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Experimental transformations - Living labs as hopeful commons [FAN] 
Simone Abram (Durham University)
Maja Hojer Bruun (Aarhus University)
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Great Hall
Friday 29 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

Experiments are often designed with a view to transforming something in the world. Some kinds of experiment are more ‘worldly’ than others, engaging people in their everyday lives or accessing areas of common property, knowledge or culture. What kind of experiments are, for example, Living Labs? Do they exploit knowledge commons, appropriate hope of change, or reproduce existing notions of user-driven innovation and/or experimental science?

Long Abstract:

Anthropology has a long history of skirting around the notion of experimenting, and long standing ambivalences about the goal of change for the better versus the risk of unwanted consequences from ‘interference’ in social life. Recently, the notion of living labs, and other 'user-centric' research methodologies for prototyping and scenario-building in so-called real life settings, have become more popular in research, product and service development and in policy contexts. This has entailed calls for more anthropological input, broader participation, and use of ethnographic methods. Such calls rely on a concept of transformation through experimentation entailing assumptions about the generation of knowledge, the value of lived experience, future imaginaries and the role of common knowledge.

What does it imply to frame a city, community or environment as a laboratory or testbed for emerging technologies and ideas? Especially where this might be among vulnerable parts of the population and/or in the Global South, after long histories of exploitation. Who takes the role of designing experiments with ambitions to be transformative, whether design sprint, living lab, hacking events, intentional communities or settlements? What role do participants have in 'citizen science' and for what or whose benefit?

On the other hand, what potential for collaborative learning and common knowledge may there be and how can such potential be unfolded? How can anthropologists, with the discipline's long standing tension between field and lab, approach these methodologies? What epistemological and ontological challenges do we encounter in such collaborations?

This panel invites conventional and unconventional contributions in a panel format.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -