Technoscience Salon

Technoscience Salon @ SLSA 2018

The Technoscience Salon will be a featured event at this year’s SLSA (Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts) Conference in Toronto

Out of Place :: Decolonial Intersectional Queer Feminist Tactics for Getting Out of Here

November 15, 2018, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

OCAD, Open Space Gallery

49 McCaul Street

Organizers :: Beth Coleman (University of Waterloo) and Natasha Myers (York University)

Chair :: Natasha Myers

Speakers :: Reena Shadaan (York University), Grisha Coleman (Arizona State University) and Jasmine Rault (University of Toronto)

Stirrers: Michelle Murphy (University of Toronto) and Beth Coleman

This Technoscience Salon gathering at SLSA is meant to bring people visiting Toronto together with people who have been gathering here and thinking together over some time. This event builds on conversations taking shape in recent years in Technoscience Salons focusing on decolonial and Black feminist technoscience studies (2017-18 and 2018-19) and the reimagined McLuhan Centre, especially MsUnderstanding Media and The Mechanical Bro series (2017-18 and 2018-19). The ‘we’ who have been meeting up, many of us as uninvited guests on this land, are in conversation across different relations to land, location, nation, gender, sex, race, disciplinarity, precarity and security. In these meetups we’ve been working on and in assemblages that centre decolonial, intersectional feminist, trans, queer research and politics around media and technoscience. The theme “out of place” attends to both senses of the phrase: those bodies, materials, matters, technologies, ideas that are not in their place; as well as those which are located, emerging out of place, and in relations with land.


Reena Shadaan (York University)Borders, Belonging, and Bhopal

On December 2nd 1984, the Bhopal Gas Disaster – the world’s worst industrial disaster – took place in Old Bhopal, India. In addition to the 7,000 – 10,000 deaths that occurred within the first three days, the Bhopal disaster led to a myriad of harms – widespread injuries and chronic illnesses that led to losses of livelihoods, intergenerational health impacts, and soil and groundwater contamination that has grown to 42 different localities. Those disproportionately affected by the Bhopal disaster and its aftermath are Muslims, the poor, and populations who were displaced from their villages by development projects in rural India. In short, the Bhopal gas disaster is disproportionately borne by bodies deemed “out of place” – bodies constructed as troublesome outsiders because they are from marginalized communities and because they resist the violence enacted upon them. The outsider status allotted to survivors can be seen in a number of examples. This includes the contentious claim that those impacted settled after the Union Carbide plant opened, anti-poor attitudes, anti-Muslim sentiment backed by the Hindu Nationalist state and central governments, and the recent effort to erase the disaster from Bhopal’s memory. To be “out of place” evokes the construction of physical and metaphysical borders that serve to exclude. However, the disaster and its aftermath point to the permeability of borders – as toxics cross bodies, fencelines, and environments; as multinational corporations cross national borders; and as worker-community and transnational solidarities arise. While Bhopal is marked as a space of heinous capitalist violence, it is also marked by 34-years of resistance to this violence – a resistance that is rooted in and affirms survivors’ claim to place.

Grisha Coleman (Arizona State University) The Movement Undercommons: Movement Analysis as Meaning Making in a Time of Global Migrations

While migration studies are generally approached in geographical/statistical/geo-political terms [time, histories, routes], this project considers migratory movement at the scale of individual human movement. movement as a marker of identity expressed through qualities of posture, rhythm, gesture, tempo, orientation. Each person’s movement is unique, an individual’s movement ‘fingerprint’, and this project seeks to reveal and honor the specific, fluid, complex qualities of a people in motion of body and location, while adding to a critical discourse surrounding issues of contemporary migration. This is a position paper describing the research framework behind a new project which proposes an exploration of movement and mobility amongst internal migratory populations within two pilot areas; South Africa and Greece. This work develops our previous work [1] [Iyengar, V., Coleman, G. et. al. 2016], creating a repository for a growing collection of high-resolution motion-capture ‘portraits’. This repository will not only hold the source documentation of movement sequences, but also serve as an open platform for those recorded. It will become a space for discussion, creative interpretation, translation, annotation, and analysis. The repository opens a public space for artists, researchers, dancers, ethnographers, humanists, and somatic movement educators to respond and add diverse layers of meaning; creative interpretation, social and historical context, and technological and somatic analysis. Thus, we build an expandable platform for exploring the linguistics of movement through a range of responses.

Jasmine Rault (University of Toronto) Window Walls and Other Matters of Justice: the Toronto Dominion Towers, Bird Life and the Romance of Transparency

My paper will trace a tangled romance between whiteness, transparency and justice (or justness) by way of Toronto’s first curtainless windows, the TD Towers designed by Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1969. This romance is the ‘here’ that this essay will consider getting out of. The story involves Enlightenment era liberal theory (featuring Jean-Jacques Rousseau with cameos by Jeremy Bentham), modernist architecture, surveillance capitalism and a lot of dead birds. The Toronto organization FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) estimates that 9 million birds are killed in ‘fatal bird-window collisions each year’ in Toronto alone, 25 million across Canada, and between 100 million and 1 billion birds across North America. As FLAP’s national advocacy organization, Bird Safe, puts it, “unfortunately, birds have no concept of glass” ( Humans certainly do – a concept that transposed glass from a building material to a modern liberal medium whose message is justice (naked honesty, transparent truth and smooth efficiency). Increasingly, calls for and performances of transparency have come to seem synonymous with accountability, invoked as both an exercise of and challenge to power, serving suspiciously as “perhaps the ultimate consensual value of our time” (Alloa & Thomä 2018: 2). But not by ornithologists and bird-safety organizations like FLAP, who have recognized that this conceptual matter destroys more lives than it supports and advocate for forms of justice that involve less rather than more transparency. In a grossly anthropocentric move, this essay asks what humans can learn about transparency from birds. What forms of life has the glass window wall asked us to sacrifice in the service of our most prominent and political aesthetic?