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accessibility caring infrastructures city-making ecologies ecologies of support ethics, politics and economy of care more-than-human older people publications urban and personal devices

Reassembling Ageing, Ecologising Care?

Upon Patrick Laviolette and Aleksandar Bošković’s invitation, I have written the Anthropological Journal of European Culture’s Editorial Response to Issue 32(1) on Materialities of Age & Ageing.

Reassembling Ageing, Ecologising Care?

Welfare states and market actors across the world have transformed what ageing as a process and being old as an embodied identity might be today, through a wide range of equipment, services and infrastructures. This ‘material’, when not ‘materialist’ drive is the object of analysis of the proposals gathered in AJEC‘s 32(1) special issue, which features different case studies aiming to foreground hitherto under-analysed ‘age-related matters’ to offer conceptual and ethnographic proposals to better understand what the editors call ‘landscapes of ageing and pressing gerontological concerns.’ The backbone of this special issue addresses how ‘material culture’ works in anthropology might be affected by what in other neighbouring disciplines like STS and Ageing studies is being addressed as a ‘socio-gerontechnological’ approach: that is, a joint attention to how ageing is a material process, as well as how materials inscribe or support peculiar meanings or ontologies of ageing.

Drawing from the recent experience of teaching the StudienprojektAgeing Cities: The Crisis of Welfare Infrastructures’ – and particularly reflecting on a field trip where we visited Benidorm and other ageing enclaves in the Costa Blanca (Alicante, Spain) – in my editorial response I wish to take issue with the need to widen this material agenda around ageing bodies and their situated enactments, thinking beyond classic ‘material culture’ objects of study – the home and everyday technologies – and venturing into wider and more convoluted urban arenas, with their variegated scales and material entities. These problematisations, I believe, would force us to provide less metaphorical uses of ecological vocabularies, hence addressing the challenges that these materialised ‘landscapes’ entail for to our conceptions and practices of care: perhaps pushing us to consider the very environmental effects of ageing-friendly modes inhabiting and terraforming, and the new forms of care these landscapes – deeply affecting, in turn, ageing processes — might need?

Recommended citation: Criado, T. S. (2023). Reassembling Ageing, Ecologising Care? (Editorial Response to Issue 32(1) on Materialities of Age & Ageing). Anthropological Journal of European Cultures32(2), v-xii | PDF

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caring infrastructures city-making ecologies of support functional diversity & disability rights publications urban and personal devices

Learning with others about neurodiverse spatial practice > GeoAgenda “Field Trips as Pedagogical Devices”

For the most recent issue of GeoAgenda, the journal of the Swiss Association of Geography, Julio Paulos and Sven Daniel Wolfe have put together a collection of short interventions around the theme “Field Trips as Pedagogical Devices”

The main question they sought to explore was: What are the educational benefits of urban field trips? This special issue of GeoAgenda aims to answer this question through a series of stories, experiences and reflections.

As they suggest in their introduction (p.4):

Field trips are a common unit of study in geography curricula, and they are widely valued for the valuable hands-on learning experiences they provide. Nevertheless, they remain peripheral to most geography curricula. We don’t mean to suggest that field trips should be at the centre of teaching, but that a rethinking of teaching formats outside the classroom, and even within the classroom, is necessary to prepare students for the realities they will encounter once they graduate or leave academia. Field trips give students (and teachers) a vivid, first-hand understanding of (urban) environments. They allow for an exploration of the complexity, diversity, and multiplicities of urban life in a way that cannot be conveyed by classroom instruction alone.

This issue highlights these benefits, but also delves deeper into the issues of reflecting the standards of classroom teaching. In doing so, it calls for a more situated and experimental rethinking of university education.

Upon the gracious invitation of Julio (to whom I’d like to thank here), together with Micol Rispoli and Patrick Bieler we contribute to it with a short piece called:

Learning with others about neurodiverse spatial practice

In early 2020 Micol Rispoli (architect) and Tomás Criado (anthropologist) were working on a design experiment exploring how neurodiverse spatial practice might put architectural design practice in crisis. In previous months they had been engaging with a neurodivergent person and his family. They also had been revising standard architectural approaches to accessible design, in particular with neurodivergent people. But they felt they needed to discuss their predicaments with someone more experienced in these issues. Tomás, then, engaged his colleague Patrick Bieler (anthropologist), an experienced researcher on these matters, to join the conversation.

What follows is the account of a trip to the sights of Patrick’s fieldwork, where we tried to learn together what neurodiverse spatial practice might do to urban design.

Recommended citation: Rispoli, M.; Criado, T. & Bieler, P. (2023). Learning with others about neurodiverse spatial practice. GeoAgenda, 2023/2: 18-19 | PDF

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accessibility caring infrastructures city-making events older people

Studienprojekt “Ageing Cities” > Presentation at the IfEE’s Institutskolloquium on Collective Access

Next Tuesday 19.07.2022 2:30-4pm (CET) please join us for the presentation of the Studienprojekt Ageing Cities by Maximilian Apel, Erman Dinc, Christine Maicher, Adam Petras, Doreen Sauer, and Anna Maria Schlotmann, the wonderful group of people with whom I have had the immense luck to work with in the last year.

In this year we’ve been exploring ethnographically how cities & urban designers are responding to the challenge of population ageing, and how we could understand as ethnographers the social & material transformations underway in their efforts to make ‘ageing-friendly’ cities (check the syllabus of the project)

In this choral presentation we aim to show our findings, searching to answer these questions through specific cases, most of them taking place in Berlin (on variegated issues like intergenerational and intercultural gardens or queer housing projects; the urban activism of the gray panthers; the controversies in public space design, focusing particularly on the conflicts of bike infrastructure; and VR projects to enable urban displacement or travel for older people living in residential care homes).

The picture describes a steep street from Alicante. The left part shows the sidewalk, where an older woman with her walker can be seen from behind. The middle part of the picture displays the bike infrastructures. The right part the street and parking spaces. Framing it from both sides there are 4-storey buildings.

The course has also included an excursion in April 2022 to Alicante, Benidorm and neighbouring urban enclaves in Costa Blanca (Spain). This is a very relevant area because of how ageing concerns have turned, since the 1960s, into a vector of urbanisation in the region – developing into what some geographers call “the pensioners’ coast.” But also, and perhaps more importantly, they have sensitised urban designers from the area to respond to these intergenerational design challenges in different ways. In a joint endeavour with STS-inspired architectural researchers from the Critical Pedagogies, Ecological Politics and Material Practices research group of the University of Alicante, this visit allowed us to explore different approaches to architectural practice where older people have more active roles in the design and management of ageing cities.

In showing all of this we not only wish to tell specific stories, but want to share our conceptual and methodological explorations, and the many questions this process brought about around the contested scripts and the distinctive intergenerational challenges of late life urbanism projects

This will be the last session of the Instituskolloquium of the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie (HU Berlin), which this semester had as a theme ‘Collective Access‘.

Here you could view the video recorded from Zoom
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city-making experimental collaborations games materials multimodal open sourcing

House of Gossip > Open-source game developed by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology

House of Gossip is an open-source downloadable game (developed by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology of the HU Berlin) that stages and creates the grounds for reflection on conflicts regarding housing and the different viewpoints in a volatile real estate market.

A first prototype of the game was developed – in collaboration with colleagues at the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (ZK/U) – in a hackathon together with MA students of the Studienprojekt “The only game in town? Anthropology and the housing markets in Berlin” (2018-2019) at the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie (HU Berlin), and showcased in the “Open Form neu denken” exhibition (organized by Z/KU at the Werkstatt of Haus der Statistik in October 25–27 2019). In the last two years we’ve been working on creating a downloadable and playable version of it.

Image by Vasylysa Shchogoleva

Credits

Game concept (in alphabetical order): Tomás Criado, Ignacio Farías, Lena Heiss, Marie Aline Klinger, Lilian Krischer, Leonie Schipke & Tan Weigand. 

Game art by Vasylysa Shchogoleva

CC BY NC SA 2021 Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology, HU Berlin

Context

Berlin, late 2010s, all across the city real estate is changing hands fast, the market is hot and many are investing, houses are revaluing. As it tends to happen, this situation has at least two different sides:

Scene 1

– “What about this building? Might you have found a good opportunity here?”
– “It indeed looks nice, but have we explored if it’s in good condition?”

– “The architect sent me this report, look, all clear.” – “It certainly looks promising.”
– “It’s time to act fast.”
– “Ok, yes, let’s go for this house!”

Scene 2

– “Hi, how was your day?”
– “Nothing special, yours?”
– “I heard rumours, two neighbours speaking in the corridor: the building is finally going to be bought!” – “Yes, there was a letter in the mail, look”.
– “But… What will happen to us? Will we have to move if they raise the rent?”
– “We have to do something…”
– “But we know nearly no one in the house.”

“When an apartment building is to be sold, every single alarm bell sets off for the residents. In view of the horrendous purchase prices, there is a danger of being displaced by higher rents or even conversion into condominiums.”

Rationale

House of Gossip is  an open-source downloadable game that stages and creates the grounds for reflection on conflicts regarding housing and the different viewpoints in a volatile real estate market. In the game, you will have the opportunity to play either as a resident of the house or as a covert buyer, acting as one of the house’s residents.

In a process where no one can be certain about anything, gossip abounds: In the game you will have to gather information form alliances and find your way to save (as residents) or buy (as the buyer) the house! Think twice about who and when you want to share your information with!

During the course of the game you will repeatedly encounter your neighbours in the stairway to exchange gossip. Your main goal is not just to understand to whom you’re talking to, but also to perform in front of others and form alliances for one of the two competing purposes of the game: Buying or saving the house.

Those who manage to gather the necessary gossips will in the end win the game. Will the house community manage to resist or could the buyer succeed in acquiring the new property?

Download link

The game can be downloaded here.

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city-making more-than-human publications techniques & ways of doing uncommoning urban and personal devices

Uncommoning the city | Hacer la ciudad poco común

Guillermo Fernández-Abascal and Urtzi Grau recently edited the bilingual compilation Coches, humanos y bordillos, aprendiendo a vivir juntos | Learning to Live Together: Cars, Humans, and Kerbs in Solidarity, which has just been published by Bartlebooth. A volume on the conflicts and possibilities of new more or less digital forms of city-making and urban life.

Contribuciones de / Contributions by Ibiye Camp, Brendan Cormier, Noortje Marres, Hamish McIntosh, Simone C. Niquille / Technoflesh, Marina Otero Verzier, Tomás Sánchez Criado, Brenton Alexander Smith, Lara Lesmes + Fredrik Hellberg (Space Popular), Liam Young.

[ES] Viviremos todos juntos, eso es inevitable. Pero la llegada de los vehículos autónomos al entorno urbano plantea otra cuestión urgente: ¿cómo se integrarán estos coches sin conductor en la vida cotidiana? Las industrias tecnológicas y del automóvil que desarrollan estos vehículos también están diseñando el futuro de nuestras ciudades. Sus visiones muestran calles que incorporan tecnologías autónomas y donde los humanos deambulan, despreocupados, por un espacio público donde máquinas automatizadas circulan a alta velocidad. Estas visiones se proyectan en un tiempo lejano, y al hacerlo, ignoran las cuestiones que la llegada de estos vehículos plantean en el futuro inmediato.

En respuesta a tal descuido, este ensayo, y las reflexiones que lo acompañan, exploran los conflictos inminentes asociados a esta tecnología y como estos transformaran nuestras calles, con una hipótesis en mente: el despliegue de la tecnología sin conductor, rápida y disruptiva, no conlleva una solución urbana integrada, más bien plantea preguntas y exige imaginar como responderlas. Este libro identifica algunas, responde a otras y, sobre todo, imagina cómo humanos y maquinas podrán influir en las decisiones sobre el ecosistema urbano, colectivamente.

[EN] We are on the verge of sharing our cities with autonomous vehicles. Recent developments in driverless technologies are having an impact on our urban environment, raising questions about how self-driving vehicles could be integrated into our daily lives. Automotive and technological industries are not only developing the vehicles but also envisioning the future of our cities, a future where streets have seamlessly integrated driverless technologies and humans wander about, unconcerned by the presence of new automated machines circulating at high speeds through public space. These visions skip to a distant time and ignore the issues that these vehicles raise in the immediate future.

In response to such an oversight, this essay and the accompanying meditations explore the conflicts soon to be unleashed by this new technology and the transformation of our streets it will trigger. The current implementations of driverless technology, which are fast and disruptive, do not suggest an eventual integrated urban solution. Yet this book allows us to imagine how humans and cars might collectively influence the urban environment.

In my contribution to the volume I share a provocation on the project of urban unification of ‘smart city’ initiatives: What if rather than trying to contribute to urban unity, contemporary urban planners and designers relearnt, through different techniques and procedures (algorithmic, sensor-based, DIY or otherwise), to be affected by an uncommon city? In other words, the processes whereby cities are treated not as places of homogeneity but of divergence.

Published as Criado, T.S. (2021). Uncommoning the city | Hacer la ciudad poco común. In G. Fernández-Abascal & U. Grau (Eds.), Aprendiendo a vivir juntos: Solidaridad entre humanos, coches y bordillos / Learning to Live Together: Cars, Humans, and Kerbs in Solidarity (pp. 123-130). A Coruña: Bartlebooth | PDF EN & PDF ES