Accepted Paper:

Phenomenal Séances and Apparent Interdisciplinarities   

Author:

Yelena Gluzman (University of California, San DIego)

Paper short abstract:

A séance, like theater and lab experiment, is a configuration of materials to encourage particular apparitions to manifest. This paper focuses on two related apparitions—empathy and interdisciplinarity—to inquire about the conditions allowing each to become sensible and thus actionable.

Paper long abstract:

A séance, like theater and like laboratory experiment, is a configuration of materials, expectancies and attention that encourages particular apparitions to manifest. This paper takes as its focus two related apparitions—empathy and interdisciplinarity—to inquire about the conditions allowing each to become sensible and thus actionable.

Empathy and interdisciplinarity are often articulated as imperatives in cognitive science, theater studies and STS. While there is disagreement about how empathic and interdisciplinary bridges should be built, the mandate of bridge-building is largely unproblematic. This paper considers how specific configurations of interdisciplinarity are enfolded with empathy to theorize what sorts of actions such configurations allow.

To do this, I focus on two sites. One is a cognitive neuroscience lab that has been the object of my research over the past year; here, I pursued a STS "lab studies"-type project not only as a participant observer, but also as a theater-maker and interlocutor. Here, by taking up the model of experimentality so central to lab practice, I attempted to intervene in core assumptions around sociality and empathy by offering alternative experimental events to consider collectively. The second site of my focus will be the conference panel at which this talk will be given. By using the resources of the conference panel—those assembled, the flow of attention, and the discursive expectations of the event—the presentation will itself function as a séance of sorts, calling forth and investigating the particular empathic and interdisciplinary apparitions that haunt us, and that we seek to know.

Panel T059
Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience