Skip to main content

Do metaphors serve to reveal technology or conceal it?

Metaphors are indispensable tools for making sense of reality, including the ongoing reality of systemic colonial relations—or to obfuscate it (to deflect the need to enact substantive decolonisation agendas, for example). In times of crisis they perform a crucial role in translating and interpreting a rapidly changing world.

Viral phenomena have multiplied recently, literally and metaphorically. But all crises generate metaphorical languages. Terrorism was not a virus, it was a bacterial formation; the GFC was a fierce and incontrollable storm… The ‘Canberra bubble’ – a bad thing – has become the ‘family bubble’ – a good thing. To understand what is at stake in the metaphors we use and the ways they are deployed, we need a critical engagement with their underlying assumptions, their rhetorical operation, their ideological effects, and their real-world implications.




Do metaphors serve to reveal technology or conceal it?

Robyn Ferrell (Philosophy & Gender Studies, University of Sydney), ‘Three figures of the digital’.

Timothy Strom (Arena, Melbourne), ‘Spider-bots on the Crawl Frontier: Cybernetic Surveillance and Colonial Metaphors’.

Cassandra Steer (Law, Australian National University) & Cait Storr (University of Technology Sydney), ‘Is “Space Colonisation” a Metaphor? International Space Law and the Global Decolonisation Movements.

Back to top


Recorded: 16 October 2020


Robyn Ferrel
Timothy Strom
Cassandra Steer
Cait Storr


metaphors recording The Bubble videos


Other Recordings

20 Nov 2020

The art of joining together

The art of joining together: Why we need a yuta [new] anthropology ‘Buku-manapanmirr means joining together. When Yolŋu use this term they point to the potential for people to come together …

17 Nov 2020

Decolonising Truth

Over two consecutive weeks in late October, the Institute of Postcolonial Studies and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, Deakin University, co-hosted an important and lively series of …