Juliana Friend

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9531

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Friend, Juliana G., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Informationalizing Desire: Exploring Digital Personhood and International Development through Senegalese Sex-Education Pedagogies,' supervised by Dr. Lawrence Cohen

My dissertation explores transformations in sex-education pedagogies in Senegal. I ask, how do state and NGO development projects use digital media to craft moral sexual subjects? How do these public health initiatives employ digital technologies as technologies of the self, when both Senegalese youth and many media scholars have argued that the use of digital technologies may radically transform ‘the self’ as such? The stakes are high for postcolonial statecraft, as Senegal’s aspirations toward ‘Senegalese exceptionalism’ rest in part on stand-out public health statistics. I conduct fieldwork with two designated ‘vulnerable populations’ with very different relationships to the Senegalese state. Gay men are clandestine recipients of biopolitical investment, while teen girls are highly mediatized symbols of national progress. In doing so, I revisit conventional stories about biopolitics and the self-directed subject. My point of departure is an apparent paradox: Senegalese state and NGO sex-ed initiatives attempt to transform youth designated as ‘vulnerable populations’ into modern sexual subjects by training them to be purveyors of biomedical information. Yet, as technologies and bodies become intertwined new ways, NGO/state pedagogies may actually ‘informationalize’ youth bodies themselves. I explore how the division between bodies and information is made and unmade through digital media practices, with what consequences for youth bodies and the national futures for which these bodies stand. In doing so, I revisit conventional stories about biopolitics and the self-directed subject.