MCTS, TU Munich – Research Colloquium: ‘Tinkering with care’

14 October, 2016 § Leave a comment

Tutorial rampa portátil, En torno a la silla CC BY NC SA 2015

On Tuesday, 25 Oct 2016, Dr. Tomás S. Criado (MCTS) will give a talk on “Tinkering with care: Austere experiments with alternative welfare infrastructures” at the MCTS (TU Munich) Research Colloquium.

The event will take place at MCTS, Augustenstr. 46, seminar room 270 and start at 5:00 pm.

The MCTS Research Colloquium is designed to present recent Science and Technology Studies projects as well as to stimulate discussion on the various research activities by MCTS scholars and their guests.


Abstract for the talk

Once considered the primary institutional expression of care in the global North, the Welfare State and its infrastructures are now under great strains. Apart from neoliberal attempts at streamlining ‘the social’, different versions of Welfare across Europe have also been contested by disability rights movements due to their articulation around ‘dependence’. In this presentation, I will show a particular set of experiments at tinkering with such articulations of care and citizenship in particularly ‘austere’ times. Indeed, I will reflect on the practices I have been studying ethnographically in the past years in Spain, involving activist self-management or auto-fabrication of self-care devices by independent-living collectives. This is a response to both recent legal developments, the inadequacy of standardized market products, the increasing lack of funds, and the cracks in the public services, such as the system of provision of technical aids–a particular care regime I will generically refer to as ‘the catalogue’. As part of my involvement with different collectives tinkering, in their own idiom, with care arrangements, I will narrate the collaborative design practices and the strategies of different independent-living activists and engaged professionals attempting to bring into existence alternative and more caring forms of envisioning, materializing and valuing these arrangements. In sheer contrast with the state/corporate expert-based ‘catalogue’ of products and services, tinkering with care for these groups entails engaging in austere and fragile self-experimental design practices where alternative epistemic, economic and political ‘regimes of co-production’ (experience-based, collaborative, and self-produced) are tested and demonstrated. In describing this, I will not only try to ethnographically take issue with the understandings of welfare ‘otherwise’ they bring to the fore, but also with how they might help us address, in a more vernacular light, the different notions of care being developed recently in STS.

ICS, ULisboa – Visiting Researcher seminar: ‘Give Us an Institute and We Will Raise an Accessible Barcelona’

8 October, 2016 § Leave a comment

Give Us an Institute and We Will Raise an Accessible Barcelona

Next week I will be giving a Visiting Researcher seminar at the ICS-ULisboa

Organized by Dr. Ana DelicadoResearch group ‘Environment, Territory and Society’


Give Us an Institute and We Will Raise an Accessible Barcelona

12 October 2016 14.30h – 16.30h

Sala 2, ICS-ULisboa

This presentation reports on ethnographic and archival work undertaken in 2014 and 2016 at a very small and peripheral institute, part of Barcelona’s City Hall, the Institut Municipal de Persones amb Discapacitat (IMPD): enforcing and supervising the city-wide planning and implementation of accessible urban and transport infrastructures. Allegedly, the IMPD has been crucial for Barcelona’s huge transformation into one of the most accessible cities in the world. Officially founded in 1990–merging disability-specific management units (patronats) that emerged after the disability rights struggles in the late 1970s–this institute’s main objective has been that of offering a way for disabled people to take part in the city’s planning. Indeed, the IMPD’s council is jointly managed by civil servants–mostly social workers–and disabled people’s representatives elected every 4 years. But how could such a small entity have a lasting impact on a huge and extremely complex municipal structure? And how, in doing so, could it grant the ‘material expression’ of accessibility rights for its most vulnerable citizens?

In this presentation I will seek to explain this paying particular attention to the ‘documentary interfaces’ put together to articulate interesting relationships between the technicians and the accessibility advocates. To be more specific, not only will I seek to report on (a) on the role of topic-specific ‘commissions of participation’, where experiential and embodied knowledge from the disabled is documented and brought together to sensitize the architects and engineers in charge of implementing wider municipal projects; but also on other ‘smaller interventions’, such as: (b) its regular publications, sensitization campaigns and outreach leaflets; and (c) the work of its technicians, constantly supervising and writing reports on the designs, materials, and implementation of different urban accessibility projects. Building from this, I seek to foreground the IMPD as a ‘sensitizing device’, affecting in different modes the wider implementation of an ‘accessibility culture’ within the City Hall’s urban professionals’ planning and interventions. A fragile and fallible diplomatic task of affecting peripherally the multifarious sociomaterial articulation of accessibility arrangements, where many compromises have to be made with the goal of making Barcelona a city ‘for all’.

Caring through Design?: En torno a la silla and the ‘Joint Problem-Making’ of Technical Aids

29 September, 2016 § Leave a comment


Charlotte Bates, Rob Imrie, and Kim Kullman have edited the challenging compilation Care and Design: Bodies, Buildings, Cities (out November 2016 with Wiley-Blackwell).
In their words, the book: “connects the study of design with care, and explores how concepts of care may have relevance for the ways in which urban environments are designed. It explores how practices and spaces of care are sustained specifically in urban settings, thereby throwing light on an important arena of care that current work has rarely discussed in detail.”
Israel Rodríguez-Giralt and I contribute with the Chapter 11 “Caring through Design?: En torno a la silla and the ‘Joint Problem-Making’ of Technical Aids (pp. 198-218).

The idea for a wheelchair armrest/briefcase CC BY NC SA En torno a la silla (2012)


In this paper, we engage with the practices of En torno a la silla (ETS), which involve fostering small DIY interventions and collective material explorations, in order to demonstrate how these present a particularly interesting mode of caring through design. They do so, firstly, by responding to the pressing needs and widespread instability that our wheelchair friends face in present-day Spain, and, secondly, through the intermingling of open design and the Independent-Living movement’s practices and method, which, taken together, enable a politicisation and problematisation of the usual roles of people and objects in the design process. In the more conventional creation of commoditized care technologies, such as technical aids, the role of the designer as expert is clearly disconnected from that of the lay or end user. Rather, technical aids are objects embodying the expertise of the designer to address the needs of the user. As we will argue, ETS unfolds a ‘more radical’ approach to the design of these gadgets through what we will term ‘joint problem-making,’ whereby caring is understood as a way of sharing problems between users and designers, bringing together different skills to collaboratively explore potential solutions.


CISP, Goldsmiths – ‘The New Experimentalisms’ workshop

15 September, 2016 § Leave a comment


I will be presenting the introduction to the forthcoming book ‘Experimental collaborations: Ethnography through fieldwork devices‘ (co-edited with Adolfo Estalella) at the The New Experimentalisms, a one day workshop at CISP/Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

Tuesday September 20th 2016, 10-5pm

Room RHB 137a

Organized by Michael Guggenheim, Dan Neyland, Alex Wilkie

Recent Science and Technology Studies (STS) work on experiments has provided a basis for rethinking the terms, practices and consequences of experimentation. This has opened up opportunities to question, for example, experimental controls, provocative containments, training and professional practice. This work has also broadened the traditional STS focus on scientific laboratories to also include economic, social scientific and commercial experimentation, exploring new territories of experimentation and their attendant means of reproducing the world.

At the same time, scholars in STS, Sociology, Anthropology and Design have pursued experiments not just as an object of study, but also as something to do. Here we find, for example, experiments with algorithmic walks, expertise and issues. An earlier critique of experiments as artificial and interventionist has given way to a new embracing of material staging of situations and problems.

Social researchers have come to acknowledge we can learn precisely because of the non-naturalism of experiments. Experiments have become legitimate forms to intervene in the world, and to invent new worlds.  In this way STS scholars have begun to think again about the realities in which they participate. In this workshop we will feature recent experimenters within STS with scholars who have analysed experiments in specific fields.



10.00: Welcome

10.15-11.30: Pelle Ehn (Design, Malmö):

democratic design experiments (in the small)

Commentator: Kim Kullmann (Sociology, Goldmsiths) 

11.45-1pm: Tomás Sánchez Criado (STS, Munich):

The Ethnographic Experiment, Revisited: Experimental Collaborations, or the ‘Devicing’ of Fieldwork for Joint Problem-Making

Commentator: Isaac Marrero-Guillamón (Anthropology, Goldsmiths)

1pm – 2pm: lunch

2pm-3.15pm: Claire Waterton (Sociology, Lancaster):

An Experimental Collective: Working Through Modalities and the Enrichment of Land and Water

Commentator: Jennifer Gabrys (Sociology, Goldsmiths) 

3.30pm-4.45pm: Tobias Bornakke Jørgensen (Sociology, Copenhagen):

Sensing Data: The Emergence of Sensor-Based Experiments in the Social Sciences

Commentator: Noortje Marres (Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick).

Urban accessibility issues: Technoscientific democratizations at the documentation interface

14 September, 2016 § Leave a comment


Picture CC BY Maria José Agüero

Carrers per a tothom demonstration, Barcelona, 14 March 2015 CC BY M.J. Agüero

As part of a special feature in the journal CITY edited by Ignacio Farías and Anders Blok on “Technical democracy as a challenge for urban studies”, Marcos Cereceda and I are publishing this article on accessibility struggles in Barcelona and their documentation interfaces.

CITY, 2016 VOL. 20, NO. 4, pp. 619-636,


After many struggles from disability rights and independent-living advocates, urban accessibility has gradually become a concern for many urban planners across post-industrial countries. In this paper, based on ethnographic fieldwork studies in Barcelona working with urban accessibility professionals and activists, we argue for the importance of the ‘documentation interfaces’ created in their struggles: that is, the relational processes to collaboratively build multi-media accounts in a diversity of formats seeking to enforce different translations of bodily needs into specific urban accessibility arrangements. In discussion with the asymmetries that the ongoing expertization of accessibility might be opening up, we would like to foreground these apparently irrelevant practices as an interesting site to reflect on how urban accessibility struggles might allow us to rethink the project of technical democracy and its applications to urban issues. Two cases are analyzed: (1) the creation of Streets for All, a platform to contest and to sensitize technicians and citizens alike of the problems of ‘shared streets’ for the blind and partially sighted led by the Catalan Association for the Blind; and (2) the organization of the Tinkerthon, a DIY and open-source hardware workshop boosted by En torno a la silla to facilitate the creation of a network of tinkerers seeking to self-manage accessibility infrastructures. These cases not only bring to the fore different takes on the democratization of the relations between technical professionals and disability rights advocates, but also offer different approaches to the politics of universals in the design of urban accessibility arrangements.

Uncorrected draft


Tema emergente (RDTP) – Colaboraciones experimentales

28 July, 2016 § Leave a comment

rdtp-xcol cover

Acaba de salir el nuevo tema emergente editado conjuntamente con Adolfo Estalella, publicado en la Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares Vol 71, No 1 (2016) sobre “Colaboraciones experimentales: Una modalidad etnográfica“. (DOI: 10.3989/rdtp.2016.v71.i1)

¡Con un buen puñado de trabajos bien interesantes y todo el contenido libre para descarga!

Parte del proyecto #xcol


Este tema propone una discusión en torno a la figura conceptual de las ‘colaboraciones experimentales’, una modalidad etnográfica cuya producción de conocimiento adopta una forma experimental fundada en relaciones colaborativas en el campo. Las contribuciones reunidas en el compendio dan cuenta de etnografías realizadas en sitios de activismo urbano o espacios artísticos, contextos poblados por comunidades epistémicas dedicadas a la producción de conocimiento, altamente reflexivas sobre sus condiciones de producción. Aunque breves en su provocación, las contribuciones dejan constancia de cómo esos sitios parecen ofrecernos la posibilidad, o plantearnos la necesidad, de reconsiderar la forma y norma del trabajo de campo etnográfico. La figura de las colaboraciones experimentales intenta nombrar y describir la implicación de los antropólogos y antropólogas en esos sitios. Es por lo tanto una figura descriptiva y una propuesta conceptual. Los trabajos aquí presentados nos ofrecen un vocabulario que describe la etnografía a través de conceptos como ‘infraestructuras de campo’, ‘plataformas públicas’ o ‘eventos realizados en colaboración’, que da cuenta del trabajo de campo como un ‘estado borrador’ o que propone formas de ‘etnografía acción participativa’ o ‘experimentación participante’.


¿Cómo sería un ejercicio de experimentación etnográfica en el trabajo de campo? Pareciera que las etnografías de las últimas décadas dedicadas al estudio de los nuevos medios, la ciencia y las organizaciones globales nos ofrecieran la posibilidad, o plantearan la necesidad, de reconsiderar la forma y norma del trabajo de campo etnográfico. Este artículo discute a partir de nuestra experiencia etnográfica lo que designamos como formas de trabajo de campo experimentales. Planteamos nuestro argumento a través de la narración de un proyecto de pedagogía urbana realizado en estrecha colaboración con dos colectivos de arquitectura: una infraestructura urbana de aprendizaje, informada por los lenguajes vernáculos del campo y nuestras conceptualizaciones etnográficas, un gesto recursivo que vuelve nuestros hallazgos etnográficos sobre nuestra propia práctica. Argumentamos que este proyecto nos ofrece la posibilidad de re-aprender y reimaginar nuestra experiencia etnográfica, no mediante la estética tradicional del encuentro etnográfico sino a través de una instalación infraestructural que acondiciona el campo para lo que describimos como un ejercicio experimental. Nuestra evocación de lo experimental no pretende ser un ejercicio de ruptura con el método sino una renovación del vocabulario descriptivo y lenguaje conceptual de los relatos de campo de nuestras etnografías.

Sumario y trabajos

[es] Experimentación etnográfica: infraestructuras de campo y re-aprendizajes de la antropología 9-30
Adolfo Estalella, Tomás Sánchez Criado
[es] Objetos textuales y dispositivos colaborativos: de la etnografía como plataforma pública 31-38
Isaac Marrero Guillamón
[es] Tiempos de colaboración: performances del conocimiento urbano 39-48
Montserrat Cañedo Rodríguez
[es] La colaboración como condición: la etnografía participativa como oportunidad para la acción 49-57
Luis Berraquero-Díaz, Francisco Maya-Rodríguez, Francisco Javier Escalera Reyes
[es] Auto-borradores: la antropología y la cultura difuminándose mutuamente 59-66
Alberto Corsín Jiménez
[es] Experimentaciones participantes en arte y antropología 67-73
Roger Sansi

CLEENIK: Clinic of anthropological ethnographic experiments in fieldwork @EASA2016 Milano

17 July, 2016 § Leave a comment


CLEENIK is searching for “sick” ethnographers interested in donating their time for science, sharing their suffering experiences, and helping others find the #xcol™ cure! 

For this, you would be receiving a treatment FOR FREE in our internationally renowned CLEENIK, an institution with the most innovative experimental collaboration techniques for the treatment of contemporary fieldwork disorders. 

Have you ever suffered from…

EES – Excess of Engagement Stress?

When you and your natives get ‘too involved’ or simply ‘become too strange’. Symptoms may include permanent conflicts, provocations, an excess of questioning, quarrels, love & hate relationships, irritation, misunderstandings, too much objections, mutual aggressions, constant jokes, natives making fun of you/you making fun of them, playful inversion of roles or blurring the boundaries sensation (‘natives’ becoming the observers and you the object of their scrutiny), frictional effects, unpredictable consequences – and in extreme situations, ethnographic breakdown.

GN – Goingnativosis?

It’s that point when you realize you did it all wrong – in the ethnographic process you have become a ‘professional native’. Symptoms may include (cultural, disciplinary) identity crisis, feeling like a foreign in your own culture, feeling unadapted when back home, becoming too critical about your own culture (the ‘things are so much better back there’ kind of feeling), feeling like being a stranger within the anthropologist community, or never being able to ‘come back’ (physically, emotionally, etc.).

TRIAD – Transdisciplinary/Interdisciplinary Associative Disorder?

“One does not born, but rather becomes, an anthropologist”. The more typical symptoms of TRIAD are disciplinary disorientation. In our clinic we make change-of-discipline interventions – either from anthropology to other disciplines or from other disciplines to anthropology. You can also choose the hybrid half-way.

Come and share them at the CLEENIK, an #EASA2016 Lab05 (22 July 9am Room 2)

CLEENIK is a specialized anthropological clinic. We treat anthropologists suffering from the multiple syndromes consequence of ethnographic experiments in fieldwork.  If you think you may have suffered any of these syndromes or you want to prevent in case of starting fieldwork, you may just drop by to our session and ask for advice and treatment.

In the CLEENIK we will create the grounds for a discussion around the figure of ethnographic experimentation in fieldwork. For this, we ask participants to share the diseases they have suffered in their fieldwork.

As a way to find a cure, in the session we will propose the construction a network of Ethnographic Experimentation.

Convenors: Dr. Anna Gaspar (Coimbra University), Dr. Adolfo Estalella (CSIC), Dr. Tomás S. Criado (MCTS, TUM)

Download the postcard flyer and spread the word!

Postcard design: Anna Gonchar | Image credits CC BY Lwp Kommunikáció


CLEENIK is an open-source adaptation and a continuation for ethnographic audiences of ColaBoraBora’s Klinika also an adaptation of an initiative by Maria Salazar, part of her artistic residence at Muelle3 in Bilbao (more info here).