Category: General

Heritage, Memory, and Infrastructure

There are places and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war – Concord and Lexington, Appomattox, Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character – Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral. Selma is such a place. In one afternoon 50 years ago, so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham; and the dream of a Baptist preacher – all that history met on this bridge. (President Barack Obama, March 2015) Standing on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 March to Montgomery, President Obama delivered these words to honor the traumatic history of Bloody Sunday. With “history me[eting] on this bridge,” the bridge stood as a sinister totem to a period of violence that Obama, as the first Black president, had seemingly redeemed, representing the promise of a new American nation that elected what it had once lynched. (read more...)

Regulating Misinformation from the Global South

India is among the top three internet markets internationally with nearly seven hundred million users. What can debates in India about protecting user privacy under right-wing authoritarian political regimes highlight about social media platforms and the spread of misinformation? In February 2021, the Indian Information Technology, Law and Justice Minister announced wide-ranging regulations over social media firms, streaming services, and digital news outlets that require firms to enable traceability of end-to-end encrypted messages, acknowledge takedown requests of unlawful, misleading, and violent content within twenty-four hours, and deliver a complete redressal within fifteen days. Less sensitive cases, such as those engaging explicit sexual content, are required to be removed within twenty-four hours, and companies are required to establish local offices staffed with senior officials to deal with law enforcement and user grievances. These new regulations pose new challenges for technology giants which count India, Asia’s third-largest economy, as a key overseas market. These gains increasingly struggle with Prime Minister Modi’s government as his promise of muscular economic progress increasingly reveals itself to be ambivalent economic nativism. (read more...)

On Drones and Ectoplasms: Breath of Gaia

(Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of the Thematic Series Data Swarms Revisited) How do concepts such as the human condition, human mind, or collectivity transform in a technologically enmeshed world? And how is our understanding of relationality and agency changed in the context of hybrid tech and built infrastructures, networked systems of control? This ongoing project constitutes an artistic performative reflection on the entanglement between human agency and technological advances. In this project, the artist[1] focuses on aerial multicopter technological systems—also known as drones—emphasizing the idea of interdependency and control within human-nonhuman systems, which are capable of informing the sustainable and collective futures of our world. (read more...)

Community-Based Research is Hard, and Worth It

I began studying the Salt Spring dollar (SSD), a community currency used on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada, for my May-August MA fieldwork period. I had heard about the currency from one of my committee members, and from some former Salt Spring residents I knew. One of the main research questions I outlined was “What the future of the currency might look like?” From the outside, there was a lot of optimism about a currency like this. Many tourists were interested in it, and many residents were proud of it. From the beginning, I knew I would have to take a community-based approach, which meant starting by contacting and meeting with board members of the Salt Spring Island Monetary Foundation, the currency’s issuer. It also meant volunteering with this community organization to exchange the currency at the Saturday market the community holds, which has many artisan goods stands, as well as food producers and prepared food. (read more...)

Reflections on the 2021 AusSTS ‘Situated Practices’ Workshop

The 2021 AusSTS interdisciplinary workshop, hosted by the Deakin University Science & Society Network, was a two-day multi-sited event, bringing together STS researchers from across Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. Based on the theme of ‘Situated Practice’, the workshop combined keynote talks, thematic presentations by postgraduate and early career researchers, and field trips. (read more...)

Harnessing Indeterminacy: The Technopolitics of Hydrocarbon Prospects

Amidst an international crisis sparked by the scandalous confessions of a mafia boss and a pollution and climate change-triggered marine disaster at the Marmara Sea in May and June 2021, Turkey’s Minister of Energy made consecutive announcements of oil and gas discovery (among other valuable minerals such as gold) in Turkey’s offshore waters and onshore lands. Mainstream and state-owned media reported these discoveries as steps in Turkey’s economic wealth and resource independence to come. Critics, however, seemed to think that the announcements were just a ploy to detract attention from Turkey’s real political and economic problems. Following the reactions on social media from Chicago, I was struck by how many people seemed to think that these “discoveries” were actually fake. Many mocked the news about gas discovery in the Black Sea by sarcastically asking if there was an election on the horizon or if a bitcoin mine discovery was next (read more...)

Like, Share, Comment, and Follow: Labor and Capital on Instagram

Social media content creator Ishita Mangal (@ishitamangal) uploaded a post with multiple slides on her Instagram page. The first slide is entitled “an apology letter to my audience.” In the rest of the slides, she highlights a “barter collaboration” gone sour. The collaboration entailed the digital creator featuring four Indian kaftans (a type of clothing) brands on her Instagram page in exchange for keeping the outfits that she would feature. One of the brands was singled out, with their Instagram handle mentioned in the caption for viewers of the post to easily access. The brand was accused of harassing the digital creator; walking back on the terms of the agreement; asking for the garment in question back after “absorbing maximum benefits of all the posts on various platforms.” The digital creator proceeds to tell the tale of harassment and “extortion” she experienced at the hands of the luxury brand owner. (read more...)

Key Insights for Thinking and Doing Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Work: Contributions from Latin America

In April 2021, the First ESOCITE-LALICS Conference took place, albeit virtually. This was the first virtual Conference organized with the collaboration of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y Tecnología (ESOCITE) and Red Latinoamericana para el Estudio de los Sistemas de Aprendizaje, Innovación y Construcción de Competencias (LALICS). Importantly, the two organizations have different profiles: if LALICS aims to deepen the links between innovation processes, national/regional development, innovation systems, learning processes, and capacity building in the region, ESOCITE’s goal is to strengthen linkages across members of the community of social studies of science and technology in Latin America. (read more...)