I led the workshop How Like a Cyborg: Rethinking the Agency of Users and Things in Innovation at the Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology symposium March 29 and 30 at the University of Cincinnati.
In this workshop, participants will get an introduction to “cyborg anthropology,” a research methodology that proposes deep integration of the analysis of humans and machines, stresses the responsibility of researchers to pay attention to how technologies can perpetuate difference and power dynamics, and centers collaboration. Through short readings by theorists like Donna Haraway, Joseph Dumit, Natasha Myers, and Bruno Latour, participants will gain an appreciation of the philosophy and ethics behind this approach to research. Special emphasis will be placed on recognizing the agency of non-humans and what that means for human users and societies. Then, a structured ethnographic activity will allow participants to test out these theoretical propositions in the material world.
Participants are asked to bring one or more medical or technological objects they are interested in understanding in a new light, including objects or models that they have previously studied or developed. This workshop will be of interest to designers interested in research techniques, student anthropologists, social scientists interested in science studies and philosophy of technology, activists and organizers working on technology-related issues, and engineers interested in the human side of their designs. Participants will leave with an expanded vocabulary and ethnographic toolkit for studying how technologies affect users and the wider social context.