A Feminist Technoscience Virtual Reality Reading List

As a follow up to my previous post, I wanted to share some of the things I am reading, listening to, following, and experiencing (that’s the verb for “watching” in VR) as we develop the PIP (Practically In Person) exhibition. I’ve added some light annotations to help non-STS scholars get a sense of what these authors and titles all mean. I’ve also leaned more on “the classics” so that non-scholars can dip their toes into some of the debates right at the source. Yes, there is a politics to this.

Image credit for this post goes to Panteha Abareshi, a young artist involved in the PIP collective. This image is also featured on the PIP site, linked to above. Panteha describes her art this way: “My work is first and foremost an expression of my emotions and struggles, as well as my desire to increase the representation of WOC in artwork and to de-stigmatize mental illness. I draw what I feel, and my art is a way of expressing what I can’t otherwise articulate.”

Contact me if you need help tracking anything down.

How to Tell Stories about Technoscience

Who tells stories about technoscience? What are the narrative frameworks we use to investigate and tell those stories?

Feminist Technoscience Studies

The big question here is, what does it mean to see as a woman?

Who Controls Technology? 

A couple of STS classics that are always in the back of my mind.

  • Langdon Winner – Do Artefacts Have Politics?
    • Classic STS article that argues that technologies can have inbuilt politics that exert agency on human society. His examples all concern ways that technologies produce oppression.
  • Wiebe Bijker and Trevor Pinch – The Social Construction of Facts and Artifact
    • Shout out to Trevor, who was DGS while I was at Cornell STS for grad school. Nicely lays out what “social construction” means as a framework for understanding emerging technologies, with illustrative case studies and diagrams. It also comes at things from a social history perspective, which emphasizes telling stories “from below” – in this case, how users exert influence on technologies despite the intentions of designers.


Cyborgs resist origin myths and take pleasure in disrupting boundaries.


Some VR groups and non-scholarly artifacts I’ve been exploring.

  • Notes on Blindness
    • A visually and sonically beautiful, moving, free, ~30 minute VR experience you can even use on your smartphone with a Google Cardboard apparatus. Experience blindness. The best use of VR I’ve seen so far.
  • Sunchaser Entertainment – Kanju
    • Close runner up, with a postcolonial politics inspired by the metaphor of Africa as “the bright continent.” Thoughtfully executed immersive storytelling. Reach out to them to find out how to get your hands on it.
  • Dayna Evans, for The Cut – In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
    • Curious how just this month Codebreaker, public radio staple Marketplace’s tech podcast, ran a podcast episode with NO women VR developers or scholars. The only women were an elderly woman who were ill and her daughter taking care of her. This is EMPHATICALLY NOT the full story about what women’s participation in VR looks like.
  • Women in VR Meetup Group
    • Self-explanatory. See above again.
  • Volumetric Meetup Group
    • Hardware hackers, VR, AR, cyborgs, digital embodiment… not sure what their mission is but their programming is great!
  • Voice of VR Podcast
    • Kent Bye’s perspective on the potential for VR is really terrific, and it doesn’t shy away from getting technical with experts in the field.

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