Diana Kurkovsky West
SHC Post-doctoral Fellow, 2017-2019
Diana's research is focused on the study of the social impact of technologies, with a particular interest in social history of data and information. As an SHC fellow, she will be completing her book manuscript on cybernetic thinking in Soviet planning and governance titled CyberSovietica: Planning for Big Data in the Soviet Union. This project is an extension of her dissertation research conducted at the Princeton University School of Architecture, but expands the optic of the dissertation beyond urban and regional planning in order to interrogate how cybernetics-informed approaches to understanding of information and its future promise shaped the Soviet attempts to deal with governing a planned economy more broadly. In addition to tracing the trajectory of cybernetic thinking in the USSR, its goal is also to uncover a history that helps situate our contemporary discourse on smart cities and big data governance. Besides the work on cybernetics, Diana is interested in issues of automation and computerization, especially as it pertains to urban systems and infrastructure, and in how technologies produce new regimes of human-machine interaction. At Northwestern, she will be teaching courses in the history of technology and a seminar titled "From Cybernetics to Cyberwar".