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Winifred Poster

Winifred Poster

NIAS Theme Group Fellow

Project title

The Security Labor of Managing Digital Bodies: Women’s Techno-Affective Work for the State in the US and India

Project description

How can a deeper understanding of individuals in the security labor force shape the future of security work? There are myriad examples of how, in general, descriptions of security labour in the media tend to villainize or heroize the workers, criticising them as lazy and uneducated, or, celebrating them as patriotic and brave. This NIAS Theme Group will bring their own deeply informed practices and varied viewpoints regarding the global security enterprise to our collaborative investigation. 

As member of the theme group, Winifred Poster aims to explore how and why women are often recruited to do the labor of handling digital bodies. Despite the fact that tech and military domains have been traditionally dominated by men, women are brought in to be the interface between them. Winifred argues it reflects formations of techno-affective labor for the state. Specifically, it represents the convergence of databased strategies in the security industry, with women’s historical rootedness in interpersonal tasks, identity management, and dirty work for the state. Implications lie in the way their labor assists the surveillance of crossers and the obfuscation of borders themselves. Evidence from the US and India, and the security industries across them, provides material for this analysis.

Selected publications

Multi-surveillances: Transnational Digital Agency in the Outsourced Services of Indian Call Centers, Forthcoming with MIT Press

Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World. Marion G. Crain, Winifred R. Poster, and Miriam A. Cherry, eds., University of California Press, 2016

Borders in Service: Enactments of Nation in Transnational Call Centers. Kiran Mirchandani and Winifred R. Poster, eds., University of Toronto Press, 2016