Moving Beyond Representation & Critique

Articles read: Week One on “Feminist Data Visualization” by Catherine D’Lgnazio, On the Limits of Critique (d’Ignazio) and the limits of representation (Barad) by Lee Mackinnon, and Post #3: After Critique and the Politics of Capta by Christina McPhee

Dialogue between these three academics raises issues of critique and representation. D’Lgnazio notes how academics often “point out oppression and leave it there, deconstruct everything then” say goodbye. Mackinnon’s response states that this idea is what has been explored as the “limits of critique” —like meta-critique. I’ve noticed the limitation of critique in many academic texts that critique or deconstruct societal hierarchies. The limitations of critique can be harmful to feminism because the end result often leaves the reader of these texts with little hope— aware of injustice, but not quite sure how to move forward. D’Lgnazio advocates for moving beyond deconstruction and operationalizing these critiques, connecting her writing to FemTech: where theory is put into practice.

Mackinnon brings up the idea of post-representation which caught my attention. As a student who studies media, I am aware of how representations are framed, deconstructing content specifically to point out the dangers of representation. Because I am aware of this, it becomes very easy to identify dominant readings in media (often rolling my eyes at them). Mackinnon’s comment on post-representation brings up an interesting topic to explore: could post-representation be along the lines of denaturalizing representation (as Stuart Hall mentions)? Denaturalization would help disassemble representation so that nothing is considered normative, moving us beyond representation. McPhee proposes the ideas of Drucker, who says that visualization can both call attention to representation in graphical and critical ways, but also undo the belief system suggests the world can be fixed or stable. 

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