“Baloney Detection” in the era of “fake news”
In attempting to help my students (and extended family) recognize these categories more responsibly — preferably before they share them — I think it’s useful to remember Carl Sagan’s chapter on “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection” from 1996.
Privacy, autonomy, and birth control in America, 1860-1900
Access to birth control became, controversially, protected by the “right to privacy” in 1965; a hundred years before, “procreation was a matter of public concern.” Yet, contradictorily and confusingly, Victorian women — and their bodies — were protected (and limited) by a powerful social division between private and public spheres.
Victorian domestic specialization and gender roles
As the Victorian version of separate spheres solidified in the mid-nineteenth century, the “idea of wifely sainthood gained ever more credence as housewives found themselves increasingly isolated from the male-operated world.”
Franz Neumann on the importance of history to freedom
Freedom, argues Franz Neumann, requires several kinds of knowledge (historical, for example), not simply the absence of state (or private) coercion — though that too is a necessary and critical element.
Surveillance and Sodomy in 1918 Sacramento
A “cleanup” of 1918 Sacramento resulted in an intensified “[p]olice surveillance of boardinghouses, brothels, pubs, and gambling houses” and effectively turned these areas — none of which were traditional domestic homes — into “semipublic” spaces.
Four useful analytic categories from science and technology studies
Science and technology studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary collection of analytic approaches. In his analysis of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Philip Doty pulls out four concepts from STS that he believes are particularly useful
Affirmative vs. passive privacy in domestic violence and abortion
A “passive” version of the right to privacy — the “right to be let alone” — creates challenges for advocates against domestic violence. A more “active” version provides a viable alternative.
Sex and Eugenics Sterilization
In looking through Johanna Schoen’s 2005 book, Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare, it appears that, although eugenics-based sterilization procedures in the early-to-mid twentieth century appear to have targeted women more than men, men were also sterilized through these programs.
Musings on law, technology, and privacy
I’ve been working on my dissertation for a few months now (it looks at American privacy law over some 150 years, and investigates how technology interacts with that law). Some of that work will emerge here in draft form eventually, but for now I’ve been thinking about the theoretical/critical framework for my work. Much of this framework will be implicit — since I’m writing a dissertation in history — but it will guide me nonetheless. It will develop throughout the writing process, but here are some initial thoughts.