Courtney Handman
Research Interests

My research focuses on how people create cultural and technological communications networks: how people learn to communicate with different kinds of interlocutors, and how different media become part of social transformations. Some of this research has focused on the ways that missionaries have attempted to incorporate different communities into Christianity and I examined translation as a key process in the ongoing creation of Christian social formations. I have looked at the work of bible translators in Papua New Guinea, including both missionary translators from overseas and Papua New Guinean translators, and have worked with Guhu-Samane communities in the Waria River valley of Morobe Province, whose lives have been impacted by translation projects since the 1950s.

I am currently working on an archival project about the ways in which many of the most pressing problems of both colonization and decolonization became framed as problems of communication. I look at the formation of pidgin languages, radio networks, roads, and bureaucratic management as key sites for both colonizers and those hoping to end colonialism to imagine modes of freedom, self-determination, and Christian community. I also teach about invented languages, including those that circulate in both colonial and sci-fi/fantasy worlds.

My next project is focused on how artificial intelligence is changing the ways that people interact with machines. Like my previous work on Christian missionaries, I examine how people learn to speak with and about non-human others (chatbots in the AI case, God in the Christian case). 

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