I have begun work towards my goals of narrative recovery and methodological process in my dissertation, which focuses on a qualitative recovery and analysis of gendered and othered labor within the early development of the critical infrastructure technology of electricity and electrical plugs. My analysis utilizes theories on the commodification and fetishization of communications technologies and workers, as well as scholarship on gendered performance and labor, particularly affective labor theory. Using these theories as a catalyst, my research looks for evidence in the residue of gendered, othered or fetishized labor within historical documents, records, and educational practices. I use texts, such as editorials in Ladies’ Home Journal, to discuss the ways in which labor practices of using and creating the technology of the electrical socket is distinctly gendered, and how these labor practices and associated ideological constructs become embedded in the very technology itself. Yet, these practices and ideologies have become erased and/or imperceptible via naturalization, which greatly affects the ways in which we understand and mythologize the technology’s history as well as its role in larger, multinational critical infrastructure. Further, it directly impacts technology today through not only establishing these gendered and othered labor practices as naturalized precedents, but also through
the development and employment of institutional technique, which orders our daily lives and perceptions of the world.
I plan to transform my dissertation into a book with a precise focus on women and electrical technologies. However, I see this book as a starting point for future research that builds upon the foundational ideas of practices and ideologies embedded within contemporary technologies and historical narratives, and the relationship between technique, labor and cultural identities in conversation with the use of modern educational technology.