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Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

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Timothy B. Leduc and Susan A Crate

This article is concerned with the way in which indigenous place-based knowledge and understandings, in a time of global climate change, have the potential to challenge researchers to self-reflexively shift the focus of their research toward those technological and consumer practices that are the cultural context of our research. After reviewing some literature on the emergence of self-reflexivity in research, the authors offer two case studies from their respective environmental education and anthropological research with northern indigenous cultures that clarifies the nature of a self-reflexive turn in place-based climate research and education. The global interconnections between northern warming and consumer culture-and its relation to everexpanding technological systems-are considered by following the critical insights of place-based knowledge. We conclude by examining the possibility that relocalizing our research, teaching, and ways of living in consumer culture are central to a sustainable future, and if so, the knowledge and understandings of current place-based peoples will be vital to envisioning such a cultural transformation of our globalizing system.

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Anna Henkel

This article starts with the observation that a sociological analysis of interactions concerning drugs cannot rely on accounts of drugs that were generated in the field because these accounts (such as the distinction between drugs and non-drugs or between intended effects and side effects) are shaped by strong interests. The article suggests two approaches to obtaining actor-independent accounts, both of which are based on comparisons. The first approach is a symmetrization of perspectives, which can be achieved by including the perspectives of as many different actors as possible as well as the abstract actors of science and law. The second approach starts from the definition of a problem that is contingent but grounded in practices of the field. In the case of drugs, this problem can be constructed as how laypersons can rate the identity and quality of specific things as unproblematic. In both cases, an ontological idea of the “drug as such” is replaced by a social-constructivist view of the drug, which at the same time takes the drug's materiality into account.

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Inclusive innovation and sustainable development in affordable habitat

From the linear intervention model to Social Technological Systems

Facundo Picabea

English abstract: In the last thirty years, Latin America has seen a significant growth in a set of approaches, schools of thought and social movements, which posit that is impossible to effect a transformation in the region without processes focused on inclusion and democracy. Recent analyses on some of these trends reveal the existence of linear and deterministic assumptions in the various models used to address the issue. From the analytical dimension to the regulatory, this work puts forward an inclusive and participatory development model. Unlike technological systems based on income maximization, private appropriation and benefit restriction, Social Technological Systems represent a systemic strategic vision: new development paths, new ways of thinking about problems and socio-technical solutions, and new ways of exercising democracy.

Spanish abstract: En los últimos treinta años, América Latina ha visto crecer significativamente un conjunto de enfoques, corrientes y movimientos sociales que sostienen la imposibilidad de transformar la región si no es a través de procesos que valoricen la inclusión y la democracia. Recientes análisis sobre algunas de estas corrientes ponen en evidencia la continuidad de supuestos lineales y deterministas. De la dimensión analítica a la regulatoria, este trabajo propone un modelo de desarrollo inclusivo y participativo. Frente a los sistemas tecnológicos basados en la maximización de la renta, la apropiación privada y la restricción de los beneficios, los Sistemas Tecnológicos Sociales responden a una visión estratégica sistémica: nuevos senderos de desarrollo, nuevas formas de concebir problemas y soluciones socio-técnicas, nuevas formas de ejercer la democracia.

French abstract: Durant les trente dernières années, l’Amérique latine a connu la croissance significative d’un ensemble d’approches, d’écoles de pensée et de mouvements sociaux qui revendiquent l’impossibilité d’une transformation dans la région sans processus inclusifs et démocratiques. Des analyses récentes de certaines de ces tendances révèlent l’existence de suppositions linéaires et déterministes dans les modèles utilisés. Partant d’une dimension analytique vers une perspective règlementaire, ce travail revendique un modèle de développement inclusif et participatif. A la différence des systèmes technologiques fondés sur la maximisation des revenus, l’appropriation privée et la restriction des bénéfices, les Systèmes Sociaux Technologiques représentent une vision systémique stratégique : des voies et des manières nouvelles pour penser les problèmes et les solutions sociotechniques et des formes novatrices d’exercice démocratique.

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Our Present Misfortune

Games and the Post-Bureaucratic Colonization of Contingency

Thomas M. Malaby

Anthropology is turning toward a new engagement with a central question of Weber: how do people come to understand the distribution of fortune in the world? Our discipline's recent examination of the uses of the past prompts us to ask how stances toward the future are both the product of cultural logics and the target of institutional interests. In this article, I trace the engagement with contingency in anthropology and social thought, and then compare the nonchalant stance toward the future found in Greek society with the different disposition of individual gaming mastery in the digital domain, such as in Second Life, but also in the longest-running Greek state-sponsored game: Pro-Po. These examples illustrate how games are increasingly the sites for institutional efforts both to appropriate creativity and to generate distinctive subjectivities.

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The Academic Reserve

Israel's Fast Track to High-Tech Success

Gil Baram and Isaac Ben-Israel

Why is Israel world-renowned as the ‘start-up nation’ and a leading source of technological innovation? While existing scholarship focuses on the importance of skill development during Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service, we argue that the key role of the Academic Reserve has been overlooked. Established in the 1950s as part of David Ben-Gurion’s vision for a scientifically and technologically advanced defense force, the Academic Reserve is a special program in which the IDF sends selected high school graduates to earn academic degrees before they complete an extended term of military service. After finishing their service, most participants go on to contribute to Israel’s successful high-tech industry. By focusing on the role of the Academic Reserve, we provide a broader understanding of Israel’s ongoing technological success.

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David Graeber

Terms such as 'fate' and 'luck' are ways of talking about the ambiguities and antinomies of temporal existence that all humans, even social theorists, have to confront in one form or another. Concepts that include mana, śakti, baraka, and orenda might best be considered as grappling with the exact same paradoxes. Nor should we assume that social scientific approaches are necessarily more sophisticated. Current discourse on 'performativity', for instance, seems in certain ways rather crude when compared to the Malagasy concept of hasina (usually translated as 'sacred power'), which takes on the same dilemma—what I call the 'paradox of performativity'—in a far more nuanced way.

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Asta Vonderau

Drawing upon ethnographic data, this article investigates the effects of a new online campus management system in one of the largest universities in Germany. It shows the various ways in which this technological innovation influenced students', teachers' and administrative personnel's relations and everyday working practices and how it is influential in the reorganisation of university structures. The online management system is regarded as an important part of an emerging infrastructure of excellence, which materialises the changing understanding of qualitative studies and teaching. Findings show that the online management supports standardised and economised study, teaching and administrative practices and silences creativity and flexibility. However, these standardisations are negotiated and questioned by the actors involved.

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James Ryan

This article reviews recent works of the urban history of Istanbul and considers new frameworks for the history of public transit in that city. It suggests that through new understandings of the transformation of public space, we can reconceptualize transit history as urban history writ small.

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Technologies of the Afterlife

The Agency of the Dead at Spanish Mass Grave Exhumations

Jonah S. Rubin

In August 2011, I attended the exhumation of Severiano Clemente González, conducted by the Forum for Memory in the Castilian town of La Toba, Guadalajara. Mr González was one of the over 130,000 civilian victims of the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War and ensuing Franco dictatorship (1939–1975). Even after Spain’s democratic constitution in 1978, most families could not recover their loved ones, owing to an unofficial ‘Pact of Silence’ whereby major political actors agreed not to legislate, litigate or discuss the still controversial past in the public sphere (Encarnación 2014). Since 2000, however, civil society organisations such as the Forum for Memory and the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) have been leading a series of forensic exhumations – modelled after similar state-led interventions in Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe (Ferrándiz 2010; Rubin 2014).