Author Archives: Baird Campbell

Baird Campbell is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Rice University. He holds an MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University. His research explores the intersections of social media, self-making, and trans activism in contemporary Chile. His dissertation research was supported by the Social Sciences Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.
Mara Rita sits in a park holding her book, Tropico Mio. She is wearing a black bowler hat, dark rimmed glasses, a printed button down shirt, and a white sweater over it. She is simling.

The Networked Animita: Transgender Remembrance on Social Media

Tomorrow, November 20th, the world will commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to collectively mourn and remember those who have died as a result of transphobia. Started in 1999 by US trans woman Gwendolyn Ann Smith, Transgender Day of Remembrance is now observed in countries around the world, including my primary field site, Chile. In this post, I explore how social media might be understood as a technology of memorialization and mourning, especially for marginalized groups. Inspired by informal roadside shrines called animitas, popular in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America, I propose the ‘networked animita’ as a useful analytic for understanding trans remembrance online. I do so through an exploration of the digital afterlife of Chilean trans activist, educator, interlocutor, and friend Mara Rita Villaroel Oñate. (read more...)

Street art of Donald Trump that has had a Bernie sticker placed over his mouth.

STS and Electoral Politics

In the context of the upcoming US presidential election and increasing evidence of the importance of voting infrastructure, this week we revisit past posts that highlight the key role STS must play in these conversations. (read more...)

A beige slide with a dark blue platypus on the left reads "COVID-19: Views from the Field" A Platypus roundtable with Ashley ThuthaoKeng Dam, Caitlyn Dye, Sonia Qadir, Rebekah Ciribassi, Kristina Jaconsen

Roundtable: “COVID-19: Views from the Field”

We’re wrapping up our five-part series, “COVID-19: Views from the Field,” with a pre-recorded roundtable. This roundtable brought our authors into conversation with each other, across continents and timezones, to discuss conducting—or not conducting—fieldwork in places not understood as COVID-19 “hotspots.” Check out the video here, and follow the links below to read the whole series, also available in the language of each field site. (read more...)

Text graphic that says Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Platypus Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month

In celebration and recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, take a look back at some of our favorite past posts from and about the region. (read more...)

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Meet Our 2020 Contributing Editors!

As we begin another exciting year here at Platypus, we’d like to introduce you to our new group of Contributing Editors. Contributing Editors are responsible both for producing and seeking out content for the blog. If you are interested in contributing something to the blog but aren’t sure how, reach out to the contributing editor who most closely relates to your proposed topic! (read more...)

hundreds of protesters surround and climb an obelisk to plant the mapuche flag against and orange sunset

Before They Erase It: Memory and the social media archive

This afternoon, I began to notice increasingly alarming images, posts, and tweets from my interlocutors in Santiago. It appeared that Santiago was on fire, and that the military was in the streets. Images of familiar streets and landmarks now felt doubly familiar, as their similarity to images taken during the coup of 1973 were undeniable. A quick Google search confirmed my fears; Piñera had declared a state of emergency in response to the student metro protests, that there were already deaths, disappearances, and torture reported, and that a curfew had been implemented. Switching over to Whatsapp, I sent frantic messages to my interlocutors and former host family to check that they were safe (they were.) However, it was clear that—even for seasoned activists—this felt different. Many recalled memories or iconic images of the 1973 coup, wondering if history might be about to repeat itself. As the day progressed, I began (read more...)

The words disability pride, filled with photos of people with different disabilities and their friends and families

Platypus Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

In support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, please enjoy some of our favorite posts engaging with understandings of disability! (read more...)

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Today, in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we bring you a compilation of some of our favorite past posts from the Spanish-speaking world. Happy reading! (read more...)