It was my pleasure to give a keynote at the Library Research Seminar VII event last week in Columbia, South Carolina. This event is sponsored by the American Library Association's Library Research Roundtable (LRRT), and was a really generative and generous space to brainstorm about research with LIS students, practitioners, and scholars of all kinds.
A big thank you to all who planned and executed this event, and much gratitude for inviting me to come share ideas with this warm community!
Cite as: Melissa Villa-Nicholas & Miriam E. Sweeney (2019) Designing the “good citizen” through Latina identity in USCIS’s virtual assistant “Emma”, Feminist Media Studies, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2019.1644657
I had a wonderful time presenting with my research partner Melissa Villa-Nicholas on one of our projects about Latina AI at the Harvard Kennedy School on March 25th. Our talk focused on "Emma", the Latina virtual assistant used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a part of their e-government services. This presentation explores the cultural affordances of Latina identity as a strategic design choice in the Emma interface that extends citizenship and nation-building projects for the state, while masking underlying information and data gathering capabilities.
We were privileged to have Dana Chisnell, co-director of the Center for Civic Design, serve as a moderator for our talk. We felt very welcome, thanks largely to all of the hard work and planning of Vanessa Rhinesmith, the Associate Director of digitalHKS. Thank you to everyone who came and talked with us about the politics and surveillance implications of digital technologies designed to gather information about Latinx communities.
*Watch for our paper, "Designing the ‘good citizen’ through Latina identity in USCIS’s virtual assistant ‘Emma'", in Feminist Media Studies forthcoming later in 2019.