Philosophical Post-Humanism

Last week I had the pleasure to attend a colloquium from the University of Twente Department of Philosophy by Dr. Francesca Ferrando who is based at the NYU-Liberal Studies, University of New York, USA. In her colloquium she gave a very good introduction to various strands of philosophical post-humanism and the difference to the transhumanism movement. All of these movements she explained start from the basic assumption that the human is an open frame, and not a closed option.

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Surprised to see an interview with Donna Haraway on The Guardian. In the interview she discusses the science wars and her current focus on climate activism. Read the full article here.

Claire Walkey from the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre writes about why we should rethink refugee registration. Registration is the first moment when asylum-seekers become known by the state, so we might assume that states will always want to implement registration procedures to monitor people. But her fieldwork in Kenya shows that this is not always the case as here the government actually stopped the registration procedures. According to her we therefore need to “look for answers in the meaning and politics of registration itself”, as registration can be a form of empowerment for refugees:

Acknowledging the legal recognition that registration can offer refugees sheds light on why states, resistant to hosting refugees, might choose not to register them. It is too easy to assume, given security practices especially in the West, that states will always pursue bureaucratic surveillance and monitoring of refugees. In Kenya, it is politically prudent to resist legal recognition, even at the expense of bureaucratic surveillance. The promotion of registration by the international community may therefore find little traction by focusing purely on the security gain for states, particularly in contexts with weak administrative infrastructures. It is prudent instead to rethink registration and recognize that at times it offers more to refugees than to states.

Fantastic lecture from Annemarie MolWhere is my Body? Notes on Eating and Topology”. This lecture was organised by the Research Center of Social and Cultural Studies Mainz (SoCuM) as part of their yearly Georg Forster Lecture series. More excellent speakers have been invited of the years, and I’m curious to look at those lectures as well. A page with all the Georg Forster lectures can be found here. The following is the original abstract from the SoCuM website for the lecture:

In the course of the twentieth century, the notion “das Volk” gradually lost its appeal. Natural and social realities got disentangled. The sciences came to take bodies as a basic layer and social phenomena as situated on top of it. In recent practice-oriented studies this changes, as in practice there are no layers, but bodily and social elements act together. Other topological configurations shift accordingly. For in practice “my body” is not necessarily be-neath my skin; as I eat stuff from everywhere, it stretches out. But while “my body” is wide-spread, knowledge about it is situated. The fact that “my body” needs 2000 kcal a day, may be relevant in a setting of scarcity, but in contexts of abundance it is counterproductive. In single settings, at the same time, different kinds of facts may come to clash. Economics may take feeding grain to chicken to be efficient, but for nutrition science it is not at all. The topological complexity of bodily spaces thus laid out, gives reason to conclude that while in practice scientific knowledge is highly pertinent, it does not offer conclusive grounds.

Political Power In The Ages of Coal and Oil

I just started reading the book “Carbon Democracy” by Timothy Mitchell1. In the first chapter of the book he gives a fascinating overview of how the use of energy on new scales, first coal and then oil, changed ways of life and allowed “new mass politics”. This new politics he argues was not just a product of the new energy systems, but was assembled by people through the new energy systems.

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Rachel Hewitt writes in 1843 Magazine on different reasons of why “running doesn’t offer women the freedom it should”. In her essays she writes about some of her own experiences why this is the case: from not feeling securing running at night, to clothes not being as well designed for women, and running races not taking into account different bodily needs. Read the full article here.

Reading an article on “Flexible Turtles and Elastic Octopi: Exploring Agile Practice in Knowledge Work”1, where the authors introduce the concept of elastic workers:

We label this form of flexibility as ‘elastic’ to account for the fact that these practices appear to be less a response to dynamic external conditions than a co-construction of external conditions with the internal disposition of the worker. To be elastic, in these terms, is to learn to find stability in dynamic circumstances beyond any one situation, perpetually.

  1. Erickson, I., Menezes, D., Raheja, R. et al. Comput Supported Coop Work (2019). [return]

Check out this stunnishing timelapse video directed by Hiroshi Kondo of the flow of motorbikes in the streets of Taiwan.

Great day today with the Processing Citizenship team and Professor Kalpana Shankar where we discussed connections with her work on social science data archives and data curation practices. Afterwards she also gave a colloquium at our UTwente STePS department on “Data Work as Organizational Work: The Sustainability of Social Science Data Archives”.

Some nice recent articles from Courier International:

I’m always interested to learn about influences on culture and traditions that are otherwise taken for granted, or are considered “natural”. So I’m pleased to find out via Wikipedia about “The Pizza Effect” as one perspecive on such a phenomena:

”(…) phenomenon of elements of a nation or people’s culture being transformed or at least more fully embraced elsewhere, then re-imported back to their culture of origin, or the way in which a community’s self-understanding is influenced by (or imposed by, or imported from) foreign sources. It is named after the idea that modern pizza toppings were developed among Italian immigrants in the United States (rather than in native Italy, where in its simpler form it was originally looked down upon), and was later exported back to Italy to be interpreted as a delicacy in Italian cuisine.”

Listening to a podcast from the BBC program In Our Time about Henri Bergon’s ideas on time. Some ideas I found noteworthy:

The Hyphen Labs collective is making brilliant projects at the intersection of technology, art, science, and the future. Check out there work here

Looking at a keynote presentation of Lisa Nakamura at the transmediale 2018 “Call Out, Protest, Speak Back”. She focuses on the importance of critical race and feminist theory for understanding contemporary culture of digital technologies. Interesting use of Audrey Lorde’s quote that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” and how we can’t fix technology with more technology.

Fascinating video on the daily background maintenance and repair that is required to keep the city of Venice “working”. Check out the website of the project Venice Backstage as well.

In South-Africa there has been severe water shortages due to a long drought and bad water management. The following short video gives us a glimpse of the terrible consequences such as police cracking down prohibited water use, such as someone trying to earn some living washing cars.

The shortage has left residents fearing what’s been coined ‘Day Zero’: the moment when the city turns off the taps, and residents are forced to line up for water rations under the watchful eye of armed officials. And as this unsettling short documentary shows, the consequences of the crisis are already severe, with police cracking down on what’s considered unnecessary water use. The increasingly desperate situation has escalated tensions in a region already divided between haves and have-nots, frequently along racial lines

Two important news updates via Tv5Monde’s 7 jours sur la planète emission of 30 March 2019:

In France there has been a change in gender marking in job titles. A large part of previously traditional masculin job titles did not have a feminine form. Via 7 jours sur la planète.