by Laura Forlano and Danya Glabau

A concise introduction to cyborg theory that examines the way in which technology is situated, political, and embodied.

This introduction to cyborg theory provides a critical vantage point for analyzing the claims around emerging technologies like automation, robots, and AI. Cyborg analyzes and reframes popular and scholarly conversations about cyborgs from the perspective of feminist cyborg theory. Drawing on their combined decades of training, teaching, and research in the social sciences, design, and engineering education, Laura Forlano and Danya Glabau introduce an approach called critical cyborg literacy. Critical cyborg literacy foregrounds power dynamics and pays attention to the ways that social and cultural factors such as gender, race, and disability shape how technology is imagined, developed, used, and resisted.

Forlano and Glabau offer critical cyborg literacy as a way of thinking through questions about the relationship between humanity and technology in areas such as engineering and computing, art and design, and health care and medicine, as well as the social sciences and humanities. Cyborg examines whether modern technologies make us all cyborgs—if we consider, for instance, the fact that we use daily technologies at work, have technologies embedded into our bodies in health care applications, or use technology to critically explore possibilities as artists, designers, activists, and creators. Lastly, Cyborg offers perspectives from critical race, feminist, and disability thinkers to help chart a path forward for cyborg theory in the twenty-first century.

Series Overview: The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series offers accessible, concise, beautifully produced books on topics of current interest. Written by leading thinkers, the books in this series deliver expert overviews of subjects that range from the cultural and the historical to the scientific and the technical. In today’s era of instant information gratification, we have ready access to opinions, rationalizations, and superficial descriptions. Much harder to come by is the foundational knowledge that informs a principled understanding of the world. Essential Knowledge books fill that need. Synthesizing specialized subject matter for nonspecialists and engaging critical topics through fundamentals, each of these compact volumes offers readers a point of access to complex ideas.

Paperback | 222 pages | The MIT Press | 2024

Laura Forlano is a social scientist and design researcher. She is an Associate Professor of Design at the Institute of Design and Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology where she is Director of the Critical Futures Lab. Her research is focused on the aesthetics, ethics and politics at the intersection between design and technology with respect to futures and material practices of work and urbanism. She is co-editor with Marcus Foth, Christine Satchell and Martin Gibbs of From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen: Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement (MIT Press 2011). She received her Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University.

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