Subversion, Conversion, Development: Cross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design

Subversion, Conversion, Development: Cross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design

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Overview

Explorations of design, use, and reuse of information technology in diverse historical and cultural contexts.

This book explores alternative cultural encounters with and around information technologies. These encounters are alternative because they counter dominant, Western-oriented notions of media consumption; they include media practices as forms of cultural resistance and subversion, “DIY cultures,” and other nonmainstream models of technology production. The contributors—leading thinkers in science and technology studies, anthropology, and software design—pay special attention to the specific inflections that different cultures and communities give to the value of knowledge. The richly detailed accounts presented here challenge the dominant view of knowledge as a neutral good—information available for representation and encoding but separated from all social relations.

The chapters examine specific cases in which the forms of knowledge and cross-cultural encounters are shaping technology use and development. They consider design, use, and reuse of technological tools, including databases, GPS devices, books, and computers, in locations that range from Australia and New Guinea to Germany and the United States.

Contributors
Poline Bala, Alan Blackwell, Wade Chambers, Michael Christie, Hildegard Diemberger, Stephen Hugh-Jones, James Leach, Jerome Lewis, Dawn Nafus, Gregers Petersen, Marilyn Strathern, David Turnbull, Helen Verran, Laura Watts, Lee Wilson

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262027168
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 04/25/2014
Series: Infrastructures
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James Leach is Professor of Anthropology and ARC Future Fellow at the School of Social and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia and Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/CREDO, France.

Lee Wilson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.

James Leach is Professor of Anthropology and ARC Future Fellow at the School of Social and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia and Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/CREDO, France.

Lee Wilson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.

Laura Watts is a poet, writer, ethnographer of futures, and Interdisciplinary Senior Lecturer in Energy and Society in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh. As a science and technology studies scholar she has explored the effect of “edge” landscapes on how thefuture is imagined and made. She is coauthor of Ebban an' Flowan , the world's first poetic primer formarine renewable energy, and in 2017 shewon the International Cultural Innovation Prize with the ReconstrainedDesign Group for acommunity-built energy storage device designed fromscrap.

Alan Blackwell is Reader in Interdisciplinary Design in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge.

Dawn Nafus is Senior Research Scientist at Intel Labs and the editor of Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life (MIT Press).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Anthropology, Cross-Cultural Encounter, and the Politics of Design James Leach Lee Wilson 1

2 Liminal Futures: Poem for Islands at the Edge Laura Watts 19

3 Freifunk: When Technology and Politics Assemble into Subversion Gregers Petersen 39

4 Postcolonial Databasing? Subverting Old Appropriations, Developing New Associations Helen Verran Michael Christie 57

5 Sacred Books in a Digital Age: A Cross-Cultural Look from the Heart of Asia to South America Hildegard Diemberger Stephen Hugh-Jones 79

6 Redeploying Technologies: ICT for Greater Agency and Capacity for Political Engagement in the Kelabit Highlands Poline Bala 105

7 Making the Invisible Visible: Designing Technology for Nonliterate Hunter-Gatherers Jerome Lewis 127

8 Assembling Diverse Knowledges: Trails and Storied Spaces in Time David Turnbull Wade Chambers 153

9 Structuring the Social: Inside Software Design Alan F. Blackwell 183

10 Design for X: Prediction and the Embeddedness (or Not) of Research in Technology Production Dawn Nafus 201

11 Engaging Interests Marilyn Strathern 223

12 Subversion, Conversion, Development: Imaginaries, Knowledge Forms, and the Uses of ICTs James Leach Lee Wilson 231

Contributors 245

Index 247

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