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Technoecologies of Birth Control: Biopolitics by Design

This dissertation offers a critical engagement with design’s implication in the ontological constitution of gendered, racialized, subjugated bodies. To do so, it starts from a broad understanding of design as an activity that articulates modes of being in the world — and that, in so doing, also shapes itself. This approach is grounded on an interrogation of the political motives that permeate and inform design processes; I take particular interest in how these have been manifested throughout the history of birth control technology.
Starting from this background, I outline and propose the concept of technoecologies of birth control — that is, spaces that emerge through the performances of co-constitutive material-semiotic actors, for the purposes of birth control. Throughout this dissertation, I identify two fundamental sets of actors operating within the technoecological space: bodies and things. The co-constitution of these actors is realized across historically, geopolitically, socioculturally, technoscientifically located performances; as such, technoecological actors are approached as relational, contextual and mutually structuring entities.
This conceptualization of technoecologies of birth control is informed by feminist and decolonial theories, and posits that these spaces are crucial for the establishment and sedimentation of biopolitical regimes of domination. Design is thoroughly implicated in the emergence of technoecologies of birth control, as it holds a crucial role in the management and regulation of bodies characteristic of biopolitical regimes of domination. In other words, design inscribes ontological meaning onto some bodies in detriment of others; it is with the sedimentation of these conditions that bodies become coded as ‘naturally’ or ‘fundamentally’ different. The constitution of difference amongst material-semiotic actors in technoecologies of birth control is thus articulated by design; in other words, it is the result of a planned, deliberate inscription of ontological meaning.
My interrogation of design’s role in the constitution of subjugated bodies occurs within the scope of these technoecologies. Starting from this framework, I discuss the insights offered by a series of experiments (‘Yarn Sessions’ and 'Oniria') conceived as both explorations of the technoecological space, and speculations on the instability of the social constitution of bodies by design. My theorization of technoecologies of birth control happens, thus, through a process of research through design — that is, a process in which theory and practice are deployed as mutually informing forces in design research. Through the analysis of these design experiments, I propose three fundamental aspects of the performances of material-semiotic actors within technoecologies of birth control: relativity, opacity, and duplicity.

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Technoecologies of Birth Control
Universität der Künste Berlin