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Speculative Anthropologies — Cultural Anthropology
"At the intersection of speculative fiction and anthropology, we find a sense of epistemological humility about the kind of worlds we could or should inhabit. Yet epistemological humility should not be confused with futility: possibilities and potentialities still matter. We do not know what we are capable of, and yet that need not keep us from the pursuit of what ifs. Through the imaginative interpellations of speculative fiction (SF), the contributors to this Theorizing the Contemporary series gravitate toward new localities and means of presence: ecological, technological, Afro-futuristic. Facing the imminent prospect of both disaster and discovery, they call us to resist despair and to craft tangible ways of shaping and repairing the worlds we still hope for.

Posts in This Series

Introduction: Speculative Anthropologies
by Ryan Anderson, Emma Louise Backe, Taylor Nelms, Elizabeth Reddy and Jeremy Trombley

The Unstable Edge: Anthropology, Speculative Fiction, and the Incremental Threat of Sea Level Rise
by Ryan Anderson

Our Present as the Past’s Fictitious Future
by Sally A. Applin

Solarpunking Speculative Futures
by Nandita Badami

Thinking Parabolically: Time Matters in Octavia Butler’s Parables
by Priya Chandrasekaran

Looking for Humanity in Science Fiction through Afrofuturism
by David Colón-Cabrera

Planeterra Nullius: Science Fiction Writing and the Ethnographic Imagination
by William Lempert (Open author orcid page in new window)

Fieldnotes from the Twilight Zone
by Patricia Markert and Jeremy Trombley

Invisible City: A Speculative Guide
by Taylor Nelms

First Contact with Possible Futures
by Michael Oman-Reagan (Open author orcid page in new window)

Speculative Fiction and Speculating about the Social
by Elizabeth Reddy

Evidently SF
by David Valentine

Anthropology’s Latent Futures
by Samuel Gerald Collins

Unbounding the Field/Note
by Valerie Olson

The Necessary Tension between Science Fiction and Anthropology
by Matthew Wolf-Meyer"
speculative  anthropology  speculativeanthropology  speculativefiction  designfiction  speculation  afrofuturism  ecology  technology  immigration  climatechange  ryananderson  emmalouisebacke  taylornelms  elizabethreddy  jeremytrombley  sallyapplin  nanditabadami  priyachandrasekaran  davidcolón-cabrera  williamlempert  patriciamarkert  michaeloman-reagan  samuelgeraldcollins  davidvalentine  valerieolson  matthewwolf-meyer 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Anthropologists in Outer Space - SAPIENS
"Today we not only look at the stars, we send spacecraft to investigate outer space and plan for human habitation on other worlds. The United States and the Soviet Union first sent animals up in rockets in the 1940s, and in 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel to space. By 1969, humans had walked on the moon. Soon after, anthropologists were discussing the problem of how to study emerging cultures of space—a place few people had even been to. In the 1970s, anthropologist and futurist Magoroh Maruyama organized a series of discussions on outer space at the annual American Anthropological Association meetings and the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. These meetings led to the publication of the 1975 book “Cultures Beyond the Earth: The Role of Anthropology in Outer Space.”

In the 1980s, anthropologist Ben Finney turned his eye to space. He combined his experience in the U.S. Navy and the aerospace industry with his anthropological research on how Polynesian people could have crossed the Pacific Ocean. In 1994 anthropologist Roland A. Foulkes drew from this earlier work by Maruyama, Finney, and other anthropologists in his essay “Why Space? An Anthropologist’s Response.” Foulkes even talked about possible names for the field of anthropology that studies space, suggesting astroanthropology, exoanthropology, aerospace-anthropology, or extraterrestrial anthropology.

The call for anthropologists to study outer space was revived in 2009 when anthropologists David Valentine, Valerie Olson, and Debbora Battaglia published a commentary in Anthropology News called “Encountering the Future: Anthropology and Outer Space.” Since “being earthbound is not a limitation” for humans, they argued, it shouldn’t be for anthropologists either.

Over the last decade, anthropologists studying space have written about dozens of topics, including the debate over Pluto’s status as a planet (Lisa Messeri, University of Virginia); how we respond to the threat of an asteroid hitting Earth (Valerie Olson, University of California, Irvine); the diaries kept by cosmonauts while they lived in space (Debbora Battaglia, Mount Holyoke College); new companies and communities in the private space-exploration industry (David Valentine, University of Minnesota); the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Kathryn Denning, York University); and the science of studying extraterrestrial life (Stefan Helmreich, MIT).

There is even an archaeology of outer space. At Flinders University in Australia, archaeologist Alice Gorman studies the debris we leave in space, from old satellites orbiting the earth to spacecraft, robots, and even shadows on the moon. In her TED talk Gorman explains how the stuff we think of as useless “space junk” actually has value as part of our cultural heritage.

It takes imagination to think like this. Gorman uses her expertise in archaeology and anthropology to imagine how a piece of technology from our recent history could be an important artifact in the future. Work like this inspires me to wonder what human culture might look like in the future—in one hundred, one thousand, or even ten thousand years. This kind of future-aware anthropology draws from both science and science fiction. And in turn, science-fiction authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Phillip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert are all doing speculative anthropology when they use their knowledge of life here on Earth to write fictional works about people, cultures, and landscapes elsewhere and otherwise—on other worlds and in possible futures.

Science fiction has also been an inspiration for space scientists and astronauts. Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space, was inspired as a child when she saw Nichelle Nichols playing Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise in the original “Star Trek” television series. Science fiction also serves as a way of thinking about some of the anthropological problems of both Earth and outer space. What sort of worlds do we imagine might be out there around other stars? What kinds of life, culture, cities, spacecraft, philosophies, and religions might extraterrestrial civilizations have? I also like the idea of turning this extraterrestrial gaze back toward ourselves to ask, What would Earth look like to us if we were looking at it from another world?"

"Anthropologists have often studied what appear at first to be great differences between human communities living across this planet. There are long-standing and ongoing debates in anthropology about differences and similarities, universals and particulars—about how much we can really know or understand about other people’s lives, beliefs, views, and worlds. Anthropology of space can be another way of thinking about these questions. What might we see if we change the scale of the anthropological perspective, imagine ourselves from elsewhere, and look at Earth as a whole from space? For all our apparent differences, perhaps visitors from another world would look down at this small blue planet we live on and think that we’re all quite similar after all."
michaeloman-reagan  space  anthropology  history  future  2016  culture  carlsagan  scifi  sciencefiction  speculativeanthropology  archaeoastronomy  archaeology  astroanthropology  exoanthropology  aerospace-anthropology  extraterrestrialanthropology  magorohmaruyama  benfinney  polynesia  davidvalentine  valerieolson  debborabattaglia  outerspace  lisamesseri  astronauts  cosmonauts  kathryndenning  stefanhelmreich  alicegorman  spacecraft  maejemison  ursulaleguin  octaviabutler  samueldelany  phillipkdick  frankherbert 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Queering Outer Space — Space + Anthropology — Medium
"It’s time to queer outer space.

Since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011, the U.S. space agency NASA has turned over much of the work on space transportation to private corporations and the “commercial crew” program. As venture capitalist space entrepreneurs and aerospace contractors compete to profit from space exploration, we’re running up against increasingly conflicting visions for human futures in outer space. Narratives of military tactical dominance alongside “NewSpace” ventures like asteroid mining projects call for the defense, privatization, and commodification of space and other worlds, framing space as a resource-rich “frontier” to be “settled” in what amounts to a new era of colonization (Anker 2005; Redfield 2000; Valentine 2012).

However, from at least the 1970s, some space scientists have challenged this trajectory of resource extraction, neo-colonialism, and reproduction of earthly political economies with alternative visions of the future (McCray 2012). Today’s “visionary” space scientists imagine space exploration as a source of transformative solutions to earthly problems such as climate change, economic inequality, conflict, and food insecurity (Grinspoon 2003; Hadfield 2013; Sagan 1994; Shostak 2013; Tyson 2012; Vakoch 2013).

Elsewhere I’m doing research on all of this as a PhD student in anthropology, but here I want to argue that we must go even further than academically interrogating the military and corporate narratives of space “exploration” and “colonization.” We must water, fertilize,and tend the seeds of alternative visions of possible futures in space, not only seeking solutions to earthly problems which are trendy at the moment, but actively queering outer space and challenging the future to be even more queer.

I’m queering the word queer here — I want to use it to call for more people of color, more indigenous voices, more women, more LGBTQetc., more alternative voices to the dominant narratives of space programs and space exploration. I want to use queer to stand in for a kind of intersectionality that I can speak from without appropriating or speaking on behalf of others, as a queer person. So by saying queer, I’m not trying to subsume other identities and struggles into the queer ones, but calling out to them and expressing solidarity and respect for difference in joint struggle, I’m inviting you all. I also don’t want to write “intersectionalize” outer space but it’s basically what I mean. So, when I use it here queer is not marriage equality and the HRC and heteronormativity mapped onto cis, white, gay, male characters ready for a television show. It’s also not me with my own limited corner of queer, minority, and disability experience. Queer is deeply and fully queer. As Charlie, an awesome person I follow on twitter calls it: “queer as heck.”

So in this way queer is also, if you’ll permit it, a call-out to mad pride, Black power, sex workers, disability pride, Native pride, polyamory, abolitionist veganism, the elderly, imprisoned people, indigenous revolutionaries, impoverished people, anarchism, linguistic minorities, people living under occupation, and much more. It’s all those ways that we are given no choice but to move in the between spaces of social, economic, and environmental life because the highways and sidewalks are full of other people whose identity, behavior, politics, and sensitivities aren’t questioned all the time, and they won’t budge.

In a sense, it’s the old definition of queer as odd — because when they tell you that you don’t belong, you don’t fit it, you’re unusual, then you’re queer. It’s that feeling that you’re walking behind those five people walking side-by-side who won’t let you pass becuase you’re not one of them. Queer is radical, marginal, partial, torn, assembled, defiant, emergent selves — queer is also non-human — from stones and mountains to plants and ‘invasive’ species. I know, you’re thinking: then what isn’t queer? But, if you’re asking that — the answer might be you.


I. Queer Lives in Orbit…

II. De-colonizing Mars and Beyond…

III. Extraterrestrial Allies

IV. Generations of Queer Futures"
michaeloman-reagan  2015  socialscience  space  outerspace  anthropology  colonization  race  gender  sexuality  multispecies  sciencefiction  scifi  science  spaceexploration  decolonization  donnaharaway  chrishadfield  davidgrinspoon  carlsagan  sethshostak  peterredfield  nasa  colinmilburn  patrickmccray  walidahimarisha  adriennemareebrown  frederikceyssens  maartendriesen  kristofwouters  marleenbarr  pederanker  100yss  racism  sexism  xenophobia  naisargidave  queerness  queer  DNLee  lisamesseri  elonmusk  mars  occupy  sensitivity  inclusinvity  inclusion  identity  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Your Nostalgia Isn’t Helping Me Learn — The Synapse — Medium
[See also: ]

"These stories keep popping up, recycling the same studies and confirming someone’s intuition that the “good old-fashioned way” is better.

But contrary to these claims, I would not have made it through my years of university courses without the technology I use every day. And I don’t mean specific “assistive technology” designed with “disabilities” in mind. I’m talking here about the notes I make on my phone when I’m chatting with someone, which serve as an extension of my brain — the course project documents, folders of articles, collected syllabi, images, screenshots, and more that are always available on my laptop or anywhere through my synchronized folders.

I rely on the over 170 notebooks in Evernote where I practically wrote my entire MA thesis and where I track all current projects, personal and academic. I worked a full time job for much of my undergraduate education and part of my MA and was able to do this because of the ability to search through all 70,000+ email messages from the last 15 years, the ability to search inside a journal article, search a PDF of a book and copy/paste the text. This technology is assistive for me as a student very simply because all technology is assistive technology.

“Research Shows”

Surely we can agree then that all technology is assistive. But what about in the classroom? What’s missing from these popular articles when they claim technology is a distraction in the classroom? How do they conclude assistive technology is getting in the way of learning when so many students like myself rely on it? And what are the consequences of banning technology in the classroom?

I’ll start by taking that article from Vox and looking at some of the claims. After that, I’ll look at what’s happening in classrooms where technology is banned.

I. The Vox article defines learning as remembering information. That’s funny, because learning is not memorizing, and I think all educators would agree on that.

At the same time that many educators will tell us testing misses the mark in evaluating students and that learning isn’t about facts and figures but about critical thinking skills, articles like this are shared widely with the opposite message: learning is your “ability to remember information.” But it isn’t, it’s your ability to synthesize information, think critically, and evaluate claims.

II. This article claims the problem with taking notes on laptops is that students “usually just mindlessly type everything a professor says.” But this isn’t actually a claim about taking notes on laptops vs. paper notebooks, this is an issue of note taking skills. I wouldn’t conflate the Vox article with the study it cites here, but on this point what Vox reports matches the abstract of the study quite well. I don’t agree, instead I’d suggest that if you have good note taking skills you can take good notes in any format.

If you are taught to discern what matters in a lecture or discussion or while reading, you can learn to take useful notes about anything in any format. This problem they bring up of students acting as stenographers is an issues of learning to learn, learning to think critically and yes these are skills that students need. The fact that they don’t have them certainly isn’t the fault of laptops, in fact we should be grateful that we can see they don’t have them by how they are (mis)using the laptops. As educators do we really like the idea that students can only decide what matters because “they can’t write fast enough to get everything down”?

III. The article says students who use laptops “have something unrelated to class” on the screen about 40% of the time. So…. they’re actually talking about a failure to “learn” among students who aren’t using the technology to engage in the class at all? These students are chatting with friends, shopping, doing whatever. So, what does this have to do with the technology or taking notes on a laptop? What does this have to do with using a laptop to learn? Nothing. But still, we get this summary “Research shows students who use laptops perform more poorly in classes.”

IV. Of course, the whole argument is all summed up as common sense, validated by science! What could go wrong with that and with popular reporting about it? If science AND common sense are clear on this — well, it must be true for all students, or maybe not? It certainly isn’t true for me or for other students I’ve seen and spoken with.

I’m picking on this Vox article because it is precisely this kind of article that is shared on Facebook and Twitter and through email lists, without being carefully read, without being critically analyzed. And it winds up standing in for well thought out technology policy and pedagogy in classrooms. I think it’s pretty ironic that the same people who get so excited about the article’s title (“Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop”) because it validates their pre-existing distrust of “technology” (i.e. everything invented after they were born), these same people then fail to think critically about the argument in the article. Hmmm…. Maybe they’re actually the ones who have trouble thinking critically when using a laptop?"

"Classrooms on the Anti-Tech Bandwagon

I’m now seeing Professors jumping on this bandwagon and proudly banning technology in the classroom. And even those who don’t are giving students lectures in class about how we should ban e-books at the university library, and telling students who use laptops in class they should really be writing in a notebook, that is, if they really want to learn… Faculty are even adding notes to their syllabi …"

"The pressure to use “real books” and write in a notebook (preferably a moleskine, right?) has emerged as part of a growing anti-technology fetish among academics, and popular culture broadly. I get the appeal and I love books! I would love it if I could do that, I want all paper books, a room full of them, with ferns and armchairs and whisky and whatever — but it just isn’t how I learn. And it’s expensive, and you have to move them around. And you can’t search in them in the same way. The more precarious academic lives become the more a book collection is a luxury many can’t afford in terms of cost and other factors.

For students like me, technology use in the classroom comes down to a question of how we learn. I need to be able to search a book, copy and paste passages. I’m a scholar because I have technology that allows me to organize, sort, and synthesize information that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to work with. I didn’t learn to be a scholar with paper and pen, or with a typewriter. And I wouldn’t have been able to make it through my degree programs, and excel at my studies, write a thesis, publish papers — without being able to use this technology. I, and many students out there like me, rely on laptops, tablets, phones, and online software in the classroom because it is all assistive technology."
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing  sarahendren  commonsense 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Oman-Reagan on Twitter: "In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism"
[Update: This has now been expanded into an article: ]

"In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism "

[In response to “To Remember More, Take Notes by Hand — Not on a Laptop: ” ]

"Or not, depending on how you learn, think, act, what media you're engaging with, etc. @calestous @SallieHanAnthro"

"While we're on it - let's look at what's going on in this article about taking notes in writing vs typing: "

"First: They define learning as remembering information. Huh? Learning =/= memorizing. "

"Second: They aren't talking abt laptops vs notebooks, they're talking abt note taking skills. "

"Third: They're talking abt students who aren't using tech to be engaged in the class at all. "

"And finally, of course, it's common sense, validated by science. What could go wrong... "

"Of course what's wrong is they are ignoring fact that the tech is assistive for students who know how to use it. "

"So the key is to teach people how to use the tech. Not use those who take useless notes and shop as excuse. "
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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