Techno-Anthropology

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Techno-Anthropology
At the School of Engineering and
Science, Aalborg University:
Bachelor and Master programme
in Techno-Anthropology
(cand.scient.)
What is Aalborg University (AAU)?
• Situated in the northern part of Jutland in DK,
with campuses in Aalborg, Copenhagen and
Esbjerg.
• Founded in 1974 on the premises of the old
engineering high school.
• 20.000 students and 3000 scientific staff.
• The ‘Aalborg model’ = Project and Problem
Based Learning (PoPBL).
Who am I?
• Lars Botin – MA and PhD, Associate Professor at the
Department of Development and Planning. Faculty of
Engineering and Science. AAU
• MA in art history with specialization in theory and
philosophy (Aarhus University and University of
Rome).
• PhD in Art, Science and Technology: A Humanist in
the Hospital. Cultural Assessments of Electronic
Health Records. (Faculty of Engineering and Science,
AAU)
What is Techno-Anthropology?
• Inter-disciplinary study and research
• Partners: Department of Learning and
Philosophy (40 %), Department of
Development and Planning (30 %),
Department of Health Technology (20 %) and
Department of Energy Technology (10 %).
What is Techno-Anthropology?
• Techno-Anthropology studies technology with the tools
of anthropology and combines knowledge of engineering,
social science and humanities, focusing on particular themes
including:
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health technology,
Planning
Energy technology
biotechnology,
clean-tech,
food technology,
ICT,
building construction etc.
Technological man
• “Man knows himself to be more and more
free, for technique has eliminated all natural
forces and in this way has given him the sense
of being master of his fate. The new man
being created before our very eyes, correctly
tailored to enter into the artificial paradise,
the detailed and necessary product of means
which he ordains for himself – that man is I”
(Ellul 1964:227).
The 6 “e”’s Techno-Anthropology
(6E)
• engagement
• empowerment
• emancipation
• enactment
• embodiment
• empathy
Technique and the bridging – the
mender.
• “Yet technique, having ruptured the relations
between man and man, proceeds to rebuild
the bridge which links them. It bridges the
specializations because it produces a new type
of man always and everywhere like his
duplicate, who develop along technical lines”
(Ellul 1964:132).
Heidegger and the bridge
• “Thus the bridge does not come to a location to
stand in it; rather, a location comes into existence
only by virtue of the bridge” (Heidegger
1971/2001:152).
• This means that the banks that are linked by the
bridge changes character and content through the
bridging. Techno-Anthropology is a bridging in
between disciplines where the various technological
disciplines and anthropology are altered and become
multistable.
Techno-Anthropology – a model
Børsen and Botin 2013
Technology
Making, modifying and
using tools, machines,
techniques and methods of
organization to solve
problems.
Interactional
expertise
TechnoAnthropology
Social
responsibility
and ethics
Anthropology
In-depth examination of
context, cross-cultural
comparisons, and
participant-observation or
long-term, experiential
immersion in the area of
research.
What is interactional expertise?
Collins and Evans 2007
Techno-Anthropological – research
questions
• What shapes Techno-Anthropological identities? (selfreflexivity and authentification – Ihde/Verbeek)
• What does it mean when scientists, engineers and
technologists learn, and how does it impact on their
practices? (Communities of Practice - Wenger)
• How do scientists and technology experts develop,
implement and exercise civic responsibility? (the
question concerning historicity and continuity - Jonas)
• How are users affected by, and how do they shape,
technology? (co-constitution - Ihde)
What is Hybridization in TechnoAnthtopological Perspective?
• hy′brid (h ̄ı′brid) n. 1. the offspring of animals or plants of different
varieties, species, or genera; a cross-breed or mongrel. 2. any
product or mixture of two heterogeneous things (The Webster
Handy College Dictionary 1956).
• Hybridization is human-technology associations (Ihde 1990/Verbeek
2011).
• Hybridization is combining scientific knowledge and technical skills
with cultural understanding, or empathy (Jamison, Christensen and
Botin 2011:11).
• Hybridization is design (of) today (where), engineering,
programming, science, language and art converge” (Williams, R.
2002:57).
• Hybridization is artful integration (Suchman, L. and Trigg, R. 1993).
The constitution of hybridity
• “In our technological culture, humans and
technologies do not have separate existences
anymore but help to shape each other in
myriad ways” (Verbeek 2011: 16).
• “People-and-things, which are the same as
people-and-society cannot be separated in
any meaningful practical sense” (Bowker and
Star 1999:300).
Post phenomenological reflections on
hybridity and hybrid imagination.
• The dissolution of subject/object absolutism.
• The overcoming of nature and ‘things in themselves’, and subjects
as detached sovereign readers and interpreters of the real, e.g.
hybridity of in-betweeness (or meta-humanism).
• The co-construction of reality, things and subjects.
• Hybrid imaginations are characterized by an intentionality of
multistability and contextualized variegated approaches to
problems of the real.
• Hybrid imaginations are cross-fertilizers, change actants and multidimensional.
• Cultural role of technology is subtle and ambivalent. (Verbeek
2005:144)
• …sites where both the objectivity of the world and the subjectivity
of those who are experiencing it and existing in it are constituted
(Verbeek 2005: 111-113)
Use and users in a responsibility
perspective
• Users are created through our methods. (Wyatt
2012)
• Use and practice is relational and as “humans we
learn about and human-machine dispositions
new composite intentionalities are transforming
organization of work, workplace identities, as we
“interpret and act on the object of our actions”
(relational agency). (Hasse 2012)
• Ideal use is described in manuals – what does
that mean in relation to embodiment,
engagement and learning?
Love song of Hybridity
• The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity,
intermingling, the transformation of new and
unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures,
ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in
mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure.
Mélange, hotchpotch, a bit of this and a bit of that is
how newness enters the world, and I have tried to
embrace it. The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion,
change-by-conjoining. It is a love-song to our mongrel
selves [Rushdie, S., 1992, p. 394].
• Fusion: (I/technology) -> world
Responsible (and political)
Technological Innovation
• Superflex and Supergas.
• Superflex started the project in 1997 and it is still in
progress.
• Supergas was originally a cooperation between DANIDA,
SURUDE (Sustainable Rural Development) and Superflex.
DANIDA supplied funds and expertise on projects in
developing countries, SURUDE is a cooperation between a
Tanzanian university and a local farmer organization (NGO)
and Superflex is a Danish art-corporation consisting of
artists, lawyer, accountant and engineer. It is as well a
classical stockholder company registered in the national
register of companies. (Aktieselskabsregisteret).
DANIDA
• Danish International Development Agency
– Freedom, democracy and human rights
– Growth and employment
– Equality
– Stability and fragility: the question concerning
indigenous, endogenous and exogenous
technology.
– Environment and Climate
Supergas
• As Supergas has spread to other developing
tropical and sub-tropical areas in the world it has
kept its focus on interaction with the local
context, which means that appropriation and
internalization through social and cultural habitus
has been central when local actors were
identified and engaged.
• Diverse range of medias are involved in the
dissemination: news paper cartoons, technical
drawings and models, social sites on the net and
so forth.
Superflex – Supergas.
(1997- )
Supergas Tanzania 1997
Supergas Cambodia 2001
What it involves to become a TechnoAnthropologist
What is a Techno-Anthropologist?
What is a Techno-Anthropologist?
1.
2.
3.
4.
Can find relevant scientific and technological knowledge
Can use and apply anthropological tools and concepts
Can describe and define cultures of technical expertise
Can map groups’ and organizations use and conception of
new technology and how technology influences them on its
behalf
5. Can establish dialogue between experts and users
6. Can assist decisionmakers in producing ethical based actions
7. Can be integrated part of teams that works with user driven
technological innovation and value sensitive technological
design
Talk to me with more questions
• Lars Botin – [email protected]

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