Research

Book: Beyond Imported Magic

*2016 Amsterdamska Award from the European Society for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)

From MIT Press:

"The essays in this volume study the creation, adaptation, and use of science and technology in Latin America...[and] describe not only alternate pathways for innovation, invention, and discovery but also how ideas and technologies circulate in Latin American contexts and transnationally. The contributors' explorations of these issues, and their examination of specific Latin American experiences with science and technology, offer a broader, more nuanced understanding of how science, technology, politics, and power interact in the past and present."

This co-edited volume was linked to an NSF-funded workshop of the same name that took place on the Indiana University campus in August 2012. More information about the workshop is available at: magic.indiana.edu.

Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America is available for order at Amazon.com and MIT Press. All chapters are available on Project MUSE.

 

Book: Cybernetic Revolutionaries

*2012 Edelstein Prize for outstanding book in the history of technology

*2012 Computer History Museum Prize for outstanding book in the history of computing

*2014 Book Prize of the Recent History and Memory Section of the Latin American Studies Association (Honorable Mention)

From MIT Press:

"In Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina tells the history of two intersecting utopian visions, one political and one technological. The first was Chile's experiment with peaceful socialist change under Salvador Allende; the second was the simultaneous attempt to build a computer system managing Chile's economy. Neither vision was fully realized--Allende's government ended with a violent military coup; the system, known as Project Cybersyn, was never completely implemented--but they hold lessons for today about the relationship between technology and politics.

Medina, drawing on extensive archival material and interviews, examines the cybernetic system envisioned by the Chilean government--which was to feature holistic system design, decentralized management, human-computer interaction, a national telex network, real-time control of the growing industrial sector, and modeling the behavior of dynamic systems. She also describes, and documents withphotographs, the network's Star Trek-like operations room, which featured swivel chairs with armrest control panels, a wall of screens displaying data, and flashing red lights to indicate economic emergencies.

Studying project Cybersyn today helps us understand not only the technological ambitions of a government in the midst of political change but also the limitations of the Chilean revolution. At the same time, human attempts to combine the political and the technological with the goal of creating a more just society can open new possibilities, technological, intellectual, political, and otherwise. Technologies, Medina writes, are historical texts; when we read them we are reading history."

Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile is available for order at Amazon.com and MIT Press. The Spanish translation is availablefrom LOM Ediciones.

Reviews of the book are available here.

 

Current Projects

Research for my current book manuscript, Bones and Lives: Making and Unmaking Truth After Dictatorship, studies the history of how science and technology have shaped the pursuit of truth and justice in the aftermath of human rights crimes in Chile. It is funded by the National Science Foundation (Scholar's Award, SES–1457099). It also builds on the preliminary work I completed while supported by Mellon New Directions Grant, which included a year of graduate study at Yale Law School. 

The book is under contract with Duke University Press. Early research from this project has appeared in Eden Medina, "Forensic Identification in the Aftermath of Human Rights Crimes in Chile: A Decentered Computer History," Technology and Culture 59 (4 Supplement)(2018): S100-S133 and Eden Medina and Ilan Sandberg Wiener, "Science and Harm in Human Rights Cases: Preventing the Revictimization of Families of the Disappeared," Yale Law Journal Forum, 125 (2016): 331-342.

 

Previous Projects

The publications link contains a complete list of my previous projects. However, here is one of my favorites. I authored this short piece in 2017 on the history of the Citroën Yagán for Technosphere Magazine. The Yagán was a Chilean "automobile for the people" built during the socialist government of Salvador Allende. Here you can see a picture of my father-in-law in the driver's seat of the Yagán.

 

Talks

I like presenting my work publicly. Here is a keynote I delivered at the Strata+Hadoop World conference in San Jose, CA. You can also hear me talking about the book on the podcasts 99 Percent Invisible and New Books Network. You can learn about recent and upcoming talks on the News page. 

 

Students

I advise students who have demonstrated a serious interest in conducting research that intersects with my expertise. Students outside of the MIT HASTS program who wish to work with me should enroll in one of my classes.

Recent Ph.D. Graduates (Advisor)

David Nemer, Ph.D. Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, 2015
Dissertation Title: "Rethinking Digital Inequalities: The Experience of the Marginalized in Community Technology Centers"
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Media Studies, University of Virginia

Dongoh Park, Ph.D. Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, 2016
Dissertation Title: "Digital Nation Building: Sociotechnical Development of Public-key Infrastructure in Korea"
Current Position: Senior Policy Specialist, Google

Current Ph.D. Students (Advisor)

Paula Mate, Informatics, Indiana University (2019 expected)
Dissertation Title: "Examining the Implementation of a Health Information System in Mozambique"

Christopher Miles, Informatics and Communication and Culture, Indiana University (2019 expected)
Dissertation Title: "Data Farm: Precision Agriculture and the Government of Nature"

Danial Qaurooni, Informatics and Cognitive Science, Indiana University (2020 expected)
Dissertation Title: "Walled Gardens: Plant Factories and the Computerization of Growth"