry, 74–85 (New York: Routledge, 1997); Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (New York: Vintage, 1999); Dorothy Roberts, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re- Create Race in the 21st  Century (New York: New Press, 2011).

34. Susan E. Bell and Anne E. Figert, Reimagining (Bio)Medicalization, Phar ma ceu ti cals, and Ge ne tics: Old Critiques and New Engagements (New York: Routledge, 2015); Catherine Bliss, Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford Univer-sity Press, 2012); Lundy Braun, Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Ge ne tics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014); Khiara M. Bridges, Terence Keel, and Osagie K. Obasogie, “Introduction: Critical Race Theory and the Health Sciences,” American Journal of Law and Medicine 43 (2017): 179–82; Melissa Creary, “Biocultural Citizenship and Embodying Exceptionalism: Bio-politics for Sickle Cell Disease in Brazil,” Social Science and Medicine 199 (2017): 123–31; Nadia A. El- Haj, “The Ge ne tic Reinscription of Race,” Annual Review of Anthropology 36 (2017): 283–300; Steven Epstein, Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Joan H. Fujimura and Ramya Rajagopa-lan, “Diff er ent Differences: The Use of ‘Ge ne tic Ancestry’ versus Race in Biomedical Human Ge ne tic Research,” Social Studies of Science 41, no. 1 (2010): 5–30; Duana Full-wiley, “The Biologistical Construction of Race: ‘Admixture’ Technology and the New Ge ne tic Medicine,” Social Studies of Science 38, no. 5 (2008): 695–735; Jonathan Kahn, Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post- Genomic Age (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014); Michael J. Montoya, “Bioethnic Conscription: Genes, Race, and Mexicana/o Ethnicity in Diabetes Research,” Cultural Anthropology 22, no. 1 (2007): 94–128; Ann Morning, The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach and Human Difference (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011); Alondra Nelson, Social Life of dna: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome (New York: Bea-con Press, 2016); Aaron Panofsky, Misbehaving Science: Controversy and the Development of Be hav ior Ge ne tics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014); Reardon, Race to the Finish; Sarah S. Richardson and Hallam Stevens, Postgenomics: Perspectives on Biology

Introduction ( 19

after the Genome (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015); Ernesto Schwartz- Marin and Peter Wade, “Explaining the Vis i ble and the Invisible: Public Knowledge of Ge ne-tics, Ancestry, Physical Appearance, and Race in Colombia,” Social Studies of Science 45, no. 6 (2015): 886–906; Kim TallBear, Native American dna: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Ge ne tic Science (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013); Charis Thompson, Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies (Cambridge, MA: mi t Press, 2007); Peter Wade, Carlos López Beltrán, Eduardo Re-strepo, and Ricardo Ventura Santos, Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin Amer i ca (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Johnny Eric Williams, Decoding Racial Ideology in Genomics (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016).

35. Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star, Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (Cambridge, MA: mi t Press, 2000); Wendy H. K. Chun, “Race and/as Technology or How to Do Things with Race,” in Race After the Internet, edited by Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow- White, 38–69 (New York: Routledge, 2011); Adele Clarke, Laura Mamo, Jennifer Ruth Fosket, Jennifer R. Fishman, and Janet K. Shim, Biomedi-calization: Technoscience, Health, and Illness in the U.S. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Beth Coleman, “Race as Technology,” Camera Obscura 24, no. 1 (2009): 177–207; Marie Hicks, Programmed In equality: How Britain Discarded Women Technolo-gists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (Cambridge, MA: mi t Press, 2017); David S. Jones and Ian Whitmarsh, eds., What ’s the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference (Cambridge, MA: mi t Press, 2010); Lisa Nakamura, Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet (New York: Routledge, 2002); Lisa Nakamura, Digitizing Race (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008); Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York: ny u Press, 2018); Frank Pasquale, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014); Anne Pollock, Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012); Janet K. Shim, Heart- Sick: The Politics of Risk, In equality, and Heart Disease (New York: ny u Press, 2014); Keith Wailoo, Alondra Nelson, and Catherine Lee, Ge ne tics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of dna , Race, and History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012).

36. For example, Philip and colleagues describe postcolonial computing as “a bag of tools that affords us contingent tactics for continual, careful, collective, and always partial reinscriptions of a cultural– technical situation in which we all find ourselves.” Kavita Philip, Lilly Irani, and Paul Dourish, “Postcolonial Computing: A Tactical Survey,” Science, Technology, and Human Values 37, no. 1 (2012): 3. See also André Brock, “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation,” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 56, no. 4 (2012): 529–49, and André Brock, Lynette Kvasny, and Kayla Hales, “Cultural Appropriations of Technical Capital: Black Women, Weblogs, and the Digital Divide,” Information, Communication, and Society 13, no. 7 (2010): 1040–59, on “cultural appropriations of technical capital”; Ron Eglash, Jennifer L. Croissant, Giovanna Di Chiro, and Rayvon Fouché, Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science

20 ) Ruha Benjamin

and Social Power (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), on “appropriating technology ”; Rayvon Fouché, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud: African Ameri-cans, American Artifactual Culture, and Black Vernacular Technological Creativity,” American Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2013): 639–61, on “black vernacular technological creativ-ity ”; Alondra Nelson, Thuy Linh N. Tu, and Alicia Hedlam Hines, eds., Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (New York: ny u Press, 2001), and Laura Mamo and Jennifer Fishman, “Why Justice? Introduction to the Special Issue on Entanglements of Science, Ethics, and Justice,” Science, Technology, and Human Values 38, no. 2 (2013): 159–75, on “justice and sts ”; Banu Subramaniam, Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2014), on feminist approaches to the life sciences; Miriam E. Sweeney and André Brock, “Critical Informatics: New Methods and Practices,” Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology 51, no. 1 (2014): 1–8, on “critical informatics,” among others. Ron Eglash, et al., Appropriating Technology.

37. danah boyd and Kate Crawford, “Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a Cultural, Technological, and Scholarly Phenomenon,” Information, Communication and Society 15, no. 5 (2012): 662–79; Sarah Brayne, “Surveillance and System Avoidance: Criminal Justice Contact and Institutional Attachment,” American So cio log i cal Review 79, no. 3: 367–91 (2014); Sarah Brayne, “Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing,” American So cio log i cal Review 82, no. 5 (2017): 997–1008; Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement (New York: ny u Press, 2017); Keith Guzik, “Discrimination by Design: Predictive Data Mining as Security Practice in the United States’ ‘War on Terrorism,’ ” Surveillance and Society 7, no. 1 (2009): 1–17; Bernard E. Harcourt, Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punish-ing in an Actuarial Age (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2006); Richard Hindmarsh and Barbara Prainsack, eds., Ge ne tic Suspects: Global Governance of Forensic dna Profiling and Databasing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Anthony Hatch and Kym Bradley, “Prisons Matter: Psychotropics and the Trope of Silence in Technocorrec-tions,” in Mattering: Feminism, Science, and Materialism, ed. Victoria Pitts- Taylor, 224–40 (New York: ny u Press, 2016); Elizabeth E. Joh, “The New Surveillance Discretion: Automated Suspicion, Big Data, and Policing,” Harvard Law and Policy Review 10, no. 1 (2016): 15–42; Shiloh Krupar and Nadine Ehlers, “ ‘When Treating Patients Like Criminals Makes Sense’: Medical Hot Spotting, Race, and Debt,” in Subprime Health: The American Health- Care System and Race- Based Medicine, ed. Nadine Ehlers and Leslie Hinkson, 31–54 (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2017); David Lyon, ed., Surveillance as Social Sorting: Privacy, Risk, and Digital Discrimination (New York: Rout-ledge 2003); Peter K. Manning, The Technology of Policing: Crime Mapping, Information Technology, and the Rationality of Crime Control (New York: ny u Press, 2011); Gary T. Marx, Win dows into the Soul: Surveillance and Society in an Age of High Technology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016); Amade M’Charek, “Beyond Fact or Fiction: On the Materiality of Race in Practice,” Cultural Anthropology 28, no. 3 (2013): 420–42; Anne Pollock, “On the Suspended Sentences of the Scott Sisters: Mass Incarceration, Kidney

Introduction ( 21

Donation, and the Biopolitics of Race in the United States,” Science, Technology, and Human Values 40, no. 2 (2015): 250–71; Latanya Sweeney, “Discrimination in Online Ad Delivery,” Queue 11, no. 3 (2013): 10–29; Tufeki Zeynup, Twitter and Teargas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017).

38. Pollock, “On the Suspended Sentences of the Scott Sisters,” 15–16.39. Moya Bailey and Ayana A. H. Jamieson, “Palimpsests in the Life and Work of

Octavia E. Butler,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 6, no. 2 (2017): xi, emphasis added.

40. Many sts scholars have theorized the way that machines and other nonhumans exercise diff er ent forms of agency, narrating the blurred boundary between organisms and machines, showing how “myth and tool mutually constitute each other,” and calling for a multispecies approach to justice. Chen’s idea of animacy is to “theorize current anx i eties around the production of humanness in con temporary times. . . .  Animacy activates new theoretical formulations that trou ble and undo stubborn binary systems of difference, including dynamism/stasis, life/death, subject/object, speech/non-speech, human/animal, natu ral body/cyborg.” Mel Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 3. Relatedly, Haraway describes technologies as “frozen moments” that allow us to observe other-wise “fluid social interactions” at work. These “formalizations” are also instruments to enforce meaning, especially, I would add, racialized meanings that construct— not just reflect— the social world (302). Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Rein-vention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 302. See also Bruno Latour, “On Recalling ant,” So cio log i cal Review 47, no. s1 (1999): 15–25; Eben Kirsky, ed., The Multispecies Salon (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trou ble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).

41. Alexander Weheliye, Habeas Viscus: Racializing Asssemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 8.

42. Weheliye, Habeas Viscus, 3.43. Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, “Animal: New Directions in the Theorization of Race and

Posthumanism,” Feminist Studies 39, no. 3 (2013): 640, emphasis added. See also Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self- Making in Nineteenth- Century Amer-i ca (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Katherine McKittrick, ed., Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).

44. Bailey and Jamieson, “Palimpsests in the Life and Work of Octavia E. Butler,” vi.45. And for Wynter, the stakes are high: “all our pres ent strug les with re spect

to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, strug les over the environment, global warming, severe climate change, the sharply unequal distribution of the earth resources . . .  — these are all differing facets of the central ethnoclass Man vs Human strug le” (cf. Weheliye, Habeas Viscus, 29).

46. Nassim JafariNaimi, Lisa Nathan, and Ian Hargraves, “Values as Hypotheses: Design, Inquiry, and the Ser vice of Values,” Design Issues 31, no. 4 (2015): 38. See also

22 ) Ruha Benjamin

Nassim JafariNaimi, “Our Bodies in the Trolley’s Path, or Why Self- driving Cars Must *Not* Be Programmed to Kill,” Science, Technology, and Human Values, accessed Janu-ary 25, 2018, http:// journals . sagepub . com / doi / pdf / 10 . 1177 / 0162243917718942.

47. Alistair Gee, “More Than One- Third of Schoolchildren Are Homeless in Shadow of Silicon Valley,” The Guardian, December 28, 2016, accessed January 25, 2018, https:// www . theguardian . com / society / 2016 / dec / 28 / silicon – valley – homeless – east – palo – alto – california – schools.

48. As Atanasoski and Vora posit, the aim is to track “how historical forms of domi-nation and power, encompassing but not limited to social categories and hierarchies of difference, get built into seemingly non- human objects and the infrastructures that link them, thus sanitizing digital media [and a variety of other] technologies as human- free.” Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora. “Surrogate Humanity: Posthuman Networks and the (Racialized) Obsolescence of Labor,” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 1, no. 1 (2015): 5.

49. See Hyphen- Labs, http:// www . hyphen – labs . com / index . html.50. Jessica Charlesworth, “Primer 2017: A Speculative Futures Conference.” Core77,

March 21, 2017, accessed January 25, 2018, http:// www . core77 . com / posts / 63489 / Primer – 2017 – A – Speculative – Futures – Conference.

51. Michael Lachney, “Culturally Responsive Computing as Brokerage: Toward Asset Building with Education- Based Social Movements,” Learning, Media, and Technol-ogy 42, no. 4 (2016): 7.

52. For Ron Eglash’s “Community Informatics” proj ects, see http:// homepages . rpi . edu / ~eglash / eglash . dir / ci . htm.

53. Angela Y. Davis, The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues (San Fran-cisco: City Lights, 2012), 30.

54. Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Min-neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 31.

55. Alondra Nelson, Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medi-cal Discrimination (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 2013), xii.

56. Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Bea-con Press, 2003), xii; my emphasis.

57. American Sociologist Association. On Demand Content. http:// www . asanet . org / about – asa / asa – story / asa – history / past – asa – officers / past – asa – presidents / troy – duster.

58. See Donna Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575–99.

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