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Platypus in 2022

A person taking picture with their phone in a dark room with blue digital art projected on the walls

As the new year and the new semester have been off to (hopefully) a good start, Platypus is coming back to work too. Building on a decade of work (this year Platypus turns 10!), in 2022, we will continue our commitment to providing a platform for diverse voices and critical scholarship at the intersection of anthropology and STS. We have a new team, new projects, and a great deal of enthusiasm, as always. We can’t wait to offer our readers more experimental and multimodal content (powered by Platypus’s biggest team of talented multimodal contributing editors to date!), increase the linguistic accessibility of Platypus’s materials (possible with the support of invaluable multilingual volunteers!), and widen the spectrum of genres and means of academic expression (supported by our brilliant web producer and contributing editors). Stay tuned! (read more...)

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A driveway leads to a free standing garage with green doors locked by a padlock. On the left a thick row of hedges follows the driveway. On the right a bay window with green frame extends over a narrow strip of grass.

Innovation and its discontents

“I’ll never be a billionaire. Now I help other people try to get there, but I just don’t have the emotional well.” These words from a tech company founder-turned-startup-coach would once have surprised me, prompting frantic scribbling in my field journal. One year into an anthropological study of futurists, strategists, designers, and foresight practitioners in Silicon Valley, however, I only nodded and noted the timestamp on my recorder. These once unexpected expressions of emotional and psychological depletion had turned out to be commonplace, imposing themselves to the point of dominating many of our research interviews. (read more...)

A yellow version of the Spot robot stands besides men in military garb

Automating the Beast: Modern Police Power and the (Digi)Dog

As an undergraduate, I worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. For one of those jobs, I was a kennel attendant at a veterinary clinic and  earned $7.75 an hour. I was responsible for caring for dogs that were kept in the boarding facility while their (usually affluent) owners were out of town on business or vacation. I kept track of every dog’s diet, administered medications, and took them out for bathroom breaks. It was, without a doubt, the most thankless and exploitative job I’ve ever had. However, I did enjoy the relative solitude and the company of dogs. (read more...)

The logo of the 4S 2021 conference: thin black lines in a dense tangle overlay abstract color blocks in yellow, orange, and turquoise.

Confronting Legacies of Toxic Goodness: Speculative Reflections from the 4S 2021 Annual Meeting

This piece was originally posted on November 24, 2021 on the EnviroSociety blog here. To cite, please use the following: Caporusso, Jessica, Duygu Kaşdoğan, and Katie Ulrich. 2021. “Confronting Legacies of Toxic Goodness: Speculative Reflections from the 4S 2021 Annual Meeting.” EnviroSociety Blog, November 24. https://www.envirosociety.org/2021/11/confronting-legacies-of-toxic-goodness-speculative-reflections-from-the-4s-2021-annual-meeting/. Renewable energies, green/blue/bio-economies, waste management systems, as well as sustainable agriculture and aquaculture hold within them the possibility of working towards a “Greater Good,” however, “goodness” is frequently built on toxic colonial and capitalist processes that are rendered invisible through sustainability discourse. How can good practices, relationships, and things be cultivated in an environment where toxicants, toxic politics, and toxic relationalities are constantly reproduced? How do toxic production systems—based on extractivism, colonialism, and plantation capitalism—foment new forms of sustainability that cannot be excised from these deadly foundations? (read more...)

A placard from a climate change protest with "Disabled people for future!" written on it with a small size disability icon on bottom left of the placard and a small size world on fire icon on bottom right of it

Moving Towards Disability

December 3rd is the UN’s International Day for People with Disabilities. The theme of 2021 was “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”. Of course, 2021 has hardly been a post-COVID world; and the social and health effects of the pandemic continue to place people with disabilities at risk. According to the UN, days of recognition work to celebrate, educate, and ‘mobilize political will’ (https://www.un.org/en/observances). These days of recognition are often for complex problems and, as CASTAC’s 2020 post says, the next question is What Happens The Day After? (Borodina 2020). This year I would like to present a brief case for how and why we, in STS and anthropology, can take up Disability as a lived reality and analytic for our work. I discuss disability as a category and its implications and then present two possible frameworks for its incorporation. (read more...)

Photomontage of newspaper articles and photos thematically united around the topic of unemployment

Insights on Entrepreneurship and Non-Salaried Labor in Latin America

The problem of unemployment and underemployment in Argentina emerges as acutely pressing and very complex. The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses’ last report on Argentina shows some relevant data. 27.4% of 12 million of the economically active Argentinian population are non-salaried workers. At the same time, the unemployment rate is at 9.6%, and underemployment is at 12.4%. 40.6% of the population lives below the “poverty line” (INDEC, 2021). In 2017-2018, when I conducted field research in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian government had accrued significant debt with the International Monetary Fund, leading to profound economic and social adjustment policies, thus exacerbating these already pressing issues. Understanding the problem of the economic disenfranchisement of the Argentinian population is, however, a challenging task. Take, for example, the internationally acclaimed reports from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, known to reproduce hegemonic neoliberal ideology. Although informal work, self-employment, and unemployment feature (read more...)

Enigmas of Corporeal Justice: Surrogacy and Legality in India

Over the last two decades, India has become a popular global destination for what is commonly referred to as reproductive tourism, wherein clients travel from one part of the world to another to seek biomedical interventions to help them have children. Breakthroughs in assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), have led to a boom in surrogate pregnancies as a means of having children, with international clients (mostly from the Global North) flocking to countries in the Global South, like India, to avail of these services. Like much of the medical tourism industry, this movement is motivated by access to state-of-the-art medical facilities, skilled professional care, along with remarkably low costs and the availability of poor bodies to extract from. (read more...)

A word cloud linking the frequency with which the words were used is reflected in the words in the depiction. It is dominated by the words "emotional", "cramps", and "breasts". The words "swings", "tender", "bloating", "acne", and "swings" were also popular.

Who Decides What We Measure in Health Tech?

At present, there are several problems in women’s health that still remain poorly characterized and understudied. In my research on one such issue, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), it is clear that one of the largest challenges is for studies to capture the complexity of women’s and cycling people’s experiences – a challenge which, up until now, science has struggled to resolve. (read more...)