Informatics Seminar Series
Winter Quarter 2021

Friday, February 19, 2021

“Hobbyists: The Historical Roots of White Geek Masculinity”

Aaron Trammell
Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics
UC Irvine

This presentation will argue that in order to understand the normalization of whiteness in digital culture—as Kishonna Gray, Safiya Noble, and Ruha Benjamin have argued—we must better understand the people who constitute the cultures that work closely with digital technology. I look toward hobby games and hobbyists to recuperate a more complete genealogical understanding of white masculinity in geek culture. As a method, genealogy helps to reveal the complex and often counterintuitive ways that subjectivity is produced, normalized, and made invisible. My historical work shows that unlike the Irish—who cast themselves as white in order to gain social privilege in America’s racist society —hobbyists see themselves as outsiders. The denial of white male privilege established by hobbyists continues to define the socio-technical space of geek culture today.

Aaron Trammell is an Assistant Professor of Informatics and Core Faculty in Visual Studies at UC Irvine. He graduated from the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information in 2015 and spent a year at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC as a postdoctoral researcher. Aaron’s research looks at the persistence of analog games in today's digital world. He is interested in how political and social ideology is integrated in the practice of game design and how these perspectives are negotiated within the imaginations of players. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Analog Game Studies and the Multimedia Editor of Sounding Out!

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