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A young person with short hair that almost covers their eyes sits in a dark room looking at their phone, while holding their head

Neoliberal Morality: Shame and Self-Improvement as Control over Young People’s Digital Productivity

“Put your phone away!” “Why are you always on your phone?” “Being on your phone this much isn’t healthy!” These are words we all have probably heard before or said (in a well-meaning way) to friends, family members, or partners. While people of all ages spend increasing amounts of time with digital media, notably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people are especially scrutinized for doing so. (read more...)

A man uses a machine to collect samples from a mudpit.

Making the Invisible Seen: The Infrastructure of Modern Groundwater Governmentality in Taiwan

In 2009, the Taiwan High Speed Railway Company (THSR) claimed that severe land subsidence in Changhua and Yunlin counties was compromising and damaging the structural integrity of the railway. The THSR urged the government to regulate the over-pumping of groundwater in the region, which was seen as culpable for the land subsidence, in order to guarantee the safety of the rail users. Since the agricultural wells constitute a significant proportion of the total wells in these two counties, the safety issue became an issue of “water-justice” – local farmers have accused the Sixth Naphtha Cracking Plant owned by the Formosa Plastic Corporation of exploiting Yunlin’s surface water thereby forcing them to pump groundwater. To tamper farmers’ sentiments, the central government announced that according to a relevant survey, land subsidence was caused by deep wells, rather than farmers’ shallow wells. Therefore, the government would not forbid the pumping of groundwater by farmers in Changhua and Yunlin county. (read more...)

Dr. Dielentheis poses confidently pregnant with her son as representation of confidence in her health and her growing child's as she would have been vaccinated for the COVID-19 Pandemic if it had occurred six years ago.

“I’m Not an Anti-Vaxxer, I Just Don’t Want This Vaccine”: Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy among Pregnant Women

“The world isn’t made up of good people and death eaters.” -JK Rowling The world isn’t made up of people who choose to vaccinate and those who are vehemently opposed. With the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding has changed rapidly. With the development of three effective vaccinations, there has emerged a group of people that exhibit what has been dubbed “vaccine hesitancy.” This is a relatively new phenomenon in terms of new vaccination–the uptake, for example, of the polio vaccination in the early 1950s, was more immediate and widespread. The Zika epidemic also provides an interesting contrast to the current situation as well. I use these examples simply as a foil to the current pandemic and draw a number of interesting similarities and differences. (read more...)

person holding smart phone taking picture

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...)

Old coal mine equipment in a park with graffitis on them

Coal, Care, and Climate change: When Things Remember What People Forget

As the US moves toward greener energy futures, how we remember coal – or do not – has significant implications for how we create more just energy transitions. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) eventually came out in support of President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan, likely because it extended a lifeline to mines that produced high quality metallurgical or “coking” coal used in steel manufacture even though it concretized the administration’s commitment to decreasing coal production for energy. As a case in point, the New Elk Mine in southern Colorado fired up again in June 2021, with plans to ship nearly three million tons of coal per year to overseas steel-making plants. The mine’s reopening was noteworthy, given the region’s attempts to create a more sustainable economy in the wake of a major coal bust half a century ago. (read more...)

abstract action oil painting

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...)

A businessman looks over the horizon to observe the Naphtha Sixth Cracking Plant in Mailiao, Yunlin, Taiwan.

When Cash Rules: A Local Researcher/Activist’s Fieldnotes on “Passive Locals” Living Around Mailiao’s Petrochemical Complex

Yunlin is a coastal county in Western Taiwan famous for its agricultural produce, also known as “the barn of Taiwan.” However, the exchange value of agricultural produce has plummeted significantly since the 1970s. This has led to the outmigration of the underemployed able-bodied rural workforce to the cities, leaving behind the old and the young. As a consequence of this migration and Yunlin’s agricultural history, the county developed a reputation for being backward and poor. Residents of Yunlin have been eager to prove this stereotype wrong. (read more...)

Laid out on a table are copies of the Salt Spring Dollar used within the community of British Columbia along with texts utilized by the author to aid her in gathering information regarding the SSD when doing her research.

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...)