Critical Itineraries of Technoscience
This year’s Technoscience Salon invites participants to craft and share critical itineraries that respond to the political urgencies of lives and worlds altered by colonialism and expanding global capitalism.
Through critical itineraries, the Salon will bring postcolonial studies, indigenous studies, critical race studies, and feminist and queer studies to bear on the ways we follow and tell stories about technoscience. We aspire to provoke interventions into our analytic, narrative, and political habits, to spark scholarship that is accountable to multiple histories and contemporary urgencies, and to rethink the relationships among diversely situated human and nonhuman actors. While recognizing how technoscience is deeply implicated in violence, how might we also attend to the non-hegemonic possibilities, alters, and elsewheres that are within technoscience?
Celia Lowe (University of Washington)
Discussants: Adriel Weaver (University of Toronto), Johanna Pokorny (University of Toronto)
Chair: Bretton Fosbrook (York University)
Chair: Julia Gruson-Wood (York University)
Friday November 8th, 4-6 pm :: CANCELLED
Thursday, January 9, 4-6pm :: GENEALOGICAL ASPIRATIONS
Alondra Nelson (Columbia University)
Chair :: Brianna Hersey (University of Toronto)
Friday, February 14th, 4-6pm :: IMPERIAL DEBRIS
Gregg Mitman (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Denielle Elliott (York University)
Discussants :: Kira Lussier (University of Toronto), Justin Douglas (University of Toronto)
Chair :: Jessica Caporusso (York University)
Friday, March 28th :: ALTER LIFE: BIOLOGY + TECHNOLOGY + ART
Michelle Murphy, Natasha Myers, Jennifer Willet, Jackie Orr, Dehlia Hanna, and more.
Friday, April 4th, 4:30 – 6:30 pm :: ONTOLOGIES
*This event will take place in the Anthropology Conference Room (AP 246).
Chair :: Emily Simmonds
This year’s Technoscience Salon invites participants to craft and share critical itineraries that respond to the political urgencies of lives and worlds altered by colonialism and expanding global capitalism. We acknowledge that the development of science and technology has been integral to aggressive resource extraction, the exploitation of marginalized peoples, colonialism and empire building, and inseparable from asymmetrical geopolitical relationships. However, technoscience studies has inadequately wrestled with the relations among the diversity of actors, knowledges, sites and cosmologies which inform the multiplicity of technoscience’s histories and practices. While recognizing how technoscience is deeply implicated in violence, how might we also attend to the non-hegemonic possibilities, alters, and elsewheres that are within technoscience?
This year’s salon seeks to bring insights from postcolonial studies, indigenous studies, critical race studies, and feminist and queer studies to bear on the ways we follow and tell stories about technoscience. By crafting critical itineraries of technoscience, the Salon hopes to provoke interventions into our analytic, narrative, and political habits, to spark scholarship that is accountable to multiple histories and responsive to contemporary urgencies, and to rethink the relationships among diversely situated human and nonhuman actors. We hope the invitation to create critical itineraries stimulates participants to step outside the packaged tours and the comfortable bubbles of conceptual patterns/repertoires. Critical Itineraries can be genealogies that take us to nonhabitual and unexpected starting places. Critical Itineraries can be speculative journeys toward imagining other pasts and futures, or even the elsewhere within here. Critical itineraries do not just map routes, they challenge the very sense of stable ground, given history, expected direction, and appropriate contact. By inviting participants to craft and share critical itineraries, this year’s Salon asks us to think together multiplicity, accountability to violence and aspirations for other ways.
It is in this moment of heightened awareness and resistance to the terra-forming, extinguishing and life-altering consequences of global capitalism that the Salon seeks to encourage charged accounts of the possibilities and complicities of technoscience. Technoscience is uneasily and diversely imbricated in the colliding worlds that global capitalism has set in motion. Technoscience is knotted inside of practices of ecological violence as much as it is a mode for conjuring environmental justice. Our interest in creating a space for thinking about the politics of technoscience is motivated by attention to the cosmological and material encounters that this moment necessitates and demands. Thus, the focus of the Salon is to foster alternative itineraries for dealing with the urgent conjunctures of ecology, life and technoscience in dialogue with postcolonial, indigenous, critical race, feminist, and queer scholarship.
Critical scholarly stories of technoscience are filled with habitual arguments and starting points: critiquing the divide between nature and culture, finding origins in the West that then move outward to other places, or explaining facts as the results of networks, relations and contexts. Thus, this year’s Salon asks participants to challenge these habits and create other politically charged itineraries for understanding how technoscience takes part in and traverses worlds. What are the encounters that shape and disturb technoscience? What are the histories and possibilities that technoscience crosses and is transformed by?
Our interest in itinerates is also inspired by the conceptual question of how to attend to relationality. Itineraries can make connections, plot movement between points, reroute and reorientate. In other words, itineraries are invested in tracing relations. Uncovering how facts, objects, subjects, and identities are made possible through the relations that converge on them has become a formulaic mode of explanation, and often carries the assumption that to expose relationality is to do critique. For example, ecology has been an important relational figure for explaining how things come to matter that has travelled across disciplines: to narrate a phenomenon as an ecology is often considered a more critical account because it attends to dynamic connections and complexities rather than fixed structures. But are all accounts of relationality always critical? What are the habits that make up the way we imagine relations? And what are the redemptive assumptions at stake in relational accounts? The task of exposing relations can be a critical diagnostic, but it is always also a symptom of its moment, inseparable from its political and social context and often indebted to the scientific epistemologies technoscience studies sets out to situate. Often relationality is fantasied as a critique of mechanical and managerial ontologies, yet relationality can also be seen as a central epistemological figure of capitalism. Attention to relationality has become the habitual analytic cure for the binary division of nature/culture, subject/object, human/nonhuman, East/West, South/North. At the same time, modes of relational thinking have been crucial to indigenous, anti-colonial, and non-Western cosmologies. Thus, at the conceptual register, by posing the challenge of creating critical itineraries, the Salon hopes to provoke conversation about the stakes that run through and animate commitments to thinking relationally.
It is our hope that creating critical itineraries forces us to grapple with the serious material consequences of technoscience without falling into pessimism. The regimes of truth of contemporary technoscience offer ways of attaching and detaching scientific practices from the material violence they are implicated in. How does technoscience offer narratives of its own role within global warming, extraction, genocide, and privatization? How do hegemonic accounts posit technoscience as spatially and ethically separated and distant from ubiquitous and structural violence? Piracy, smuggling, poaching, squatting and copying are criminalized as illegitimate acts, yet they can be also recognized as forms of non-hegemonic technoscience. How might critical itineraries reassemble the terms and boundaries of how technoscience attaches and disavows its relations to violence and inequality?
- How might we offer alternative departure points for accounts of technoscience?
- How do political, anti-colonial, and queer commitments provoke other trajectories and routes that destabilize the very ground on which we narrate technoscience?
- How to disrupt the habitual actors that are part of stories of technoscience? Who are the actors that make critical itineraries possible? What actors get attended to? Who can be heard? What epistemologies and translational commitments are needed to listen across communities and cosmologies?
- Itineraries are often filled with crossings, encounters, and collisions. How to be accountable to the violence of such conjunctures while also attentive to other possibilities of becoming together and coexistence?
- Marilyn Strathern sagely reminds us that relatives are always a surprise. How can we become more open to the risk of inviting surprise into our methods? How might itineraries startle us into thinking new possibilities?
- Crafting critical itineraries must also disturb the linear sense of passage that the term carries. What shapes can itineraries trace that are not necessarily linear? How do itineraries loop, spiral, zig zag, move sideways, submerge and re-emerge? How do they disconnect as much as connect? What alternate histories do critical itineraries evoke and demand? How can we be accountable to what has been erased?
- Relations are often thought of in terms of transmission, violence, responses, attachments, kinship, genealogies, entanglements or comparison. What other modes of relationality are we willing to engage? Hospitality? Translation? Reconciliation? Detachment? Dissimilarity?
- Tracing non-hegemonic itineraries can amplify our attention to undecidability, precariousness, messiness, vulnerability, accident, conflict, and the difficult relations that make up technoscience. How might we resist putting technoscience into neat and comfortable packages?
- How might critical itineraries disrupt and provincialize claims of universal knowledge without romanticizing, exoticizing and rendering nostalgic local knowledge? What work do designations of local knowledge do in creating epistemic hierarchies? How can we reconfigure the politics between universal and particular, global and local?