Public Lecture Series: Critical Perspectives on Technology

Technologies invade our everyday lives, take part in constructing our identity, classify (often violently) bodies, and, pushed by recent regulations on social distancing, play an expanding role in connecting families and friends.  The effects of this rapid increase of technological dependency, though, further exacerbate existing inequalities, introduce new ones, but also lead to previously less apparent pockets of freedom. 

In a series of biweekly talks, the project “Exceptional Norms”, part of the HCI Group of the Faculty of Informatics at TU Wien, invites interested audiences to participate in critically engaging with recent scholarship on technology assessment. 

Our speakers are trailblazing scholars and internationally renowned experts from a range of (inter)disciplinary standpoints in conversation with Austrian researchers as hosts. 

Please register for this free lecture series (held on Zoom) here.


October 29th, 2020 – 4pm (CEST, Vienna) – Neha Kumar (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Naveena Karusala (University of Washington)

Braving Citational Justice within Human-Computer Interaction


Central to the sharing of knowledge are citations, and how, why, and where citations are used has been an intense subject of study across disciplines. We discuss the politics of knowledge production within HCI, drawing on parallels from related fields, as well as reflecting on our own experiences of being cited and not cited, citing and not citing. We also present recommendations for making concrete changes across the individual and structural in HCI, related to how we view citations, and how we might move ourselves towards the idea of citational justice.


Neha Kumar is an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she conducts research at the intersection of human-centered computing and global development. She is learning to cite justly.
Naveena Karusala is a fourth year PhD student in the ICTD lab at University of Washington. Her work is at the intersection of HCI, global development, and health messaging. Her ideal world is one in which we do not value a work or individual by citation count.

with DI Marlene Wagner and Dr. Nima TaheriNejad (both TU Wien) as conversation partners.

Future Talks

Thursday 12.11. — Alex Ahmed (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)

Thursday 26.11. — Angelika Strohmayer (Northumbria University, UK)

Thursday 10.12. — Selma Šabanović (Indiana University Bloomington, USA) 

Thursday 14.01. — Bo Ruberg (University of Irvine, USA)

Thursday 28.01. — Kishonna Gray (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)


October 15th, 2020 – 4pm (CEST, Vienna) – Roos Hopman (University of Amsterdam)

The face as folded object: race and the problems with ‘progress’ in forensic DNA phenotyping


Forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP) encompasses an emerging set of technologies aimed at predicting phenotypic characteristics from DNA in order to help identify unknown suspects. Advocates of FDP present it as the future of forensics, the ultimate goal of these techniques being the production of complete, individualized facial composites based on DNA. With the promise of individuality and the advancement of technology comes the assumption that modern methods are steadily moving away from racial science. Yet in the quantification of physical differences, FDP practices build upon particular nineteenth and twentieth century scientific practices that measured and categorized human variation in terms of race. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in various genetic laboratories, in this talk I therefore complicate a linear temporal approach to scientific progress. Building on the notion of the folded object as developed by Amade M’charek, I bring into focus how race comes about in these practices as a consequence of temporal folds.


Roos Hopman is a researcher at the anthropology department of the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests are in (population) genetics, forensics, and race. Currently she is a PhD candidate in the ERC-funded RaceFaceID project, which ethnographically studies the ir/relevance of race in forensic identification technologies. Her particular focus is on forensic DNA phenotyping, a set of technologies used to infer physical characteristics from biological traces.

with Dr. Simone Kriglstein (Universität Wien) as conversation partner.