Programme

(T074)
Cosmopolitical Research and STS
Location 120
Date and Start Time 03 September, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Michael Schillmeier (University of Exeter) email

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Short Abstract

This track contributes to a cosmopolitical research agenda in STS that draws attention to the questionability of the normal in social relations and how social normalcy is disrupted, questioned and altered by unforeseeable events, unexpected practices and uncommon actors and actor-coalitions.

Long Abstract

This track contributes to a cosmopolitical research agenda in STS that draws attention to the questionability of the normal in social relations and how social normalcy is disrupted, questioned and altered by unforeseeable events, unexpected practices and uncommon actors and actor-coalitions. The track will focus on empirical and conceptual work that address how STS can contribute to novel understandings and engagement with the non-normal, the un-common and unexpected which challenge and put at risk the conduct of everyday life practices and institutionalized orderings. Central questions include:

• How can STS contribute to caring practices for which no common solutions are available?

• Which role do the non-human, artifacts, design, technologies gain in cosmopolitical research?

• How can we imagine new coalitions between researcher and researched?

• How can a cosmopolitical perspective contribute to 'slow science'?

• How can a cosmopolitical perspective disrupt the premises of human exceptionalism in STS?

• How can we think of cosmopolitical research as a mode of political engagement and experimentation, resistance and disruption of 'social normalcy'?

• What are the novel spaces of cosmopolitics and how do they become visible?

Possible areas of investigation include

• Disability Studies

• Health and Illness

• Environmental Studies

• Art and Design

• Urban Studies

• Disaster Studies

• Risk Studies

• Issue/Publics Studies

• Speculative Philosophy in STS

• etc.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Collective Cosmopolitics: Argentina's National Disruption of Trans* Health

Authors: Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent (Linköping University)  email
Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (Linköping University)  email

Short Abstract

We tried to understand the ‘issue’ of our new research project–on trans* health in Argentina–and failed. Focusing on the ‘issue’, we were unable to prehend that disruption of 'social normalcy' only worked as a collective cosmopolitical project. What cosmopolitics is issue-focused STS missing out on?

Long Abstract

The relationship between clinical evidence and health activism has been an important theme in STS for decades. But perhaps STS has privileged two possible relations between evidence and activism: first, the challenging of the normalcy produced through evidence on a specific issue by activists, or second, the inclusion of activists in the production of evidence, conceptualized as evidence-based activism. In contrast we explore quite other relations between evidence and activism, based on our ethnographic study of the development of a guide for trans* health in Argentina.

With the Argentinian senate unanimously passing the Ley de Identidad de Género, which defines gender identity as "the inner and individual gender experience as each person feels it", citizens are free to choose their gender and alter their official documents accordingly without medical, administrative, or legal gatekeeping. Treatment to meet the gender experience through bodily modifications are covered by the Plan Médico Obligatorio, the national health plan.

We study the developers of the corresponding health guide at the Ministry of Health. They approach gender health as a matter of caring for heterogeneity rather than as one of making the transition from a biological male to female or vice versa. We analyze both their attempt to rethink binary-enforcing clinical evidence from a human rights perspective, as well as our inability to understand their collective cosmopolitics. Where we were trying to study the 'issue' of trans* health, we failed to see that difference only worked by approaching disruption of 'social normalcy' as a collective cosmopolitical project.

Disrupting normalised forms of inequality: towards a cosmopolitics of care

Authors: Clare Shelley-Egan (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)  email
Jim Dratwa (European Commission and Woodrow Wilson Center)  email

Short Abstract

This paper centres on the way in which the Ebola and Zika crises have disrupted normalised forms of inequality and selective caring. It builds on key STS questions such as – “where are the others?” and proposes building blocks for a cosmopolitics of care.

Long Abstract

In the course of jointly developing a reflexive paper on the 'Ebola crises', the emergence of a very different issue -the Zika virus outbreak- challenged us to go further. We wanted to investigate and explore the myriad issues and tensions that have arisen as a result of the crises not only from a public health perspective but also from the "us versus them" framing that has characterised the response of the developed world to these crises. Scrutinising the policy responses to these 'foreseeable but unforeseen' matters of concern, together with the attempts to distribute relevance and agency among diverse populations and institutions, the paper proceeds through a series of reframing moves. First, building on two key STS reframing questions, "where are the others?" and "what kind of world do we want to live in together?", the paper is structured by these two ethical cosmopolitical horizons of transformation. The paper counterpoints an analysis of participatory healthcare (and its attendant dialectics of new forms of empowerment, citizenship and subjection) with an inquiry into the way in which the Ebola and Zika crises disrupt normalised forms of inequality and selective caring. It further questions the norming, normative and normalising roles of ethical expertise in these settings - alongside the subversive potentialities it holds.

The Cochlear Implant and the Impositions of Hearing

Authors: Markus Spoehrer (University of Konstanz, Germany)  email
Robert Stock (University of Konstanz)  email
Beate Ochsner (University of Konstanz )  email

Short Abstract

The paper analyses the practices and process of mediatization of the cochlear implant, which link human and non-human actors and thus either dis- or enable socio-cultural participation.

Long Abstract

The paper analyses the practices of the cochlear implant (CI), which link human and non-human actors and thereby dis- or enable socio-cultural participation. We focus on the mediation processes that promise or prevent the assembly of different actors in the context of the CI, as well as the related programs of action that are to be located between euphoria and refusal, claims and demands, promises of participation and practices of (self-)normalization. Hence, the CI is not a mere time-resistant medical instrument. Rather, all human and non-human actors enrolled in the assemblage are produced in co-evolutionary processes and adjusted in reciprocal adaptation. Consequently, the CI functions as "putty", which separates and relates the upcoming biosocial communities. As a quasi-object, it remains transformable and reusable. The processual production of the CI equally shapes media practices (and is formed by them), which re-configure the understanding of what it means to "hear" normally as they challenge the concepts of auditory perception. By describing these practices, implied regimes and (counter-)politics we will also ask how academic analysis of specific media constellations of hearing can contribute to the discussion of Stenger's concept of "cosmopolitics".

The paper explores (1) the medial conditions of collective or individual participation/non-participation in CI-communities, (2) the audiovisual operations that produce cultural knowledge of hearing, non-hearing and CI-hearing and (3) the ethical, socio-political, technical and philosophical discourses about the CI ranging from therapy to enhancement, which all regulate the conditions of social ex- and inclusion.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.