Junck Research Colloquium with Meryl Alper

Thursday, January 19, 2017 -
4:00pm to 5:00pm

Halls of Fame room

About the event

The Junck Colloquium with Meryl Alper will occur on Thursday, Jan. 19, in the Halls of Fame room from 4-5 p.m.

Alper — a professor from the Northeastern University Grady College of Arts, Media and Design — will deliver her keynote: "Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability and Inequality."


Meryl Alper, Ph.D.

College of Arts, Media and Design, Northeastern University

"Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality"

 Mobile communication technologies are often hailed in the popular press and public policy as a means of “giving voice to the voiceless.” Behind the praise are determinist beliefs about technology as a gateway to opportunity, voice as a metaphor for agency and self-representation, and voicelessness as a stable and natural category. In this talk, based on her forthcoming book Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality (MIT Press, 2017), Meryl Alper offers a new angle on these established critiques through a qualitative study of individuals with significant communication disabilities who use mobile devices for synthetic speech output. Alper finds that despite widespread claims to empowerment, these tools are still subject to disempowering structural inequalities. Culture, laws, institutions, and even technology itself can reinforce disparities among those with disabilities across class, race, ethnicity, and gender. Alper argues that voice is an overused and imprecise metaphor in media and communication studies, one that abstracts, obscures, and oversimplifies the human experience of disability. She will discuss implications of her research for our rapidly changing media ecology and political environment, where the question is not only which voices get to speak, but also who is thought to have a voice to speak with in the first place.

About the Junck Colloquium

The Mary Junck Research Colloquium series was formally established in 2007 to nurture an intellectually vibrant climate with both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary shades, by scheduling scholarly presentations on diverse topics.

The speakers represent various disciplines and units on campus as well as other universities and organizations in the Triangle. The series has been particularly successful in attracting scholars and researchers of national and international renown from within the U.S. and abroad. The series attracts a diverse audience comprising faculty, graduate students and researchers from around the Triangle.

2016-17 Junck Colloquium Series:

For more information

For more information, please contact Kriste Patrow at patrowk@live.unc.edu.