Category: Announcements

From Technocracy to the Anthropocene: 2016 in Review

#ALSIceBucketChallenge. Deflategate. Twins in Space. Animal Sex Work. The joy of working on Platypus since its inception arises from the many lively, timely, engaged posts that our team of contributing editors and authors bring to the blog each week. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, often critical and reflective, the blog offers a look into up-and-coming research in anthropology, STS, and related fields on science, tech, computing, informatics, and more. As editor, I’ve delighted in posts that frequently turn commonsense assumptions upside down. For the past two years, I’ve summarized the major themes and highlights in a yearly review post, and have the pleasure of doing so for 2016. Two noteworthy themes threaded through many of last year’s posts: 1) reflections on technocracy, and 2) living in the anthropocene. By technocracy, I mean emerging regimes of data, algorithms, and quantitative living. Melissa Cefkin (Human-Machine Interactions and the Coming Age of Autonomy) opened (read more...)

The More Things Change…

Things are more than a little unsettled, lately. The past ten days since the Inauguration have been a maelstrom of activity, leaving many of us feeling profoundly uncertain about our political, technological, and scholarly futures. Of course, we haven’t been passive. Whatever else it has been, the rise of Trumpism has been an occasion for a great deal of anthropological activity. Anthropologists from around the world have been hard at work attending to the emergence of this phenomenon as both scholars and citizens. If our activities at each of these levels have seemed somewhat disconnected, somewhat divorced from one another, it is perhaps a testament to the profound challenge to our inherited sensibilities, our disciplinary and political commonplaces, represented by the transformations we are witnessing. I think, however, that this is in some respects a constitutive feature of our discipline; anthropology has long been haunted by a tension between its ethical commitment to engagement and its methodological commitment to untimeliness. (read more...)

2017 Message from the Co-Chairs

2016 was a busy year for CASTAC members. The wealth of articles that we can now share through our online directory, books published or soon to be, blog posts made here and elsewhere, and the many great talks in Minneapolis suggest what we have been up to: that is, of course, applying critical anthropological attention to science, technology and computing, and interrogating social practices and systems of meaning and power. We have researched, written, edited, taught, mentored, reviewed, and managed. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot in the works. As an organization, CASTAC has been busy, too. We have continued to grow our presence online, at the AAA meetings, and beyond. In this post, we’ll recap what we’ve been up to this past year and talk about what’s in the works for the year to come. (read more...)

Congratulations to the 2016 Winners of the Diana Forsythe Prize!

Today’s post is brought to you from the 2016 Forsythe Prize Committee, to announce two scholars recognized in this year’s competition. Created in 1998, The Diana Forsythe Prize celebrates the best book or series of published articles in the spirit of Diana Forsythe’s feminist anthropological research on work, science, or technology, including biomedicine. The prize is awarded annually at the AAA meeting by a committee consisting of one representative from the Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) and two from the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing (CASTAC). It is supported by the General Anthropology Division (GAD) and Bern Shen. CASTAC is deeply grateful to all who submitted to the competition, and to Prize Committee members Stefan Helmreich, Nina Brown, and Alexander Edmonds for their efforts on behalf of the Forsythe Prize. Eben Kirksey, Winner, 2016 Diana Forsythe Prize Eben Kirksey’s Emergent Ecologies (Duke University Press, 2015) offers an imaginatively written and highly innovative multi-sited, multi-method ethnography about the doings of a range of human and non-human biological agents, in places from Costa Rica to Panama to the United States. The book takes us to such varied sites as scientific labscapes and landscapes—as one might expect in a work of science studies—but also ushers us into the world of art spaces and galleries, where new kinds of critical eco-art and bio-art are coming into being. Kirksey, in this tale of people, frogs, monkeys, microbes, and more, gives us a vivacious and vital contribution to “multi species ethnography,” a field in which he has been a pioneer. His narrative moves the reader into other species’ phenomenological worlds while also highlighting areas of inter-species connection and entanglement.  (read more...)

Facebook as research field and research platform: an e-seminar

CASTAC is proud to be co-hosting, with the Media Anthropology Network and Digital Anthropology Interest Group, an e-seminar on the many uses of Facebook in anthropological research. The seminar begins today, June 22, 2016, and it is being kicked off with a set of statements [PDF] by researchers whose projects have engaged Facebook, as part of their fieldwork or as a platform for disseminating and discussing their research: Philipp Budka (University of Vienna), Jordan Kraemer (Wesleyan University), Martin Slama (Austrian Academy of Sciences), and Sydney Yeager (Southern Methodist University). All readers of the blog are invited to participate in the discussion. The e-seminar is taking place on the medianthro list, so if you’re interested in joining the conversation, be sure to sign up there. (read more...)

Hello from the CASTAC Co-Chairs!

Last year was a busy one for CASTAC. In addition to the incredible work that our web and Platypus blog team have put into integrating and expanding our existing web presence, we’ve also doubled down on our organizational programming, working to facilitate new collaborations between junior scholars, established faculty, and specialists working in various industries of science and technology. In that follows, we’d like to relate some developments from the past year before shifting focus to the months and years ahead. We’re pleased to report an increase in submissions for the Diana Forsythe Prize, which CASTAC facilitates in conjunction with the Society for the Anthropology of Work and with the support of the General Anthropology Division and Bern Shen. Through their respective books on hacker communities and the normalization of once-extraordinary medical treatment, this year’s award winner Biella Coleman and honorable mention Sharon Kaufman continue Diana Forsythe’s pioneering work at the intersection of anthropology and STS, bringing cultural perspectives to bear on the relationship between technology and social change. Having recognized Coleman and Kaufman at this year’s annual meeting, we would like to congratulate them once again, and thank outgoing award committee chair João Biehl and continuing committee members Stefan Helmreich and Nina Brown for their extensive work on behalf of the Forsythe Prize. (read more...)

Editor’s Welcome 2016

This is an exciting time for CASTAC and the CASTAC Blog. CASTAC hosted a number of well-attended events at November’s Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Denver, including our business meeting, while our website sports a great redesign from returning Web Producer Angela VandenBroek. To ring in the new year here at the CASTAC Blog, I’m continuing our yearly tradition of introducing the new team. When Patricia Lange, Jenny Cool, and I launched the Blog in 2012, we envisioned a collaborative space for discussing emerging work on science, technology, and computing from anthropological and ethnographic perspectives. To quote our About page, our goal was to “to build a thriving discourse among a community of scholars concerned about the implications of techno-science, technologized products, and worldviews for human beings and other forms of life.” We began with a team of two, Patricia and me (plus many generous authors) publishing weekly posts. This took enormous effort on the Editor’s part, which was not sustainable for an all-volunteer operation. So in 2014, Patricia announced our first crackerjack team of Associate Editors who brought in myriad perspectives, their own and those of guest authors. This collective model helps the blog keep pace with boundary-pushing research in anthropology, STS, informatics, and related fields, from graduate students and senior researchers alike, and has modeled how a scholarly blog can link academic conversations to broader public debates. As I begin my second year as the Blog’s Editor, I’m pleased to say we are expanding our editorial team (redubbed Contributing Editors to reflect better their role). We are losing one longtime editor, the intrepid Beth Reddy, stepping down in anticipation of her new role as CASTAC Co-Chair in 2017—thanks, Beth, and congrats! Meanwhile, seasoned editors Todd Hanson, Shreeharsh Kelkar, Ian Lowrie, Lisa Messeri, and Casey O’Donnell are all continuing, along with last year’s new recruits Elizabeth Rodwell, Adam Webb-Orenstein, Emily Wanderer, and Jamie Sherman. Glad to have you all! We’re sad to say good-bye to our Outreach Manager Michael Scroggins, however, who kept the Twitter feed and Facebook page lively this past year. Finally, we are welcoming five new Contributing Editors, many who are longtime Blog and/or CASTAC participants, and who expand the blog’s breadth with an exciting range of interests: Emily Brooks, Elizabeth Hare, Yuliya Grinberg, Sean Mallin, and Jasmine McNealy. Read on to find out more about them. (read more...)

Call for Contributing Editors, 2016

The CASTAC Blog, a weekly, collaborative publication of the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing at the American Anthropological Association (AAA), seeks two to three new Contributing Editors to join our team in January 2016. Deadline to apply: Dec. 11, 2015 Description Contributing Editors are responsible for 4-5 posts yearly, and both contribute original pieces and solicit posts from scholars and researchers in the field. This is a great opportunity to get involved with CASTAC and the Blog, and with the anthropology of science and technology more generally. Topics of interest could include environmental anthro, energy, medical anthropology, disability, animal studies, user experience, social and mobile media, infrastructure, etc. We are open a wide range of topical interests at the intersection of anthropology and STS, especially those that complement our existing ones. CEs must commit to 4-5 post slots at the beginning of the year, and are responsible for submitting the post for review by the Editor and making any necessary revisions, in conjunction with the author (if the post is not by the CE). CEs also find appropriate images to illustrate posts, secure necessary permissions, and format it according to our style guidelines, as well as promote the weekly posts. This is a one-year renewable term, and most CEs find they really enjoy it and want to stay on. Qualifications Interest in or familiarity with blogging, CASTAC, anthropology, STS, & computing, especially from a scholarly perspective and strong written communication skills, especially writing about scholarly topics for broader audiences. Knowledge of WordPress or similar platforms is helpful. To apply Please send a CV, a brief (one paragraph) description of research/topical interests and relevant experience, and a few sentences about what kinds of posts you would bring to the Blog to the Editor, Jordan Kraemer (jkraemer @ wesleyan.edu). Deadline: Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, by midnight PST. (read more...)