GSISC 2020

Technologies and Race, Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Information Studies

The George Washington University, July 24th, 2020, Washington, DC

As organizers of the 2020 Gender & Sexuality in Information Studies Colloquium, we are actively monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our event scheduled for July 24th in Washington, D.C. We continue to hope that conditions will improve such that we can hold our event at George Washington University. Right now, we hope that the situation will improve such that GSISC 2020 can proceed as scheduled. We also know that this may not be possible. At this point, we are not canceling the event until we see how current measures take across the country will impact the spread of this virus. We plan to reassess this decision and share an update on April 15th.
We are also exploring options for facilitating virtual participation in any in-person event we hold, understanding that no matter what happens, such capacities will be essential.
We will share further information as things develop, with an update on April 15.

The Agenda is published.

This gathering seeks to create an inclusive space for difficult, fruitful conversations around technology, however defined, as it affects and is affected by race, gender, sexuality, and ability. We aim to foster conversations that consider “technology” as the expression of material cultures, labor, and embodiment; as well as sites of empowerment or oppression.

In libraries, and in the professional discourses of librarianship and information studies, we often talk about “technology” as a means to an end. Or, we speculate about technology as though it emanated from the horizon of a futurity that appears sometimes threatening, sometimes empowering, but always inevitable: e.g., artificial intelligence will “revolutionize” the ways we find and use information. Both kinds of discourse omit the ways technologies begin and end in the flesh — how technologies shape habits of body and mind, just as those habits influence the design and construction of technologies.

The planning committee for the 2020 Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies Colloquium invites you to continue these conversations July 24, 2020 in Washington, DC at George Washington University.

We invite proposals that address the problems, power, and potential of “technologies” in libraries and archives, past, present, and future, and seek a range of interpretations of the concept of technology.

Questions might include, but are not limited to:

  • How do search algorithms, metadata standards, and user interfaces challenge or reinforce white supremacy, heteronormative patriarchy, and ableism?
  • How do our catalogs, databases, finding aids, and collections disguise the traces of oppression, even while perpetuating the violence visited upon the oppressed?
  • How do we talk about the absence of voices (either in the historical record or from our present-day communities) that haunts the architecture and design of our systems?
  • How have technologies been used to selectively forget pasts to perpetuate certain futures? How are technologies used to unearth the forgotten?
  • How do we address the absent presence of laboring bodies behind our technologies, especially those bodies whose labor is devalued and poorly remunerated?
  • How do we begin to redress the inequities that library and information technologies perpetuate, where the default user is most often white and able-bodied, and whose architects, designers, and managers are most often white cis men?
  • What kinds of digital cultural memory and community-based projects are critical right now?

Registration is now available at

Please direct any questions or concerns to

Organizing committee:
Jen Brown, University of California, Berkeley
Emily Drabinski, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Leah Richardson, The George Washington University
Hannah Scates Kettler, Iowa State University
Kristan Shawgo, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dolsy Smith, The George Washington University
Tonia Sutherland, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Hannah Wang, Educopia Institute