Proxies: the cultural work of standing in

Hosted by Department of Media and Communications

Online public event


Dr Tarleton Gillespie

Dr Tarleton Gillespie

Dr Cait McKinney

Dr Cait McKinney

Dr Dylan Mulvin

Dr Dylan Mulvin


Professor Lee Edwards

Professor Lee Edwards

Join us for the launch of Dylan Mulvin’s new book, Proxies: The Cultural Work of Standing In.

Our world is built on an array of standards we are compelled to share. In Proxies, Mulvin examines how we arrive at those standards, asking, To whom and to what do we delegate the power to stand in for the world? Mulvin shows how those with the power to design technology, in the very moment of design, are allowed to imagine who is included—and who is excluded—in the future. Mulvin also explores the ways technologies, standards, and infrastructures inescapably reflect the cultural milieus of their bureaucratic homes. Drawing on archival research, he investigates some of the basic building-blocks of our shared infrastructures. He tells the history of technology through the labour and communal practices of, among others, the people who clean kilograms to make the metric system run, the women who pose as test images, and the actors who embody disease and disability for medical students. Each case maps the ways standards and infrastructure rely on prototypical ideas of whiteness, able-bodiedness, and purity to control and contain the messiness of reality.

Meet our speakers and chair

Tarleton Gillespie (@TarletonG) is a Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, part of the Social Media Collective research team studying the impact of information technology on social and political life. His most recent book is Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media. Tarleton also retains an affiliated Associate Professor position with Cornell University, where he has been on the faculty for nearly two decades.

Cait McKinney (@caitmckinney) is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. They are the author of Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies, and their research specialises in sexuality studies, media history, feminist media studies, and activist media. 

Dylan Mulvin (@dwmulvin) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He writes about the history and cultural dynamics of media technologies.

Lee Edwards is Professor of Strategic Communications and Public Engagement in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Director of Graduate Studies and Programme Director for the MSc Strategic Communications. 

More about this event

The Department of Media and Communications (@MediaLSE) is a world-leading centre for education and research in communication and media studies at the heart of LSE’s academic community in central London. The Department is ranked #1 in the UK and #3 globally in the field of media and communications (2021 QS World University Rankings).

You can order the book, Proxies: The Cultural Work of Standing In (UK delivery only), from our official LSE Events independent book shop, Pages of Hackney.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEMediaProxies

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Proxies: the cultural work of standing in.

A video of this event is available to watch at Proxies: the cultural work of standing in.

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