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Cargo Ships and Comrades: On the Occasion of the Beached Ever Given

Photo of a closed door on the exterior breezeway of a cargo ship, painted white with red lettering stenciled onto it that reads, "Suez Crew Room."

In 2018, we took a cargo ship from Barcelona to New York City and made a short film called Slop Chest [1] about the blurry distinction between work and leisure when you live where you work—and can’t leave. Here, we describe some of our experiences on board, drawing resonances between the labor practices in international shipping and in Amazon’s warehouses. Writing while the cargo ship Ever Given is blocking all trade through the Suez Canal and while Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama, are preparing to count votes in favor of unionization, we speculate about how these two events resonate. What are contours of this conjuncture? There are three separate crews on board our ship: the officers, the engineers, and the deck crew who are responsible for maintaining the ship and keeping watch. The captain is Polish and the officers are similarly white and eastern European. The engineers are mostly the (read more...)

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World Clock at Alexanderplatz, Berlin

On Online News Making, Cultural Translation, and Journalism Industry in Exile

Journalism is under attack in many contexts from Hungary to the United States. In Turkey, the situation is not different. Autocracy changed the profession radically and forced some journalists to live in exile. However, transnational online journalism offers greater freedom of expression for those who can no longer take part in journalistic practices in their country but need to continue doing their job at a distance. Technological capabilities allow journalists to engage in cross-border collaboration and to establish transnational solidarity ties. Considering that journalism is inherently language- and context-bound, as it was born and raised within the nation-state, how is it possible to make news from within a foreign context and from a distance? (read more...)

A hand flipping through the phone Clubhouse app; in front of a Clubhouse app

A Sandbox for a Specific Type of Narcissist – Clubhouse, the Allure of Live Audio and Dangerous Rabbit Holes

A nasal voice is rambling on in a long monologue about how to best pitch a startup on Clubhouse when I log on sometime in March. It is early morning UK time, late at night in California and this room is mostly populated by technology entrepreneurs, people that work at the big tech companies, and venture capital investors from the West Coast of the US. Eventually, another Californian accent interrupts the first one: (read more...)

A man is selling fruit out of the booth of his car

Entrepreneurship and Technologies

Everyone is an entrepreneur – a new ethos is sweeping through our economic world. While the promises of ‘being your own boss’ and ‘deciding about your working hours’ are surely appealing to many, what is at times forgotten are the effects such an ethos has on the structures of work and labour, on relationships both economic and more widely. The flipside of this updated version of the American dream and the (false) promise of meritocracy have always been self-responsibilisation and dangers of reproducing structural inequality. (read more...)

A man and a woman, presumably a cis heterosexual couple, holding hands. There is a text that reads, “Do HIV positive people getting treatment need to use protection during sex?”

Screenshots of the Field: Viral Loads and the Contagious Potentials of Digital Ethnography

Over the course of the past six months, I have been actively doing fieldwork on HIV care in Turkey on Zoom. Believe it or not, for an anxious person like myself, who to this date did not approach or talk to anyone in the field without being completely soaked in sweat, I have actually been enjoying doing research online. I recognize the “anxieties, challenges, concerns, dilemmas, doubts, problems, tensions, and troubles” that arise from digital fieldwork, particularly given that the quality of being virtual does not guarantee exemption from gendered, ableist, and racialized violence. However, these issues do not exhaust the methodological possibilities and relational potentials of online research, which I address in this blog post. (read more...)

Image of a laptop screen displaying a page from the 6S 2020 workshop online collaboration platform. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/6s-2020-who-participating

Building Collaborative Habits, Establishing Sustaining Relations: What is the Role of a Scholarly Society Today?

For decades, the in-person academic conference has been a core aspect of the scholarly society’s mandate and programming. But the disruption COVID-19 has brought to in-person travel has amplified the need to grapple with critiques that were already growing about the format of the annual academic conference. Anand Pandian (2018), for one, has noted the incredible carbon footprints produced by such gatherings of scholars and academics, as well as questions of equitable access considering the cost and barriers to travel which often restrict already precarious and marginalized scholars from attending. In addition to rethinking fieldwork in COVID-19 times (see the Platypus Blog’s series on fieldwork amid the pandemic and the Patchwork Ethnography manifesto as examples), we call for deep reflection on the role of a scholarly society, as sociotechnical infrastructure, in supporting diverse collaborative relations. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities that were already at play in who can attend the in-person annual academic conference. In paying attention to the scholarly society as sociotechnical infrastructure, we believe there is an opportunity to contribute to thinking about what a radical break with the ways that academic social networks have thus far been established might look like, as well as contribute to new anthropological theory-making. (read more...)

Water Reservoir showing the depression in which water accumulated and walls that dammed the outflow of water from it

Assembling an Actor-Network Theory Archaoelogy

When I first thought of putting Science and Technology Studies (STS) and archaeology in conversation, several aspects of this conversation seemed obvious. Given that things and human interactions with things are central to both fields of inquiry, I thought that it would largely be a discussion about epistemologies and the way that the “social,” as a field of action, is constructed by both disciplines. (read more...)

Four row houses on 13th Street and W Street, SE in historic Anacostia.

Airbnb’s Location Ratings as Anti-Black Spatial Disinvestment in Washington D.C.

In 2016, Airbnb host Synta Keeling appeared on NPR’s Hidden Brain to share her story of hosting as a Black woman living east of the Anacostia River. She recounts what a white male guest told her after a day out in D.C., “I was the only white person on the bus, and it was all these black people. And I asked myself, were they going to hurt me? Am I unsafe? And then I realized they weren’t hurting me and nothing was going to happen to me. Like, they were just sitting there normal.” [1] (read more...)