Research: Projects & Collaborative Venues

PROJECTS | COLLABORATIVE VENUES

PROJECTS

Current

-2023-2027. Research line: The body and the city: The knowledge and politics of urban accessibility (PI, Ramón y Cajal fellowship, RYC2021-033410-I, Spanish National Programme of Scientific, Technical and Innovation Research 2021-2023)

In my work as an urban anthropologist, I have researched the relationship between different types of bodies and the city. Particularly, I study how technicians, activists and design teachers have become fascinated and mobilised with urban accessibility. Urban accessibility is a relevant domain for the social sciences for it has developed not only into (a) a political idiom of particular approaches to urban design following an aspiration for technical democracy and spatial justice; but also, into (b) the driver of many new forms of knowledge with and for diverse bodies, creating new forms of expertise in participatory urban design and government, also affecting collaborative ethnographic knowledge-production.

Beyond continuing to work in these domains (I am currently working on a book monograph, titled ‘An uncommon city: Bodily diversity and the activation of possible urbanisms‘, condensing my research from the last ten years), I plan to expand my interests towards the study of ‘ageing cities’ in connection with a growing interest in atmospheric and environmental issues, such as landscape terraforming, extreme weather, pollution/toxicity or interspecies relations.

-2023-2024: Multimodal appreciation: Prototypes for the evaluation and institutionalisation of more-than-textual ethnography (co-PIs: Ignacio Farías, Tomás Criado, Andrew Gilbert, Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology – funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung‘s Open Up programme)

This project takes on an impossible problem. Ethnographers from across the humanities and social sciences have recently experimented with multimodal forms of description, analysis and intervention in order to grasp slippery research objects that otherwise remain outside of the apprehensible. This multimodal turn has resulted in a proliferation of more-than-textual forms that are impossible to classify and at odds with institutionalised modes of disciplinary knowledge production. Despite the important openings created by multimodal works, they are rarely seen as of equal value when compared to articles and monographs. The current situation is problematic but to a certain extent understandable, as peers, reviewers and supervisors are confronted with a complex conundrum: What criteria should be employed to evaluate such multimodal singularities? This project responds to this conundrum through two experimental moments that correspond to the two challenges producing the current impasse, those of evaluation and institutionalisation. The first moment is constituted by a set of immersive exercises designed to describe and compare the affordances of selected more-than-textual or multimodal research artefacts. The second moment is a set of prototyping exercises designed to produce and test a toolkit to facilitate the evaluation and institutionalisation of future multimodal research.

-2021-2022. Trash Games – Playing with the Circular Economy Transition at the Haus der Materialisierung (PI: Vera S. Rotter, Recycling engineering, TU Berlin; Co-PI: Tomás Criado, Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology, HU Berlin – Funded by the Berlin University Alliance’s call for Experimental Science Communication Laboratories)

This is multimodal interventive project on game design as an experimental form of public engagement with science and technology. In particular, it brings together the Chair of Circular Economy and Recycling Technologies (Technische Universität Berlin) and the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) to develop and explore games and game design as formats of public engagement with the Circular Economy (CE). The idea of a circular economy goes beyond current top-down efforts to achieve sustainable development by extending the life of products and the materials they contain through their reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling. We experiment with games as a special form of science communication enabling accessible, speculative and interactive forms of participation of non-homogeneous publics in complex topics. In cooperation with actors of the civic platform “Haus der Materialisierung” – part of the Haus der Statistik, flagship project for community-oriented neighbourhood development in Berlin –, we will develop a game that explores potentials and conflicts in the social transition to a collaboratively managed circular economy.

Stadtlabor’s anthropological research and game design team: Petra Beck, Sebastian Quack, Ignacio Farías & Tomás Criado.

Past

-2015-2018: Accessibility Values: Disability rights movements, political regulations and market devices in the design of urban democracy in Europe (Individual research project)

An ethnographic research project (involving fieldwork, interviews, and archival work) on inclusive urbanism struggles and the creation, implementation, maintenance and supervision of sidewalk democracy projects in Europe, with a focus on Barcelona and Spain. Funded by Assistant Professorship of Participatory Technology Design, Munich Center for Technology in Society & Deparment of Architecture, Technical University of Munich .

– 2012-2014. Participatory experiences in the design of independent living technologies & services (Postdoctoral project at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

An ethnographic research project on different practices of participatory & collaborative design for ‘independent living’ and urban accessibility, taking part as a member of the “En torno a la silla” design collective. Funded by: An Alliance 4 Universities postdoctoral fellowship; and the Spanish National R&D programme 2011-2014 “Political Action of Groups Concerned with the Promotion of Independent Living in Spain (EXPDEM)” (CSO2011-29749-C02-02) research project.

– 2007-2012. The logics of telecare: The fabrication of ‘connected autonomy’ in telecare for older people (PhD in Social  Anthropology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid).

The result of an ethnographic project on home telecare devices for older people in the region of Madrid (Spain), in which I focused on the practices of implementation and use of such devices & services through which certain articulations of ‘users’ as well as care relations and spaces emerged out. Funded by: FPU-UAM 2007-2011 PhD fellowship; FP7 project  2007-2010 “Ethical Frameworks for Telecare Technologies for older people at home (EFORTT)“; and Spanish National R&D programme 2008-2011 research project “Technology and attention to dependence: An analysis of the psychosocial effects of telecare’s implementation” (CSO2008-06308-C02-01/SOCI).

COLLABORATIVE VENUES

– 2022-2025: Digital Curatorial Collective, Cultural Anthropology website (co-curator)

The DCC is comprised of an international team of anthropologists working at the cutting edge of multimodal ethnography. Over the next three years, the DCC will develop a “concept studio” to emphasize the work that the multimodal advances in the discipline.

As a collaborative and conceptual space, the studio will draw together multimodal initiatives across institutions, practices and ethnographic arts as a nexus for a world of anthropologies. The concept studio is thus a meeting and mediating point between an anthropology concerned with production as a model and one that experiments with the sensorial complexities of the more-than-human world. Accessibility provides a model for reflexive, problem-based work that does not prescribe form or content.

The members of the collective are (alphabetically): Joella Bitter, Tomás Criado, Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan, Megan Gette, Andrew Gilbert, Marina Peterson, Jesse Weaver Shipley, and Leniqueca Welcome.

-2020-ongoing: xcol, an ethnographic inventory (co-curator)

A digital inventory––co-curated with Adolfo Estalella (Complutense University of Madrid)––for the documentation of inventive forms of ethnographic inquiry, which seeks to intervene in current forms of anthropological practice and learning.

Its initial development was funded by the Laboratory of Experimental Visual Anthropology (LAAV) of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Castilla y León, Spain (MUSAC). PIs: Adolfo Estalella & Tomás Criado.

The project was awarded the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) ‘Making and Doing‘ Award 2021

-2019-ongoing: Intersticios. Una indagación sobre las artes del encuentro [Interstices: An inquiry into the arts of togetherness] (co-instigator)

A collaborative digital platform in Spanish to experiment––in cooperation with Gonzalo Correa (Universidad de la República, Uruguay)––with conceptual registers inquiring on interstitial matters and the complex arts of togetherness.

-2019-2022: Stadtlabor for multimodal anthropology at the Chair of Urban Anthropology, HU Berlin (Director until end of 2022, Associate Researcher since 2023)

A research platform at the HU Berlin where anthropologists interested in contemporary urban issues explore multimedia formats of knowledge production and intervention in collaboration with other urban actors. We think it is crucial to start blurring the boundaries between practices or formats of knowledge production and those of city-making. Hence, we explore conceptual, speculative and material tools, such as games or archives, to respond to the current crises of modern urbanism.

-2016-2021: Collaboratory for ethnographic experimentation – #Colleex (founder & co-convenor)

#Colleex /kɒli:ɡz/ – An EASA network that aims to open a space for debate and intervention around experimental forms of ethnographic fieldwork. It seeks to explore novel forms of knowledge production for anthropology.