Category: Forsythe Prize Winners

What Would A Techno-Ethics Look Like?

Each year, Platypus invites the recipients of the annual Forsythe Prize to reflect on their award-winning work. This week’s post is from 2017’s winner Sareeta Amrute, for her book Encoding Race, Encoding Class (Duke, 2016). What would a techno-ethics look like? This question persists long after this book, has been written and edited, proofed and published; perhaps it lingers, too, in the minds of its readers as they ponder the pathways and dead-ends digital technologies lay down. Digital technologies build on previous iterations of capital, labor, as well as social and environmental relations, even as they materialize new relations. The part-time visa regimes that most tech companies make use of build on a long history of mobile migrant, free and unfree, labor that has been used to build other kinds of infrastructure, from plantation economies across the British Empire to railroads in the United States and glass-and-steel skyscrapers in Germany. Similarly, the infrastructure of cloud computing relies on previously established military bunkers and railway lines, even as it creates unprecedented demands for energy. An ethical response to these dynamics would produce regimes of care that unite a knowledge of subjects’ evolving relationships with technologies with the goal of reducing spaces of domination created by these technologies. A techno-ethics should provide guidance for those who develop, use, and make polices about technologies. (read more...)

Emilia Sanabria on Bodily Plasticity in Brazil

Each year, Platypus invites the recipients of the annual Forsythe Prize to reflect on their award-winning work. This week’s post is from 2017’s honorable mention Emilia Sanabria, for her book Plastic Bodies (Duke, 2016). In early November of last year, Judith Butler was attacked during her visit to Brazil. She was in Brazil as a member of the organizing committee of a conference on “The Ends of Democracy,” held in São Paulo. Her visit drew protests from the Catholic extreme-right who assumed she was in Brazil to speak about gender and undercut catholic family values by questioning the biological “facts” of sex. (read more...)

Forsythe Prize 2016: Everett Zhang on Chinese medicine, globalization, and embodiment

I am very delighted to receive an honorable mention for the Diana Forsythe Prize from The General Anthropology Division of American Anthropological Association. I am very grateful. I grew up in Maoist China and experienced the early period of post-Mao reform—its excitement as well as its big setbacks before I came to the US. Becoming an anthropologist and contributing to the understanding of this tremendous transformation are two undertakings closely related to each other. Neither is easy, but it was this combination that brought about the book now called The Impotence Epidemic. Starting from the phenomenon—the increasing visibility of a seemingly infamous “epidemic,” I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the relationship between body and society. When I was doing my fieldwork, many of my friends, former schoolmates, former colleagues and acquaintances in China were very surprised at this project, puzzled about my seriousness, and doubtful about its intellectual and academic value. (read more...)

Eben Kirksey, Winner of the 2016 Forsythe Prize, on caring for the future

Each year, Platypus invites the recipients of the annual Forsythe Prize to reflect on their award-winning work. This week’s post is from 2016 winner Eben Kirksey, for his book Emergent Ecologies (Duke, 2016). Surprising hopes can proliferate against the backdrop of seemingly impossible odds, dashed dreams, and disappointing circumstances.[1] Looking to possible futures, rather than to absolute endings, Jacques Derrida celebrated forms of hope that contain “the attraction, invincible élan or affirmation of an unpredictable future-to-come.”[2] “Not only must one not renounce the emancipatory desire,” wrote Derrida, “it is necessary to insist on it more than ever.”[3] In the days after Donald Trump was elected President, as Republicans begin to lock in control of the legislative and judicial branches of the US government, it would be easy for people committed to social and ecological justice to resign the future to fate. Converting despair to hope involves playing with the uneasy alchemy of the pharmakon, that is, turning obstacles into opportunities, transforming poison into a cure. As an emergent social movement in the United States works to trump hate with love, strategies and tactics might be borrowed from Latin American intellectuals who have turned blasted landscapes into flourishing ecosystems, who have worked to ground hopes in shared futures with endangered species. (read more...)