14 October, 2016 § Leave a comment
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
Next week I will be giving a Visiting Researcher seminar at the ICS-ULisboa
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’.
29 September, 2016 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
10.15-11.30: 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).
14 September, 2016 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
Journal’s website (free PDF access)