Latest

Platypod, Episode Three: Disability, Toxicity, and the Environment

In this episode, Platypod presents a conversation between Elizabeth Roberts (the University of Michigan) and Sophia Jaworski (the University of Toronto). They discuss the complexities of corporeal life in toxic environments. This episode was created with the participation of Elizabeth Roberts (the University of Michigan, speaker), Sophia Jaworski (the University of Toronto, speaker), Svetlana Borodina (Columbia University, host, producer), Gebby Keny (Rice University, host, sound editor), and Angela VandenBroek (Texas State University, CASTAC web producer). The transcript of their conversation is available below. We thank Sophia Jaworski for her work on editing the transcript for comprehension. (read more...)

Recent
In a classroom with large windows on one side, partially obscured by projection screens, a half dozen masked people sit around tables watching a speaker at a podium.

Generations: A Review of AusSTS2022 in Melbourne

In July 2022, early career and PhD Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars met across four locations in Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand) for the fourth Australasian STS Graduate Network Conference (AusSTS2022). Attendees gathered virtually for shared keynote sessions and each node in Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, and Wellington subsequently hosted their own programs, including short presentations and field trips. Our shared theme was “generation,” and AusSTS2022 urged us to reflect on the diverse meanings of this word as temporal, relational, bounded, and multiple, reconsidering the ethical practice of STS in times of crisis. As an interdisciplinary PhD researcher at Deakin University I attended the Melbourne node of AusSTS2022, which this blog post will recount and reflect on. (read more...)

Two Images of Europa, Jupiter's Moon, side by side, photo taken by NASA

All These Worlds Are Yours Except Europa: Building Colonies without Colonization

Beneath Europa’s frozen surface is an ocean thought to contain twice as much water than that on Earth (Planetary Science Communications Team 2021). Above its surface, temperatures are lethal, ranging from -210 degrees Fahrenheit to -370 degrees Fahrenheit (Planetary Science Communications Team 2021). This is the same moon of Jupiter which harbored indigenous life in Robinson’s 2312 (and was protected because of it) (2012). The same moon that Russian cosmonauts were warned to avoid in Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two (1982) due to its geologically unstable nature (fig. 1). The moon named after a Phonecian Princess, who was made the first Queen of Crete after she was abducted and raped by Zeus. (read more...)

Photoshopping Desire: Gender, Caste, and the “Authentic” Self

In an Instagram post by a photographer @photo_paparazzo, we see what the labor of creating a perfect picture looks like. The video, set to trending music, shows a woman in a bridal outfit being helped up a wooden ladder to the roof of a room on a terrace by three men. One of the men is holding a camera. Once the woman is on the roof, the photographer takes the mesh maroon-colored dupatta and wears it over his head, presumably to show the bride how to pose. The text on the video reads, “What goes behind creating that “ONE PERFECT SHOT” for our brides @photo_paparazzo.” The caption reads: “To one of the favourite parts of our job, creating EFFORTLESSLY beautiful portraits and memories for the brides to remember (cry-laughing emoji)…kudos to the team and most important each and every bride of @photo_paparazzo and being the sport of our creativity (red heart emoji).” The video ends with two stunning shots of the bride, captured in the golden yellow light from a setting sun (what is referred to as the golden hour). The video has amassed 6.7 million views, 970 thousand likes, and 1,571 comments. A cursory look at the comments reveals positive reception of the video. The comments range from the use of only emojis (fire emoji, red heart emojis, heart eyes emoji, among others) reflecting appreciation to more overt comments acknowledging and recognizing the efforts put in by the photographers. One particular comment on the post, however, deviates from this general trend and points out how the same effect could have been achieved using far simpler techniques that did not require the bride to be helped up a rickety ladder. Part of the comments reads, “You guys could have easily went to any open space and put her on a stool or something .” The OP (Original Poster) replies to the commenter, “Simple things don’t get you extra ordinary results (upside down smiley emoji).” Another commenter adds to this discourse, “ is photoshop is made for joke 3min work with 2022 edition .” (read more...)

a red muppet with raised arms surrounded by flames

Bioethics Must First Burn

Bioethics must burn before it can be reimagined to enable the flourishing of all humans, and not just the ones that align with or are presupposed by its ideological orientations. By “burning” bioethics, I mean the intentional disruption or damage of citation processes, including who and what is cited within the field– what Sara Ahmed calls the “bricks” (2017, 16) that form the philosophical edifice of the field of bioethics. While the idea of “burning” bioethics may seem to be hyperbolic, the metaphor is apt given the tendency of the field to label any attempt at advocacy on behalf of marginalized persons, including disabled persons, as advocacy and “not bioethics” (for it challenges the idea of what bioethics should be or do). (read more...)

The main façade of the ITINTEC Museum

Interactive Science Museums: Replicating Science Without a Context

“We want a different museum. One where people are not afraid to interact with the objects” were the words of one of the promoters of the ITINTEC museum, the first interactive science museum in Latin America that opened in Peru in 1979 and closed in 1993. During its opening years, this museum became a space for school students to learn about physics and engineering through hands-on activities, where school teachers participated in workshops about science education, and overall, a space where different audiences interacted with science. The museum was part of the Institute of Technological Research, Industry, and Technical Norms, known by its acronym in Spanish as the ITINTEC. However, the museum was not part of the original plans of the institute, and it was impacted by the political context of the military years and the following unstable economic crisis in Peru. Its institutional vulnerability became evident when the institute was transformed into a new agency, the INDECOPI, that focused on intellectual property and industrial competence, where the museum had no place and ended up closing. (read more...)

A slide projected onto a white screen with a graphic of a pill inscribed with the hashtag PrEP Works and a subcaption reading: "The time for debate on the effectiveness of PrEP is over.

PrEP on Trial: the Future of HIV in Indonesian Policy Worlds

In 2012, the first pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs, billed as a pill a day to prevent HIV, were authorized for use in the United States. Heralded as a transformative prevention technology for gay men and trans women in particular, one that encouraged new forms of self-management and risk mitigation practices alongside condoms, testing, and treatment, PrEP has since been incorporated into the global HIV prevention toolkit. In reports, policy documents, and community organizations, PrEP is uniformly described as necessary to accelerate the HIV control response and meet the global target of the “end of AIDS” by 2030. In line with this dominant policy narrative, governments reliant on international donor funding for HIV programs are now encouraged to incorporate PrEP into HIV programs for MSM, transgender women and other “key populations” assessed as meeting a specific risk profile. This is the case for Indonesia, which formally approved PrEP for a trial in 2021 (United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 2021). Although initially announced in 2019 with a considerable degree of community support, Indonesia’s PrEP trial was postponed both due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent bureaucratic delays. Nevertheless, with significant pressure from international donors and support from the Global Fund, USAID, and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a PrEP trial commenced in April 2022 across seven provinces in Indonesia. Key populations who agreed to undertake an array of tests and routine clinical monitoring, would obtain access to a 30-day supply of a single pill combining tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC) – generic Truvada – from one of 34 primary health clinics at no cost. As it circulates in policy, clinical, and community spaces, PrEP is transforming the temporal horizon for HIV in Indonesia and other postcolonial settings where access to healthcare remains thwarted by entrenched global inequalities. (read more...)

Orange Platypus with black headphones

Platypod, Episode Two: Ableism in Anthropology and Higher Ed

In this episode, Platypod presents a conversation between Laura Heath-Stout (Brandeis University) and Rebecca-Eli Long (Purdue University). They discuss their research and experiences of ableism in academia, anthropology, and higher ed, in general. This episode was created with the participation of Laura Heath-Stout (Brandeis University, speaker), Rebecca-Eli Long (Purdue University, speaker), Kim Fernandes (University of Pennsylvania, host), Svetlana Borodina (Columbia University, host), Gebby Keny (Rice University, sound editor), and Angela VandenBroek (Texas State University, CASTAC web producer). The transcript of their conversation (edited for comprehension) is available below. (read more...)