Ethics in an anthrotech world
Aina Landsverk Hagen (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
Like architects and designers, anthropologists are entering a world of technological savvy and messy ethical boundaries to be reshaped and stretched. This is the moment to rethink and adapt creatively to this new situation.
Paper long abstract:
Not even anthropologists' bodies end at their skin. When Appadurai claims that "the problem of voice (speaking 'for' and speaking 'to') intersects with the problem of space (speaking 'from' and speaking 'of')" (1988:17), I would add the problem of gaze as seeing 'through' − e.g. using an object like a 3D tool to envision a situation, scenario or place − and seeing 'for'. Who or what is doing the participant observations in an anthropological situation? Is it the anthropologist solely, or do we "become with many" (Haraway 2008) - cameras, smart phones, human and non-human participants in the field? To ask as Haraway does, "Why should our bodies end at the skin or include at best other beings encapsulated by skin?" (2000:87), enables a reexamination of the discipline's fieldwork practices, at a time where fieldwork - with its focus on networks, hybrids, multi-sites and collaboration - is not what it used to be. The poignant question to ask in any analysis of social life, for both practitioners and academics, is "what do you not see from your standpoint?" George Marcus invokes this moment as a time of transition especially regarding the design of research, "for which anthropology does not yet have an adequate articulation" (2009:19). Like architects, anthropologists are entering a world of technological savvy and messy ethical boundaries to be reshaped and stretched. This is the moment to rethink and adapt creatively to this new situation - not to scream in anguish or hide in dark corners from monsters that sometimes happen to be ourselves.