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CGI Child Pornography, Carcerality, and Queer Viewing

Mitali Thakor (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

In 2013, an international NGO announced the results of its sting operation to entrap would-be “pedophiles” using a computer-generated 3D-avatar of a 10 year-old Filipina girl. The NGO claimed over 1,000 men were reported to police for soliciting the avatar to undress and perform sexual acts via webcam. The project simultaneously drew praise from anti-trafficking organizations and alarm from privacy rights groups. My ongoing research explores how activists, computer scientists, and law enforcement officials negotiate their relationships to sex trafficking via imaging technologies and discourses of carceral control. I use Queer STS to examine what issues of representation, othering, and expertise are embedded within CGI interventions. How do we make sense of the hyper-visible, racialized, and gendered body of such avatars? Of the invisible and privileged bodies of computer scientists making the avatars work, and the queered “pedophiles” lurking at the tail end of a carceral chain of surveillance?

View Mitali’s discussion online. Tune in from 9.15am-9.30am EST Saturday 6 December for the live-stream.


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 Mitali Thakor Sabra Thorner Migual Diaz Barriga Thet Win Brent Luvaas el-Sayed el-Aswad Barbara Hoffman Jessika Tremblay Kendall Roark Aaron Thornburg 

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