Category: Research

Inclusion and Opportunities for Equal Participation for Autistic University Students in France

Like the term “equal participation”, the words “inclusion” and “inclusive” are prevalent today. And they are all typically linked: “equal participation” is often the goal of initiatives focused on “inclusion.” Although the word “inclusive” might appear capacious (inclusive just means everyone, right?), projects focused on “inclusion” and “equal participation” often target specific populations of people who have previously been excluded from something. That’s the case of projects focused on the inclusion of autistic people into higher education, including one in France where I conducted ethnographic research for the dissertation I am currently writing on the changing categorization(s) of autism in France. (read more...)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Epistemologies – The Line Between Bodies and Ideas?

A recent trend in the sciences is the attempt to create inclusive research spaces, as evidenced by the formation of new diversity, equity, and inclusion (hereafter, DEI) initiatives, guidelines, and hiring practices. Archaeology, a field science that has long grappled with discriminatory, dangerous, and exclusionary research conditions, has also made strides to create safe and equitable spaces. However, the very epistemic foundations and practices of the discipline are yet to reflect the orientation toward inclusion. In today’s archaeology, the concepts of “data,” “methodology,” and “rigor” (among others), which form the bedrock of scientific endeavor, still reproduce the dominant Western views of science that at their core are fundamentally heteronormative. Those theoretical approaches in archaeology that are directly concerned with minority identities, values, and politics (e.g. Critical Race Theory, feminist theory, Indigenous studies) continue to be marginalized. The marginalization of these theoretical approaches is an unfortunate development because many of these works challenge the epistemic core of what we do as researchers. They have the potential to transform what we think of as good research, not just what this research produces. (read more...)

“Emeryville is Weird”

When I would tell people I worked in the small San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Emeryville, they would almost always say, “Emeryville is weird.” And then the conversation would usually stop there, they couldn’t put their finger on quite what they meant. But there’s a strangeness that hangs over the city that everyone feels, and no one can quite describe. Emeryville is mostly made up of tech campuses – the occasion for my fieldwork – and new condos, big box stores and biotech and software companies, along with some bars and restaurants for people on their breaks, and that’s nearly it, because the whole city is one square mile. Emeryville is busy during the day with professionals, who never stay more than a drink or two after work, and the place is mostly cleared out by night. It has a too new kind of feeling where all the buildings (read more...)

Viral Entanglements in Malaysian Porcine Worlds

Content warning: This blog post contains photos of factory farming that viewers may find distressing. Pigs squeal and scream as they lie down in group pens. The humid air in the foreground, the farm’s pipes churn out pig waste into the nearby river. This is Kampung Selamat, an industrialized area known for factory farming in mainland Penang, Malaysia. Its river, known as Sungai Kreh, is the living chronology of industrialized pollution. Since the 1980s, the river has turned from bright blue to lime green as 72 pig farms discharge antibiotics, pig feces, and pig carcasses into the water. The foul stench and waste reveal how intertwined pig lives are with the personal livelihood of Kampung Selamat’s villagers over time. (read more...)

Thinking in Constellations: Problematizing Indigeneity in the Atacama Desert, Chile

In October 2021, I flew from the capital of Chile to the driest desert in the world—the Atacama Desert, a place with a long history of colonialism and extractivism. I was 12 years old the first time I visited as part of a family trip that lasted one month. We traveled by car 2000 km, so it was exhausting but also unforgettable. I remember our fleeting time in Calama city in the Antofagasta region to continue the journey to San Pedro de Atacama, a town in the Atacama salt flat basin where “atacameño” communities  (one of the ten “native peoples” recognized by the Chilean state since 1995) live. (read more...)

Revisiting Human-Machine Relationships and Efforts of Feminist STS

Alexa, Bixby, the GPS voice, Siri.… AI (Artificial Intelligence) assistants, which operate through algorithms and also produce them, have restructured our everyday lives: from listening to music to getting a sense of where we are (if the GPS is working properly). For users, these “assistants” have become integral parts of our everyday lives. Human-machine communication, in turn, has become more intimate than ever before. However, little effort has been made to understand this intimacy between humans and machines. Instead, much attention has been centered on the increasing obsolescence of technology, as newer models and gadgets enter the market. To recognize machines as sociable and understand human-machine relationships from a different perspective, I revisit feminist STS (Science and Technology Studies) scholars’ works. Furthermore, I look at smartphones, which are usually only considered as hosts for the immaterial AI, as social. (read more...)

People Are Not Fixed Media

Sensory ethnography continually emphasizes that the sensorium is just as much a (product of) sociocultural practice as it is a biophysiological property of the human species (Pink 2015). Recognition of this point has prompted several shifts in ethnographic work. On the one hand, it has pushed ethnographers to include in their writing a greater discussion of how subjects engage with the world through their senses as well as how the putatively biological phenomenon of sensory perception is so highly variable across and within sociocultural milieux. On the other, it has inspired ethnographers to pursue media practices beyond text, particularly through ethnographic film or sound recording (Feld 1991). Regardless of form, this work has greatly increased the possibility for the reader, listener, or viewer to experience with their senses the social environment that subjects inhabit and where the ethnographer conducted fieldwork. (read more...)

Climatic Futures and Tree Response-ability: Can Urban Forests Restore Human-Tree Relations?

How do we account for the agency of trees in our anthropocentric worlds? By what methods, representations, and relations of care can these sentient beings claim existence as more than data entry points and statistical figures? In this post, I turn our attention to the problem of the taken-for-granted responsibility of trees as a panacea for climate change and propose instead a practice of “thinking-with” and “becoming-with” trees (Haraway 2016). I focus on the ecological and ethical complexity of transposing tree ecologies as it overlooks questions of justice and climatic futures through the Miyawaki urban forests in Pakistani cities. Attention to “braided knowledge” (Kimmerer 2013) manifests not just in how trees are cared for in gardens and arboretums, but also in how urban forests are planned to make a city more inclusive, aesthetically pleasing, and healthier. Inspired by Haraway’s (2016, 34) insistence to take “response-ability” as “collective knowing and doing, an ecology of practices,” I invite us to “think-with” trees as markers of belonging, emotion, and wisdom for not only times past but for futures to come. (read more...)