Accepted Paper:

Caring otherwise: Self-experimental politics of independent living  


Tomás Criado (Humboldt University of Berlin)
Israel Rodriguez-Giralt (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Paper short abstract:

An ethnographic reflection on the independent-living advocates production of self-care devices in Spain as a form of caring otherwise: tentative but real efforts to engage not only in self-experimenting design practices but also in alternative regimes of 'co-production,' inspiring other STS modes.

Paper long abstract:

A very particular mobilization around care and design is underway in Spain: the activist production of self-care devices by independent-living collectives as a response both to the inadequacy of standardized market products and the increasing lack of funds or the 'cracks' in the publicly-regulated dispensary of technical aids: a governmentality scheme usually referred to as 'the catalogue'. Drawing on the ethnographic involvement of one the authors in a Barcelona-based activist design collective En torno a la silla (ETS) we will narrate the context, practices and strategies of these mobilisations as a form of 'wild research:' where independent-living activists and engaged professionals jointly explore ways of 'intervening' or 'exiting' the catalogue, gaining a greater control over the materialization of everyday care arrangements. ETS is, in fact, devoted to (a) prototyping and making low-cost and open-source technical aids through collaborative design processes; and (b) openly documenting these DIY innovations. Building from here, we would like to qualify ETS's practices as a form of 'caring otherwise:' that is, self-experimental design practices where alternative epistemic and material 'regimes of co-production' are experimented and demonstrated. As we will argue, ETS' self-experimentations bring to the fore a 'wilder' technoscientific production grounded on embodied knowledge, collaborative material interventions, and the 'exemplary politics' of open documentation seeking to put forward a 'more radical' version of independent-living. We would also like to reflect how the ethnographic engagement in the open documentation of the collective might bring with it a more materialist and interventionist mode of practicing STS.

Panel T105
Wild research: Radical openings in technoscientific practice?