Two crises in and with STS: From ‘translation’ to ‘re-specification’?

Slightly amended version of my presentation at the opening plenary, in dialogue with Tiago Moreira and Ana Viseu, of the first joint meeting of RedesCTS and the Portuguese STS network in Lisbon at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais (ICS), 7-9 June 2017 ‘Lost in translation: People, Technologies, Practices and Concepts Across Boundaries’.

For this session we were explicitly asked to reflect a bit on how our work has been “affected by, or has dealt with, different kinds of boundaries, epistemic, geographical, disciplinary, linguistic, and so on.”

This was to be the first step of a wider debate amongst the presenters and the public. But I believe the need for this debate goes beyond this event, and even this network’s meeting. Any comments more than welcome.

In my intervention in this debate, I would like to profit this occasion to mumble or, rather, to think aloud on the process of moving from the uber-activist and hyper-collective intellectual milieu of Spain under austerity in the last years to the context of an ‘entrepreneurial’ public university in Munich, and into the new STS centre of Germany to be more specific.

I will try to articulate my own experience, not as an autobiographical reflection but as a mode of eliciting how moving around has made me undergo two crises in and with how STS is practiced and what its goals might be. I’ll use what these crises opened up to try out an analytic of how to go beyond ‘translation’ as a mode of, maybe paradoxically, making us experience the feeling of being ‘lost in translation.’ And will try to put forward how ‘re-specification’ rather than ‘translation’ might be conveying a more interesting stance into forms of interventive and experimental engagement with the political issues of STS’s form and content.

  1. A crisis with STS ‘as is’

My first crisis was with STS ‘as is’… Yet I think this was a particularly collective one: the collective crisis that lead to the creation of something like this network. Without any intention to speak for anyone, my interpretation is that a space like RedesCTS–an open, allegedly hierarchically flat, and voluntarily interdisciplinary network–was needed for many reasons. Allow me to briefly mention them…

First, because most of us were alone, like lost children, without any kind of institutional backing or context to share our interest in a rather minoritarian field in our surroundings; having to work within or under the framework of highly institutionalised disciplines. Hence, a network, as a form of relatedness, allowed building bridges between traditions, locales, and diverging modes of doing things which had many reasons to be in a potential dialogue: ANT, feminist technoscience studies, science and society, history of science and technology, innovation studies, etc.

Second, a network was quintessential to break even with the ‘Game of Throne-ish’ situation of post-Francoist academia or with the vast precariousness of means most of us have been plunging in since we started our ‘career’ as social scientists, a situation that has only got worse and worse, as you are all well aware. For this, a network with no membership, and allowing hybrid and impure connections, helped many people relate, and even articulate better their multiple belongings and commitments.

Third, this statute might have been part of a wider and even deeper stance that a more vernacular take on STS was needed, since this widely Anglo-Dutch discipline, hence dominated by many times foreign or strange political, historical and academic-institutional concerns was not really helping many of us to relate to our topics of interest, our surroundings, and even our incipient tradition of collective vernacular thought.

Very relevant in the form and composition of a mutable and changing network allowing diverse people ‘to keep on doing stuff’,[1] as well as in the types of debates there taking place, might have been the vicinity in its early stages with the ‘15M’ (the multifarious indignados events), and the gigantic experimentation that has been taking place in forms of collective action.[2] But also, the relevance and importance of ‘trans-feminist’, ‘functional diversity’, and ‘artivist’ ethical and political stances. As much as it had affected other spaces, this became an important vector in allowing for other forms of the possible, the say-able, and the thinkable… to name but a few of the attributes Jacques Rancière uses to define ‘politics.’

Using irony and play the very network even started to become a space for the recursive experimentation of STS, its ideas, and concepts affecting not only content but also its form. And throughout the years, the network has produced its own vernacular lingo: the very network being considered as a ‘prototype’ of other forms of academia,[3] or an interventionist and experimental space to ‘care for formats’[4] and ‘spatial modes of encounter’ with others.[5] A particularly distributed and uneven mode of searching to articulate the different ecologies of practices we have been inhabiting as researchers, activists, or regular lay people, together with others beyond academia.

I think spaces of the like should not necessarily be thought of as effects of situations of economic or financial crisis. I believe another kind crisis is much more important to account for why people feel the need to open up spaces of the like, according to the potentialities they might have: maybe the wider crisis of legitimacy of academia as an autonomous and disengaged endeavour–we could use here the much abused ‘ivory tower’ epithet–and, in particular, of scientific societies as infrastructures of collective thought and mutual support might be a more apt rendering.

If I had to define what the network has meant for me: This has been a space making available to think on our research situation in terms of both its form and content. That is, addressing the singularity of a particular thematic distribution of topics, as well as the commitment many people had in close dialogue with or even because of their belonging to activist spaces, but also forging relevant local concepts, formats as relevant modes of addressing not-only-conceptual or not-only-linguistic modes of expression, as well as a experimenting with the ‘how-to’ aspects of fostering dialogues with non-academic spaces.

But however ‘nice’ or ‘cool’ these dear spaces have always been; however much they allowed us to talk and do things in more vernacular terms, these never were spaces devoid of troubles, hierarchies or privileges. Besides, the rampant precariousness has not disappeared, and the network has only allowed people to keep connected even when they were losing their jobs or working under horrible conditions.

So, despite many attempts at translating the loss, these translations into the form of a network haven’t stopped the erosion of living under such conditions. I won’t deny the importance of attempts at articulating and finding ways to express it have made people feel less lonely in very complex times, but…

  1. A crisis with the institutionalised politics of  STS 

Anyway, many of us kept on searching. Some left, and some stayed either because they cared more for the non-career aspects of their lives, or because they couldn’t or wouldn’t or shouldn’t.[6] With no intention whatsoever of becoming a model or an example of anything, but just as a way to have an entry point into a wider argument, let me talk about my very personal case…

After a while, and thinking both that there was no exit and that I needed a change (for many reasons I cannot convey in public), I started searching for jobs abroad. After more than two years of search, I was lucky enough to be offered a well-paid job in an emergent institution, with very nice and clever colleagues, and with funding conditions granting me the opportunity to travel and share my work. Of course, I could here delve into many of the classic tropes of the 1960s migrating Spaniard to Germany, condensed in films and popular myths. And, for the most of the first year, I drowned in some versions of them, feeling really lucky but also really lonely because of what I traded to become an academic migrant (this is something many of you know better than I do).

But everything seemed different: From growing accustomed to thinking together with friends, I had to re-learn how to address a situation I had also been searching for: being treated as a more individualised researcher with his own career. I was also many times feeling a bit isolated, since despite my hopes, goals and aspirations the ecology I had learnt to live and breath in was no longer accompanying me in my everyday life. This was of course very puzzling: From feeling the abundance of possibilities and freedom I had experienced, funding and job scarcity notwithstanding, to being sometimes dominated by a strange feeling of lack of possibilities and options in a place of comfort and financial abundance.

The funniest thing is I sought to allegedly bring to the job the more experimental democratic and collaborative takes on STS issues I had learnt to articulate in the space of this network. And in a way, the job I had to deliver, working in a chair for participatory technology design, teaching both to architects and future STSers, was to bring about some of the methods and formats I had learnt in my own work together with design activists. Of course, as a de-rooted academic migrant I could say my first mistake was forgetting about what I would need to change to address the local context, its issues and problems, something I knew nothing about. To make things worse I knew no German…

However paradoxical this might seem I was, again, ‘lost in translation’ since I had to face the many difficulties or sheer impossibilities of translating the modes of thinking and doing I had learnt in the previous years to a context I couldn’t relate to very easily. In fact, this stupid idea of believing I could do it has made me feel a great sense of loss in many a dark night.

I have also had to face my naiveté or sheer audacity in having forgotten that institutional spaces of alleged financial or funding abundance are not devoid of other problems of scarcity: a chronic lack of time created by the many commitments and compromises that ‘spending money reasonably’ entail; but also, the lack of a generic care for free processes of collective thought that an individualist focus on career and unit-centric demarcations might create; not to speak of the problems deriving from how well-greased hierarchies might operate in places of monetary power…

In any case, my biggest (yet very small for others), or maybe to say it better ‘attainable’ struggle to date has been how to relate to this situation. And, maybe, I could say that one of the things I have been trying to do is searching to translate the politics of the ‘activist design collectives’ I had been working with in the past into a pedagogic agenda for the architects and social scientists I have been teaching to…

Interestingly, the agenda we have been developing in the team, led by Ignacio Farías, has been very much aligned to that. In a way, I’d say we have become interested in addressing how to turn the STS programme of ‘technical democracy,’ or the technoscientific democratisations some of us had been doing research and engaged work on, into something like a ‘teaching technicians to behave otherwise’ programme. What a challenge…

But, indeed, a very interesting one working from the belly of the Bavarian beast–if you allow me the pun to talk about the leading German ‘polytechnic’ university at the core of one of the golden cradles of global corporate capitalism. In a way I’d say we have been searching to translate these STS-minded issues into a way of affecting the future technicians, professionals or experts. This could be nothing more than a small pedagogic stance of one of the older aims of the field: to intervene technocracy. Hence, in the last two years we have been experimenting with different trials, or should I say somewhat ‘learning failures’? Failures in devising a sound teaching programme that have also entailed a whole new learning process for us.

Allow me to indicate a few examples: I talk about failures in capturing the students’ attention or in making them care about some of these things beyond ready-made humanitarian gestures. Students seemed many times uninterested, since we were not helping them be more employable in the job market they search to work in. Also, our teaching methods, based on lecturing, reading and commenting, have proven deeply inappropriate. There have also been failures in establishing productive co-teaching relations with other architects, since our task might not be very legible to them. Hence, as an outcome, our attempts have many times been facing an overall tendency to ‘problem solving’ or suffering from the perpetual reenactment of ‘technical-social divides’.

But little by little we’ve transformed our expectations, in a search for collaborations elsewhere. In fact, our trials have helped us relate with other architects from other places who seem to use a kind of common language, and who are helping us to address how we could be putting modes of design ‘in crisis’ (I am particularly thinking here of Ester Gisbert and her inspiring ‘experiments with craft‘).

Indeed, that is the exploration we are searching to unfold in our last course, titled: ‘Design in crisis: Coming to our senses.’[7] In it, we are trying to make them aware of the multi-sensory aspects of design practice, searching to teach them through sensory experiments and practices, techniques, tools and devices that I have come across in my ethnographic work on inclusive urbanism. Hence, the aim is to make them collectively prototype a multi-sensory architectural toolkit (a toolkit for a blind architect!): a set of devices, methods, and skills necessary to re-equip their very architectural practice at the same time that we make them ‘come to their senses.’

So far, the results in their embodied transformation make me really hopeful that we might have found a potential prototype: or, to say it otherwise, a ‘line of tension’ to start addressing the issue, at least with our students coming from different European countries. We are also trying to document this experience in order to be able to share it and discuss it with some other colleagues from different countries to address that very issue: how to teach STS to designers or architects when you cannot properly ‘teach them’ the lingo nor the readings?

So far so good. But who and how do we share it with in the very place where we work? Is there anyone at the end of the line? Oh dear, again ‘lost in translation’? Let’s hope for the best…

  1. From ‘translating the loss’ to ‘on-going re-specification’?

The previous two tales share something. They show two situations of a crisis with regards to what STS could be, and an attempt at changing its forms and contents, where we can witness the sheer complexities of seeking to generate overall conditions of change or transformations through these meagre trials and proposals: the joyful and horizontal politics of a prototypical network into transformations at the level of institutions, in the first case; or the contained, narrow, and humble teaching experiments searching to make ‘more sensitive’ architecture students who never felt they needed us–and nobody knows if they are ever going to use what we made them do, in the second one.

Translations that, no wonder, work somehow imperfectly and in strange ways. Yet, we have to resist the temptation of falling into despair, and believing that all we ever do is reaching dead ends. Could it be that the problem lies in how we address these issues as ones of ‘translation’? In a way, this was an old ANT tenet dwelling on the common Latin etymology of translation and treason, which has been captured beautifully in the Italian adagio traduttore, traditore, showing the difficulties and the many cases of untranslatability.

But I’d like to conclude in a less bleak tone, by briefly exploring another trope I think could help us address better what is at stake in these situations, or even find a way to discuss what STS might be allowing us to do when we want to intervene the form, format, and content of our ecology of practices and that of our counterparts in moments of feeling ‘lost in translation’.

In both cases what I think is a stake is not how to ‘scale up’ or merely ‘transpose’ methods, manifestos or ideas from one place to another but how to learn the local art of ‘re-specifying.’ What if that was our task, permanently, whenever we move from one place, discipline or context to another? That is, to re-specify our goals and aims, which means that we have to recalibrate, unlearn and relearn from the context in which we operate, as well as enter in situations that might change us forever, so that we could try to enact an opening.

In all fairness none of the two stories I told could be deemed as ‘failures.’ Indeed, they show that situations have a degree of play, however difficult it might be to find the appropriate tension in which they might become meaningful. Hence, to re-specify might be to open pores, networks, modes of being together and caring for each other’s arguments. Something like third spaces–that is, spaces that are neither fully academic nor fully non-academic, neither fully anthropological nor fully architectural, to use my examples.

What if we were to be always opening up spaces in-between? What if the only way in which our experiences from one place to another could work was to endlessly open up such third spaces of re-specification without wanting to take control of the situation? In a way that was the Zapatista issue: ‘changing the world without taking control.’[8] However, and precisely in that same Zapatista sense, I don’t mean any of this as an apostle of anything, since we would always need to re-specify even what the preachers say.

I feel that third spaces are always about the concrete and the singular, about what happens, what gathers us in a common experiential tissue. So they cannot be premised on what happened elsewhere. These third spaces should be put together grounding on what in the book In defence of school Masschelein and Simons call ‘free time’[9]–which, by the way, is the Greek etymology for the English term school, skholē. And that is what those third spaces, those pores or networks are all about: lending us time, giving time to each other to ‘re-specify’… Otherwise there’s no learning, because, in a way learning cannot but be to become another, to share our conditions of ‘study’ with others.[10]

These third spaces I am referring to might only work when they are characterized by their intimacy and a certain trust: the intimacy to fail and to err, together, in our re-specifications. And because of that they take an awful time to develop, and a lot of care, since they are constantly on the verge of being shut down. But the experimentation they afford might indeed open up potentialities, modes of doing and mutually sustaining each other in bleak times like this…

Could we now, here, open up one of these spaces? Hence, where do we start?


[1] As expressed by Daniel López in the video produced for the #3esCTS:

[2] See

[3] See

[4] See

[5] See

[6] See

[7] See

[8] Cf. Holloway, J. (2005). Change the world without taking control (New edition). London: Pluto Press.

[9] Masschelein, J; Simons, M. (2013). In Defence of The School: A Public Issue. Leuven: E-ducation, Culture & Society Publishers (I wish to thank Ester Gisbert for her strong recommendation of this book!).

[10] Cf. Harney, S., & Moten, F. (2013). The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions.

Image credits

Postcard of Benjamin Baker’s human cantilever bridge model


Estados alterados: Un taller catártico-terapéutico para pensar el Estado de los STS (Red esCTS)

Llamada a participación

Formato especial del encuentro de la Red esCTS en Lisboa, 7-9 junio 2017

Organizado por Nizaiá Cassián, Gonzalo Correa & Tomás Sánchez Criado


Estados alterados: Hoy en día se nos aparecen Estados por todas partes, pero en los estados más diversos. Los nacionalismos los toman para sí, los miman, los cuidan (a sus des-maneras) y los reclaman para reivindicar las fronteras de la pureza unitaria, inventando a veces nuevas formas del fascismo. Un runrún neoliberal nos los quiere recortar a toda costa, privatizándolos o externalizándolos. Mientras tanto, movimientos vecinales y ciudadanos de diferente tipo reivindican y practican otras formas de lo público y de lo común no estatal. Nuevos municipalismos, plataformas y colectivos ciudadanos movidos por la idea de un gobierno de los ciudadanos, experimentan con diferentes formatos y dispositivos de toma de decisiones:  nuevos objetos, nuevos laboratorios y ensoñaciones institucionales que producen grietas, pero que en ocasiones abren también muy diferentes formas de estabilización o coqueteos con formas alternativas de gestión, pobladas por nuevos expertos y técnicos con sus métodos alterados y alterantes. Pero también tenemos la incesante y perpetua producción de siempre nuevas formas de exclusión, con sus barreras morales (más o menos bienpensantes), sus fronteras y muros, sus desclasados y parias, y sus formas de arreglárselas al margen del estado.

Estados que son estados de ánimo: de esperanza, de desesperación, de alegría, de inquietud, de satisfacción, de experimentación en la incertidumbre, de indignación, de tristeza, de miedo, de paranoia o de control. Estados que son estados de cosas: donde se acomodan, congregan, dispersan y predisponen los cuerpos, con sus posiciones, disposiciones e indisposiciones.

Estados alterados: es una llamada a re-pensar el Estado de los STS. Esto es, no sólo a reflexionar sobre la manera en que se ha pensado la cuestión del Estado desde los STS, sino también las maneras en que nos relacionamos con sus diferentes esencializaciones y desencializaciones: el modo en que intervenimos en sus configuraciones diversas, las palabras e imágenes que ponemos en juego para hacerlos inteligibles, los métodos con que operamos y fabricamos distintos límites y topologías, en que lo dotamos de cuerpo o lo descorporeizamos, lo espoleamos o lo zancadilleamos. Y más particularmente cómo pensar o fabricar desde los STS una relación con lo estatal en estos particulares tiempos de crisis (crisis del estado de bienestar, pero también crisis del bienestar del estado; o de nuestros lenguajes, de los intersticios, complicidades y figuraciones de las que nos dotamos para dar cuenta de ello).

Quizá este sea el momento de pensar cómo alterar nuestras estados, cómo dar estabilidad a otras formas de lo im/posible, cómo repensar el Estado de los STS, librando la catarsis a las manos de una terapéutica colectiva.

Estados alterados: se propone como un taller catártico-terapéutico para alterarnos, trabajando las diferentes maneras en que los STS han alterado su mirada sobre lo estatal, así como sobre las formas en que nuevas alteraciones pudieran traer consigo una alteración relevante de esas maneras de mirar, hacer e intervenir en tiempos revueltos y convulsos. Para ello, nos convocamos a enviar distintos estados alterados, reflejados, pensados o imaginados a través de artefactos, objetos, viñetas etnográficas, materiales fotográficos o sonoros, fragmentos de noticias o discursos, definiciones académicas o disquisiciones peregrinas. Estados alterados que den cuenta de diferentes tipos de alteración, que nos obliguen a dirimir qué alteración requieren esos estados alterados.

El taller Estados alterados consistirá en (1) una breve contextualización para luego (2) presentar distintos estados alterados que sirvan de material clínico para nuestra exploración. Posteriormente (3) invitaremos a las participantes a reunirse en grupo para re-presentar, re-pensar y re-imaginar esas distintas alteraciones (en formato collage, actuación, o la alteración que se haga disponible). Finalmente (4) cada grupo ensayará una propuesta de catarsis colectiva, un modo de alterarse y relacionarse con esos estados alterados.

Envíanos tus propuestas de estados alterados a: | Fecha límite: 30 de abril de 2017

STS/CSIS, UC Davis – Food For Thought event ‘Technologies of friendship: In search for a diverse common world’

Next Wednesday, April 19th – 12:00 – 2:00 pm I will have the great pleasure and honour to show my work at a STS/CSIS Food For Thought event at UC Davis (many thanks to Marisol de la Cadena for her invitation!).

Venue: STS/CSIS Conference Room (SSH Building #1246) | For those of you around, please register here

Technologies of friendship: In search for a diverse common world

The intense co-existence afforded in Spanish indignados protests by public space occupations had the unexpected effect of forging unprecedented relations and forms of affective politicisation. This had a huge impact in the activism around ‘functional diversity:’ transforming a self-representational fight by independent-living activists to substitute ‘dis/ability’ and ‘residential care’ framings into a wider exploration on how to enjoy and do things together with previously strange others. Drawing on my ethnographic engagement in the activist design collective En torno a la silla (ETS) emerging in that context, I will explore the register of friendship to narrate the intimate entanglements developed thereon: reclaiming the means to increase the conditions of access between bodily diverse people they delved into processes of collaborative prototyping and spatial intervention to remediate disabling body-environment nexuses impeding them to develop stronger bonds; and crafted meetings and documentation interfaces to articulate or share the experiences there made available, making newer alliances possible. From the very beginning their aim was not just the ‘inclusion’ of ‘disabled people’ through newer ‘technical aids’, but the sheer experimentation with spaces of encounter, bringing to the fore what ETS referred to as ‘technologies of friendship.’ Far from referring to ready-made commodities enabling a distinctive and static ontology of relations, this term designates frail and careful cosmopolitical explorations of the appropriate forms of relatedness, a recursive material opening up of friendship between bodily diverse strangers who might otherwise never meet were it not for their troublesome search for inhabiting and forging a diverse common world.

Image credits

Sinergia” CC BY-NC-SA by negrescolor

IH, CCHS-CSIC | Seminario de Investigación: “Estados del cuidado: Para una genealogía del bienestar en crisis”



Miércoles, 15 de Marzo 2017, 12-13:30, en la Sala Gómez Moreno 2C del Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales del CSIC (C/Albasanz 26-28, Madrid), estaré presentando algunos elementos de mi trabajo etnográfico reciente y su contextualización.

Organiza: Grupo de Investigacíón “Mundialización y mundialización de la ciencia” (IH, CCHS-CSIC)

Estados del cuidado: Para una genealogía del bienestar en crisis

‘Estados del cuidado’ quisiera ser una indagación no sólo de las formas en que los estados han querido arrogarse las competencias y dotarse de infraestructuras para cuidar, sino también del estado en que queda el cuidado por los diferentes modos en que esto se hace. La presentación, aunque resonando sobre el material etnográfico de mi trabajo reciente, tendrá un cariz genealógico. En ella intentaré explorar el bienestar como un concepto y un conjunto de prácticas sociomateriales sometidos en la historia Euro-Americana reciente a numerosas crisis: en un sentido que incluye las derivadas de medidas de austeridad o de los modos de economización neoliberal, pero que quisiera también considerar otras muchas problematizaciones abiertas sobre los asuntos a dirimir o los sentidos de las diferentes transformaciones institucionales. Con la mirada puesta en algunos debates sobre el crítico estado desde su concepción del estado del bienestar español, así como en la historia de algunas de sus transformaciones recientes, quisiera sin embargo prestar especial atención a las formas en que diferentes radicalizaciones de colectivos y profesionales–vinculadas a espacios feministas y LGBTi, movimientos anti-psiquiátricos o relativos a la vida independiente y la diversidad funcional, conectados con un contexto más amplio de debates en el ámbito Euro-Americano–, han venido no sólo articulando ‘críticas’ a diferentes estados de ese bienestar (paternalista y/o asistencialista, expertocrático y/o familista, caritativo y/o institucionalizado, externalizado y/o autogestionado), sino también construyendo alternativas, arreglos o ecologías de soportes y apoyos que pondrían ‘en crisis’ ciertas maneras restringidas de entender el cuidado, ampliando los modos críticos en que pudiera entenderse el bienestar más allá de algunos de sus estados recientes.

Cultural Anthropology – Openings collection on ‘Speed’


The recent Cultural Anthropology, 32(1) contains an Openings collection on “Speed” edited by Vincent Duclos, Tomás Sánchez Criado, and Vinh-Kim Nguyen.

As the presentation of the issue states: ‘In their introductory essay, the editors discuss how they hope to open anthropological practice to speed by offering a “a timely probe into machinic, productive, pressurizing, and largely intangible energetics that operate within, across, and beyond specific social configurations and forms of life.”’

Another end of the world is possible, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre. Photo courtesy of Audrey Bochaton.

Table of Contents

Diseño UC – Workshop interdisciplinario: “Pensar a través de objetos. Conversaciones cruzadas entre Diseño, Arquitectura y Ciencias Sociales”


Workshop interdisciplinario 14 de diciembre de 10-14 en la Escuela de Diseño, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Estudios Urbanos de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Organizan: Martín Tironi, Pablo Hermansen, Renato Bernasconi, Matías Valderrama | Patrocina: Fondecyt Nº 11140042 – The Smart Citizen project


– Prototipo como dispositivo cosmopolítico. Etnografía de prácticas de diseño en el Zoológico Nacional de Chile (Pablo Hermansen & Martín Tironi)

Escenografía del Retablo de las Maravillas (Ximena Ulibarri)

– Trabajo con tejedoras del Maule Cordillera sobre los usos de los colores (Soledad Hoces de la Guardia)

Monolith controversies (Pedro Alonso & Hugo Palmarola)

– Proyectos del curso diseño y agonismo, como el proyecto de diseño de Álvarez Dumont sobre prácticas activistas de recolección de la naturaleza (Diego Gómez Venegas)

Resistencia gráfica en la Dictadura en Chile (Nicole Cristi)

Pensar con los relaves mineros (Sebastián Ureta)


¿Y si los métodos de investigación no sólo describieran realidades “allí afuera”, sino que también contribuyeran a la elaboración de formas de realidad? Esta es la hipótesis de partida de numerosas reflexiones en el ámbito de los Science and technology studies (STS) (Callon, 1999; Law & Urry, 2004; Lury & Wakeford, 2012), que pueden ayudarnos a generar puntos de encuentro interesantes entre Arquitectura, Ciencias Sociales y Diseño.

Según estos trabajos, los métodos no se limitan a describir el mundo tal cual es, sino que también provocan aquello que dicen describir (Callon, 1999). Esto plantea al menos la cuestión de cuáles son las “políticas ontológicas” de esos métodos (Law & Mol, 1999; Urry, 2004): esto es, dado que la realidad no preexiste al repertorio de prácticas, teorías y métodos empleados para aproximarse a ella, las prácticas de investigación sobre la vida social nunca son neutrales ni desencarnadas, sino enunciados ad hoc para ciertos fines prácticos. Por ello, debemos entender qué realidades traen o no a la presencia estos métodos y, por tanto, qué formas de compromiso y de comprensión de los problemas describen o plantean.

En este sentido, los métodos y protocolos de investigación de cada disciplina no sólo demandan ser evaluados según sus propósitos y fines, sino también exigen ser examinados como objetos de estudio en sí mismos, desentrañando la ‘vida social’ en la que surgen y los efectos que despliegan (Law & Ruppert, 2013; Savage, 2013). Por otra parte, producto de la introducción de diferentes dispositivos de investigación, de la apertura de inexplorados campos de estudio, del creciente interés por mirar más allá de los límites metodológicos convencionales y de las posibilidades que trae el trabajo interdisciplinario, actualmente diversos investigadores están explorando formas más experimentales para comprender y explicar el mundo social, ya sea en sus formatos de colaboración y difusión como en en sus estrategias de intervención y producción de conocimiento (Back & Puwar, 2012; Marcus, 2013). Muchas realidades se mantendrían opacas si no se asumiera seriamente la incorporación de nuevos dispositivos e instrumentos de observación y análisis que permitieran rediseñar los repertorios disponibles para para aproximarse, tangibilizar y hacer hablar la realidad (Callon, 2002). En esta dirección por ejemplo, Mike Michael (2012) ha planteado la necesidad de incorporar la figura conceptual del “idiota” propuesta por Deleuze y Stengers para provocar cambios en las metodologías convencionales, provocando situaciones especulativas.

¿Qué repertorios metodológicos son necesarios para hacerse permeable a dimensiones ‘más que humanas’, rastreando los procesos inciertos y enredos múltiples que caracterizan nuestra vida social (Asdal, Druglitrø y Hinchliffe, 2016; Law, 2004)? ¿Cómo incorporamos la agencia de los materiales y métodos desplegados en los procesos de investigación? ¿Qué tipos saberes encarnados y materializados producen los diseñadores y arquitectos que desafían las formas de producción de conocimiento de las ciencias sociales, y al mismo tiempo, qué saben las cosas y materialidades que los humanos desconocemos?


Este workshop busca específicamente explorar los desafíos empíricos y teóricos que plantea “pensar a través de objetos” (dispositivos análogos y digitales, maquetas, prototipos, imágenes, visualizaciones, datos, intervenciones, sensores…) en la producción de conocimiento sobre la vida social. Alejándose de la presunción positivista que pretende una ciencia abocada a la producción de leyes universales y considerando sus métodos como estáticos, el interés del taller será reflexionar sobre formas de investigación social que articulen, en sus procedimientos y colaboraciones, lo material y objetual como medio de captura y acompañamiento de la realidad estudiada.

Queremos indagar en los diálogos posibles entre repertorios y materialidades que le son propios al saber proyectual de la Arquitectura y el Diseño (maquetas, diagramas, prototipos, modelos, imágenes, visualizaciones…), relacionándolos con las preocupaciones de las ciencias sociales respecto a cómo re-materializar los procesos, prácticas y métodos de investigación social, así como a los modos en que estos métodos transforman nuestras realidades (Lury & Wakeford, 2012). Se buscará reflexionar sobre las características que presentan investigaciones que reconectan, en su proceso indagativo, con lo material y objetual, ya sea como estrategia de especulación o intervención y testeo o como compromiso político con la realidad estudiada.

Para reconocer puntos de hibridación necesitaremos prestar atención a las diferentes “ecologías de prácticas”, término empleado por Stengers (2011) para referirse a la divergencia y fragilidad de diferentes maneras de sentirse obligado a practicar una forma de conocer. Es decir, será relevante interrogarse sobre las diferentes obligaciones y condiciones socio-materiales que estas “ecologías de prácticas” plantean hacia los investigadores y sobre el trabajo necesario para poder forjar nuevas maneras de sentirse obligados o concernidos por nuevas problemáticas respetan- do las diferencias entre distintos modos de conocer. Sólo así podremos repensar las condiciones que hacen posible experimentaciones metodológicas que ponen en crisis los límites restrictivos de la práctica científica disciplinar.

Este Workshop Interdisciplinario contará con la presencia de Tomás Sánchez Criado, quien hará una breve introducción a las relaciones entre antropología y diseño. Para ello, en un primer lugar, Sánchez Criado analizará su actual práctica docente como científico social en el Departamento de Arquitectura de la Universidad Politécnica de Múnich. En segundo lugar, reflexionará sobre su práctica investigadora, comparando la producción de “dispositivos de campo” para la colaboración etnográfica (Sánchez Criado & Estalella, en prensa) con los procesos de articulación de “interfaces documentales” (Sánchez Criado & Cereceda, 2016) para la comunicación y transformación de las relaciones entre usuarios y diseñadores en distintas prácticas de la arquitectura participativa. El objeto de esta analogía será plantear una reflexión sobre la construcción recursiva de “objetos de estudio” que son también “objetos para el estudio”, permitiendo tender puentes interdisciplinarios, así como resaltar las diferencias entre diferentes modos de pensar a través de los objetos.


* Texto requerido: Introduction: Experimental Collaborations, de Tomás Sánchez Criado y Adolfo Estalella.

– Introducción: Tomás Sánchez Criado (15 minutos).
– Provocación (10 minutos): Los organizadores del taller escenificarán ciertos problemas concretos que surgen en la práctica investigativa con objetos y dispositivos en Diseño con animales y sensores.
– Conversación y debate entre los participantes (10 minutos).
– Cada uno de los participantes del taller tendrá 10 minutos para presentar un caso de investigación donde interac- túen conocimiento, materialidad e intervención. Cada participante está invitado a traer imágenes, audios u objetos que hagan perceptible su caso de investigación.
– Comentarios cruzados a las presentaciones.
– Cierre y conclusiones.



Asdal, K., Druglitrø, T., & Hinchliffe, S. (Eds.). (2016). Humans, Animals and Biopolitics: The More-than-human Condition. London: Routledge.

Callon, M. (1999). “Ni intellectuel engagé, ni intellectuel dégagé: la double stratégie de l’attachement et du d’détachement ». Sociologie du travail, 41 (1), 65–78.

Callon, M. (2002). Writing and (Re)writing Devices as Tools for Managing Complexity. In J. Law & A. Mol (Eds.), Complexities. Social Studies of Knowlegde Practices. Book Section, Durhamn: Duke University Press.

Back, L. & Puwar, N. (2012). A manifesto for live methods: provocations and capacities. The Sociological Review, 60(S1), 6-17.

Law, J., & Urry, J. (2004). Enacting the social. Economy and society, 33(3), 390-410.

Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. London: Routledge.

Law, J. & Ruppert, E. (2013). The social life of methods: Devices. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(3), 229-240.

Lury, C., & Wakeford, N. (Eds.). (2012). Inventive methods: The happening of the social. Routledge.

Marcus, G. (2013). Experimental forms for the expression of norms in the ethnography of the contemporary. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 3(2), 197-217.

Marres, N. (2012). The redistribution of methods: On intervention in digital social research, broadly conceived. The Sociological Review, 60 (S1), 139-165.

Michael, M. (2012). De-signing the object of sociology: Toward an ‘idiotic’ methodology. The Sociological Review, 60(1): 166–183.

Mol, A. (1999). Ontological politics: A word and some questions. En J. Law y J. Hassard (eds.), Actor network and after. Oxford and Keele: Blackwell and the Sociological Review, 74-89.

Savage, M. (2013). The ‘Social Life of Methods’: A Critical Introduction. Theory, Culture & Society 30(4), 3-21.

Sánchez Criado, T., & Cereceda, M. (2016). Urban accessibility issues: Techno-scientific democratizations at the documentation interface. City, 20(4), 619–636.

Sánchez Criado, T. & Estalella, A. (en prensa) Introduction: Experimental Collaborations. En Estalella, A., & Sánchez Criado, T. (Eds.). Experimental Collaborations: Ethnography through fieldwork devices. Oxford: Berghahn.

Stengers, I. (2011). Comparison as a Matter of Concern. Common Knowledge, 17(1), 48–63.

Diseño UC – Charla: “Cacharreos documentales: Etnografía y co-producción de conocimientos”


El próximo 14 de diciembre a las 19.00 estaré en Santiago de Chile y gracias a la amable invitación de Martín Tironi presentaré en la Escuela de Diseño, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Estudios Urbanos de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile una versión en castellano del argumento del libro Experimental collaborations que he venido editando recientemente junto a Adolfo Estalella.

Este viaje a Chile lo realizaré desde Montevideo, puesto que en las dos semanas previas estaré dando un curso y un laboratorioen la Maestría en Psicología Social de la Facultad de Psicología de la Universidad de La República junto con Gonzalo Correa e Isaac Marrero.

Aquí os dejo más información de título y resumen de la charla en Santiago.

Cacharreos documentales: Etnografía y co-producción de conocimientos

La figura de la experimentación parece haber capturado irremediablemente la imaginación etnográfica desde hace dos décadas. En esta presentación quisiera revisitar diferentes trabajos que en antropología han venido reflexionando sobre las transformaciones en los modos de practicar y llevar a cabo trabajo y relatos de campo en numerosos sitios de la contemporaneidad. A partir de algunos casos de mi trabajo etnográfico reciente, quisiera prestar especial atención a aquellos procesos en los que la etnografía tiene lugar a través de intervenciones sociales y materiales que convierten el campo en un lugar para las colaboraciones epistémicas. A través de éstas y, sobre todo, en su despliegue a través de lo que podríamos llamar ‘dispositivos de campo’ la etnografía puede convertirse en un espacio donde las contrapartes etnográficas participan en la construcción conjunta de problematizaciones antropológicas. En esas situaciones, los tropos tradicionales del encuentro etnográfico (por ejemplo, la inmersión o la distancia) dan paso a un relato centrado en la intervención, donde la estética de la colaboración en la producción de conocimiento sustituye o se híbrida con distintas formas de observación participante. Partiendo de todas estas reflexiones, el concepto de ‘colaboraciones experimentales’ se propone para describir y conceptualizar la singularidad de esta modalidad etnográfica.

Lugar: Sala Lámpara, Edificio de Diseño, Campus Lo Contador, El comendador 1916, Providencia, Santiago de Chile