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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bodies Into Bits: A Reparative Approach to Informationalizing the Body


There is a longstanding conflict between information and matter, a tension which is highly evident within the discipline of information studies today. The proliferation of digital archives and libraries has raised challenging questions about the relationship between the informational and material qualities of objects. In a world in which everything is becoming digital, the turn to privilege the informational content of objects over their material presence raises concerns about originality and authenticity, ownership and authorship. Bodies, like archival records or books, are information objects. It is not surprising, then, in this cultural moment, that a plethora of research, dialogue, and art focuses on the changing role of the body in the information age. But though it is common to associate information and the body through contemporary digital technologies, this paper is predicated on the argument that this relationship in fact long precedes our ability to turn bodies into bits.

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