Category: Announcements

Of Camels, Platypuses, and the Future of the Blog

It has been said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. We might think of the platypus in much the same way, though the key difference is perhaps that—as of yet—it is unclear what the Platypus Committee was trying to create. Regardless, the platypus has long been emblematic of the limitations of scientific classification. An egg-laying, duck-billed, poisonous mammal: the only surviving member of its species and genus. It is this persistent and natural spirit of disruption and provocation that led the founders of this blog to christen it with the name of this thoroughly confusing and fascinating creature. Its defiance of orderly categorization serves as both a metaphor and motivation for the continued intersection of anthropology and science and technology studies, sometimes considered strange bedfellows. (read more...)

Call for Editors – 2019

Platypus, the CASTAC Blog, is seeking a new Editor and several new Contributing Editors for our team in 2019! The blog is a weekly, collaborative publication of the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing at the American Anthropological Association. (read more...)

Call for 2018 Contributing Editors!

Editor’s note: If you’re interested in learning more about the position, and will be in DC for the anthropology meetings, be sure to come to the CASTAC business meeting! It runs from 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM on Saturday the 2nd. I’ll be talking about the past year at blog, and would be happy to hang around afterwards and answer any questions folks may have about the contributing editor role.  Contributing Editors are responsible for curating 4-5 posts from scholars and researchers in the field each year, and frequently also contribute to the blog themselves. We are especially interested in contributors eager to continue our podcast series, Down to a Science, and assist the editor with compiling biweekly roundups of interesting and relevant content from around the web. This is a great opportunity to get involved in CASTAC, and in the anthropology of science and technology more generally. We are open to a wide range of topical interests at the intersection of anthropology and STS, especially those that complement our existing ones. Work on information technologies, human-animal relations, biosciences and healthcare, disability, gender, and sexuality are of particular interest. CEs must commit to 4-5 post slots at the beginning of the year. Their responsibilities include communication with guest authors, initial editorial supervision, and managing the production process. This is a one-year renewable term. (read more...)

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...)