Collaborative Discussion of Numbered Lives by Jacqueline Wernimont

Image of the book cover of Numbered Lives by Jacqueline Wernimont

A Note from Adashima Oyo, HASTAC Scholars Director

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with HASTAC Scholars on a collaborative book discussion of Numbered Lives: Life and Death in Quantum Media by Professor Jacqueline Wernimont. Earlier this year, in February, an announcement was sent out to all HASTAC Scholars to assess interests for participation. There were no special requirements to participate in the project. HASTAC Scholars were invited to discuss the entire book, a specific chapter or to conduct an interview with Wernimont. In total, 21 HASTAC Scholars expressed interest in participating. By early March, 15 HASTAC Scholars agreed to participate and MIT Press generously sent hard copies of the book to all HASTAC Scholars. To allow HASTAC Scholars enough time to read the book and identify what chapter(s) they prefer to discuss, HASTAC Scholars had eight weeks to confirm what chapter(s) they were discussing and to submit a review to our group discussion in google docs. After each HASTAC Scholar submitted a discussion post on their chapters, each HASTAC Scholars was paired with another to complete peer reviews. Three Scholars also completed interviews with Wernimont.

This was a wonderful project that allowed HASTAC Scholars from various disciplines and universities the opportunity to collectively share their ideas with each other and the larger HASTAC community. After you have read the discussion posts, I welcome you to leave comments and questions.

 

Collaborative Book Discussion Table of Contents

 

Numbered Lives: Kick Off Interview with Jacqueline Wernimont (Nehal El-Hadi and Jon Heggestad)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Introduction (Jon Heggestad)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Introduction and Conclusion (Rebecca Uliasz)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 2: Counting the Dead (Sarah Richardson)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 2: Counting the Dead (Rachel V. Willis)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 3: We Don't Do Body Counts (Ashley Hemm)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 4: Every Step You Take (Molly Mann)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 4: Every Step You Take (Linda Luu)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 5: From Surveying Land to Surveilling Man (Leelan Farhan)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 5: From Surveying Land to Surveilling Man (John Murray)

 

Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 5: From Surveying Land to Surveilling Man (Lia Tarachansky)

 

What Counts as a Valuable Body (Discussion of Numbered Lives, Ch 5; Sarah Ciston)

 

Numbered Lives Follow-Up Interview with Jacqueline Wernimont (Molly Mann)

 

About Numbered Lives

Summary from the MIT Press website:

A feminist media history of quantification, uncovering the stories behind the tools and technologies we use to count, measure, and weigh our lives and realities.

Anglo-American culture has used media to measure and quantify lives for centuries. Historical journal entries map the details of everyday life, while death registers put numbers to life's endings. Today we count our daily steps with fitness trackers and quantify births and deaths with digitized data. How are these present-day methods for measuring ourselves similar to those used in the past? In this book, Jacqueline Wernimont presents a new media history of western quantification, uncovering the stories behind the tools and technologies we use to count, measure, and weigh our lives and realities.

Numbered Lives is the first book of its kind, a feminist media history that maps connections not only between past and present-day “quantum media” but between media tracking and long-standing systemic inequalities. Wernimont explores the history of the pedometer, mortality statistics, and the census in England and the United States to illuminate the entanglement of Anglo-American quantification with religious, imperial, and patriarchal paradigms. In Anglo-American culture, Wernimont argues, counting life and counting death are sides of the same coin—one that has always been used to render statistics of life and death more valuable to corporate and state organizations. Numbered Lives enumerates our shared media history, helping us understand our digital culture and inheritance.

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