Accepted Paper:

Self-care(d) prototypes?  
Tomás Criado (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

A materio-semiotic analysis of several commons-based experiments in Spain that are seeking to produce DIY prototypes for the self-care of disabled people in the current context of harsh spending cuts, focusing not only on their empowering and promising effects, but also on their many compromises.

Paper long abstract:

Self-care policies are becoming widespread in many European countries because of different ethical and market drives. As a consequence, a burgeoning market of self-care devices for older and disabled people has arisen in the past years in countries like Spain. In this paper, I would like to focus on the promising articulation of several experimental and commons-based projects that seek to intervene this trend: DIY and P2P self-care prototypes devised by independent-living 'concerned groups' who embrace such strategies as a way to have a greater control over the materialization of their everyday products, seeking to more accurately convey their needs. I have come across some of these projects as part of my involvement since 2012 in a Barcelona-based activist design collective making low-cost and open technical aids for and by disabled people. Grounding on Callon & Çalışkan's (2009, 2010) materio-semiotic approach to the anthropology of markets, in this paper I would like to analyse ethnographically the promises and compromises for the assemblage of alternative economic agents in these commons-based self-care experiments. Despite their empowerment promises to enable more 'habilitated agencies' (Callon, 2008) -that is, more self-managed and active people through an infrastructure of free/libre, cheap and personalised technical aids-, in this paper I would like to dwell on several of their practical compromises: what I term the economic 'self-cared status' of their craftspeople, having severe 'disabling' effects in a context of harsh Welfare state spending cuts and general lack of funding, and hence limiting their potential.

Panel P050
Anthropologies of collective design experiments