Awarded 2016 / Active September 1, 2017 – August 31, 2019
The Precarity Lab team uses the notion of precarity to describe populations that have been disproportionately affected by the forms of inequality and insecurity generated, along with new affordances and possibilities, by digital technologies. Studying the way that precarity unfolds across disparate geographies and cultural practices in the digital age, lab members bring together a diverse set of sites and practices in their research, including the placement of Palestinian Internet cables, the manufacture of electronics by Navajo women, the deployment of drones on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the techno-cultural productions of Chinese makers. Using the notion of “thick humanities” to evoke a claim for central place of the humanities in large-scale and multi-sited research, team members will explore how these sites and practices are related to each other, interrogating the connections and frictions among them, and seeking to understand how they are configured by larger flows of capital, bodies, cultural practices, trade, and labor. Team members anticipate that the research will produce a multi-authored monograph and digital-born critical mapping project.
Lisa Nakumara, Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Culture, is the project’s principal investigator, and the Precarity Lab’s research team includes Professor Irina Aristarkhova (Stamps School of Art and Design), Professor Anna Watkins Fisher (American Culture and the Residential College), Professor Tung-Hui Hu (English and the Zell Writers’ Program), Professor Silvia Lindtner (School of Information), and graduate students Iván Chaar-López (American Culture) and Meryem Kamil (American Culture).