Goldsmiths Anthropology research >< practice seminar series – 'Technologies of friendship'

research >< practice seminar series

Next 9 Nov 2016 from 4-6pm, I will be sharing bits and pieces of my recent ethnographic work and reflections at the Goldsmiths Anthropology  research >< practice seminar series at RHB 256, Richard Hoggart Building

This seminar series explores the currency of practice research within and without anthropology. It will unpack some of the ways in which the relationship between these two “modes of engagement” has been understood and articulated, from militancy to co-design, from enskillment to collaborative art projects. Drawing from their first-hand experience in the field, the speakers will consider the epistemological challenges and opportunities of practice-led and practice-based research (as well as research-led practice).

Moderator and Organiser: Dr Isaac Marrero-Guillamon

‘Technologies of friendship’: Independent-living activism, open design and the refiguration of the social and the ethnographic

What stories–and more specifically ethnographic stories–would open design allow us to tell? Whereas open design is commonly associated with a multifarious transformation of knowledge-production and economic practices in and around design, in this presentation I will focus on their effect on the practice of ethnography and on the materialisation of forms of relatedness. To do this, I will draw from my engagement since 2012 as ethnographer/documentator in the Barcelona-based activist design collective En torno a la silla (ETS), whose primary principle–resonating with other aspects of the independent-living movement it is part of–is to grant value to experience as a form of knowledge to be used in processes of collaborative alteration of our material surroundings, engaging in the auto-fabrication of open design objects. Operating in a harsh context of austerity measures, fighting for accessibility for ETS has always implied reclaiming the necessary material means to increase the conditions of access between bodily diverse people. Hence, the interest is not to create ‘inclusive objects’–that seek to ‘integrate’ or, rather, open up the gates of an already existing community to those who had been formerly expelled from it–but to produce what they have usually referred to as ‘technologies of friendship’ (tecnologías de la amistad): this term does not bring to the fore a distinctive and static ontology of relations, but thanks to the reflexivity afforded by the investment in documentation, it signals a recursive interstitial form of probing into alternative material forms of relatedness to the ones offered by the state and the market.

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