Accepted paper:

Digital food activism as ontological experimentation

Authors:

Tanja Schneider (University of St. Gallen)
Karin Eli (University of Oxford)
Javier Lezaun (Oxford University )
Stanley Ulijaszek (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers digital platforms used for food activism as infrastructures that give rise to ontological experiments (Jensen and Morita, 2015). Based on three case studies we show how food is ontologically respecified in the entanglements of activists, consumer-citizens and digital platforms.

Paper long abstract:

This paper considers digital platforms used for food activism as infrastructures that give rise to ontological experiments (Jensen and Morita, 2015). We focus on an exploration of how realities are made, co-constituted or transformed in and through socio-technical assemblages and their interactions with people and things (Gad et al, 2015). Our analysis is based on three case studies exploring different types of digital platforms - a mobile app, a wiki platform and an online-centric activist organization - capturing diverse forms and potentials of what we refer to as 'digital food activism'. We compare the case studies through three core questions: (1) how are activism, expertise, and agency defined on each of the platforms? (2) how do the user actions facilitated on each platform enact activist values and identities? (3) how does platform infrastructure create new spatialities and materialities of political action? Our comparison reveals the multiplicity and experimental nature of digital food activism and draws attention to how food is ontologically respecified in the entanglements of activists, consumer-citizens and digital platforms. We discuss the implications of this ontological respecification for agency, democracy and economy (cf. Counihan and Siniscalchi, 2014). Our aim is to understand what digital food activism is 'doing', with a particular interest in exploring the potential for interventions in the sense of 'artful contamination' (Zuiderent-Jerak and Jensen, 2007). Ultimately, our paper builds on and contributes to 'the turn to ontology' in STS and more recent theorising that seeks to connect STS' research interests in infrastructures, experiments and ontology.

panel T085
Infrastructures, subjects, politics