(B09)
Feminist figures: crafting intersections in theory and practice
Location Welcome Centre Lecture Theatre 3
Date and Start Time 25 Jul, 2018 at 13:00
Sessions 3

Convenors

  • Joan Haran (Cardiff University) email
  • Kate O'Riordan (University of Sussex ) email

Mail All Convenors

Short abstract

This panel engages with feminist figures in two senses: the figurations that feminists have crafted to provoke innovative engagements with technoscience and the widely cited feminist figures whose work gathers up their readers and audiences in collaborative projects of theory-making and practice.

Long abstract

This panel engages with feminist figures in two senses: the figurations that feminist science studies scholars, speculative writers, and environmental activists (for example) have crafted to provoke innovative engagements with science and technology, and the extensively cited feminist figures whose work gathers up their readers and audiences in collaborative projects of theory-making and practice. These projects might be called worlding and / or staying with the trouble as they harness the openness to possibility of speculation to rigorous attention to the myriad challenges posed by social and environmental injustice.

Feminist figures in the first sense include the cat's cradle (Haraway), diffraction (Haraway, Barad) and the spiral dance (Starhawk, Haraway), all of which are used to imagine and elaborate feminist modes of knowledge creation. Feminist figures, in the second sense might include, for example, Karen Barad, Octavia Butler, Shulamith Firestone, Donna Haraway, Starhawk, Isabelle Stengers. However, the panel also encourages work that articulates orientations towards less well known figures and brings new material to these constellations.

Papers are invited that focus on making and sustaining alliances across and around these figures, including broader collective identities such as (post)cyberfeminism, feminist materialism, feminist speculation. Contributions may focus on makers, learning and collaborative work, feminist genealogies, and the work of mending and repair in theoretical and practical registers. Figures may operate to bring together different communities, or produce difference and disturbance. Panellists may discuss the ways in which these feminist figures meet in their own work or illuminate consequential meetings in their research sites.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Why fabulate design?

Author: Daniela Rosner (University of Washington) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper examines a case study of critical fabulation, ways of storytelling that rework how things that we design come into being and what they do in the world.

Long abstract

This paper examines ways of storytelling that rework how things that we design come into being and what they do in the world. Derived from the practice of critical fabulation, I describe a case study based in Seattle, Washington that orients design toward different narrative potentials. Feminist philosophers Saidiya Hartman, Vinciane Despret, and Donna Haraway have discussed fabulations as imaginative resources that make way for living differently in the present. Critical fabulation for Hartman are a "double gesture [that] can be described as straining against the limits of the archive to write a cultural history of the captive, and, at the same time, enacting the impossibility of representing the lives of the captives precisely through the process of narration." They blend the real and implausible in the manner of science fiction to open pathways for examining the tensions within. By making stories and catalyzing new embodied ways of knowing through design, critical fabulations draw attention to the contested nature of knowledge productions while caring for their repercussions—nurturing what Haraway describes as an "obligation of and capacity for responsive attentiveness."

Time travel as research method for reverse engineering feminist archives

Authors: Niamh Moore (University of Edinburgh) email
Niamh Moore (University of Edinburgh) email
Niamh Moore (University of Edinburgh) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

We explore live and archival methods focusing on a project that involves the reverse engineering of thirty year old study of teenage sexuality. We elaborate on the importance of feminist methodologies in a transdiciplinary archival turn, operationalizing time as a resource for feminist analysis.

Long abstract

In this paper we explore how live and archival methods can be brought together in social research, focusing on a project that involves the reverse engineering of thirty year old study of teenage sexuality. In the paper we elaborate on the important place of feminist methodologies within a transdiciplinary archival turn and conceptualise a series of moves that operationalize time itself as a resource for social analysis. These include rematriating and reanimating data, and different kinds of temporal mash-ups. Our focus on women of different generations together researching time, technology and teenage sexuality allows us to image time travel as a feminist methodological practice that connects academia to other knowledge communities .

Sensing a constellation: dancing forward a desirable future

Author: Margaret Westby (Metropolitan College of New York) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

How can contemporary techno-feminism generate a constellation of hopes, solidarities, and intersectional practices in order to dance forward a desirable future? I present an analysis and reflection on an interactive installation "Sensing a Constellation" (2017) by goldjian and Westby.

Long abstract

How can contemporary techno-feminism generate a constellation of hopes, solidarities, and intersectional practices in order to dance forward a desirable future? For the EASST 2018 conference, I would like to present an analysis and reflection on an interactive installation "Sensing a Constellation" (2017) by Westby and goldjian that occurred at the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab in Montréal, Canada. This constellation is part of a larger project, developed by goldjian, who started to conceptualize the work during a residency at Mur.at in Graz, Austria.

The paper addresses what strategies were created, what methodologies were used, and what possibilities are achieved through thinking through feminist, healing, decolonial, and hacking practices. Goldenberg and I are influenced by the concept of commons (Cornelia Sollfrank) in which art acts as a speculative tool to imagine alternative modes to ownership and collective ways of being. We weaved a constellation of different forms of phenomena including healing sounds, poetry, text, images, paintings, and videos.

The work of writer, social justice facilitator, and healer Adrienne Maree Brown's theory of emergent strategies motivates our process. Moving forward from science fiction writer Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Brown details her visionary incantation to transform systems of power in order to counter-impose the world shaped by hierarchical thinking. She invites us to "feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen" (Brown 2017). This is the first iteration into an ongoing process.

Re-crafting indexical issues: a spherology of feminisms explicated by visual means

Author: Amanda Windle (University of the Arts London) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper is a walk through a multiplicity of feminisms, that constitute a spherology of being-in something. By way of data visualisation the indexicality to a philosophy of spheres is disentangled through a craft of alchemy to uncover a spherology of feminisms.

Long abstract

The ways academics are indexed and use indexes matter because systems of indexicality (citations, bibliography, endnotes, and references) shape the way we casually speak and move about the world. What follows is an account of the systemic practice of indexicality in the Spheres index at the back of the 'Spheres' trilogy ([1998-2004] 2011-2016). From Donna Haraway (2017) through to Karla Poewe (2018) multiple feminisms matter. Initially, I approached indexicality as a counting matter, to show how Peter Sloterdijk is primarily negligible towards women, and the vulnerable. Creating a diagrammatic index of disciplinarity I then consider, which themes and metaphors are supported by whom and just how in-depth or global are the references to their respective disciplines? I caution at the optimism to create new tools in the digital and show how various new systems of indexicality might repeat rather than disentangle distortions in design oration. Voronoi diagrams are chosen over Venn diagrams because of the prevalence of casual sexism implied in the presentation and oration of the Venn diagram.

Meeting in collaborative figurations

Author: Waltraud Ernst (Johannes Kepler University Linz) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Feminist figurations have been keen on rendering other worlds possible: other worldings. To understand technoscientific figurations as a practice of worlding among others, opens the space for alternative meetings. How to meet in collaborative technoscientific realities with feminist responsibility?

Long abstract

Feminist figurations have been keen on rendering other worlds possible. They have promoted other worlds as not only thinkable and materializable but already materialized - at the fringes or margins or flip sides of dominating views: other worldings. They have produced other narratives about the past as well as about the present and the future. They have taken into account the power of technoscientific worldings. To understand technoscientific figurations not necessarily as true descriptions of reality, but instead as a practice of worlding among others, opens the space for alternative meetings on this contested field.

To think truth and reality as plural, as collaborative worldly endeavours and related to the environmentally entangled - or situated - speaking subject, as a process of contesting possible figurations, has been a crucial achievement of feminist technoscience studies and epistemology until today.

There have been prominent US based figures as Londa Schiebinger, Sandra Harding, Donna Haraway and Karen Barad to promote rethinking and refiguring the technoscientifically defined past, present and future. I understand these powerful promotions as invitations to meet elsewhere, beyond established categories. Is new materialism such a new encounter zone?

What about worlding beyond familiar meeting places? Meetings in collaborative figurations of technoscientific realities demand not only political and ethical responsibility but also a willingness to establish trust with strangers in cooperative settings and projects. In the paper I want to discuss this challenge from my experience as a feminist epistemologist and sts scholar in transdisciplinary technoscientific R & D projects.

Modelling cells in risky comakings and devious worlds

Authors: Abigail Durrant (Northumbria University) email
Alex Taylor (City, University of London) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

We use String Figures and Involutionary Momentum to "read against the grain" of a contemporaneous biology characterised by reduction. Working through the design of a tool that models cellular stability, we spin a yarn of "affectively charged" relations between researchers, cells and technologies.

Long abstract

Drawing from her foundational studies of biology, Evelyn Fox Keller writes of a complexity and connectedness that might just characterise our 'devious' world(s). She has traced threads through biology for over 40 years, drawing attention to—amongst other things—how it has often resisted the explanatory powers conferred upon its counterparts in other natural sciences. A pragmatic approach has dominated, she extols, in which unknowns have been a part of biology's messy reality.

Looking ahead, to the deepening entanglements between biology and computation, we find contemporaneous imaginaries surrounding cellular life to be testing this lineage. Certainly—as Keller herself has reflected—computation makes possible very particular modes of understanding, ones conforming to what Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers view as a 'reductive, mechanistic, and adaptationist logics' that characterise a prevailing neo-Darwinism.

In this paper, we wish to cut across what on the face it appears to be biology's narrowing move. By 'looking askew', we hope to ask more about biology and whether or not it is being rendered computational. Examining a project invested in the computational challenges of modelling cellular stability, and relying on the 'risky comakings' (after Haraway) between actors, algorithms and computational tools, we stay committed to the troubles enlivened by knotted relations. We use two feminist figures, Haraway's String Figure, and Hustak and Myer's Involutionary Momentum, to (re-)tell a story of unfolding relationships between researchers, cells and technologies, spinning a yarn of 'affectively charged' (after Hustak and Myers) relays and knottings that resist singular figurings.

Living in/as im/possibility: on our response-ability to mend

Author: Jonnet Middleton (Lancaster University) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Mending is im/possible in a world order in which matter doesn't matter. As ontoworker (not-artist/activist) I rehearse posthuman material worlds in the abyssal space of potential between the known possible world of the dominant order and the im/possible alternative worlds of our own (re)configuring.

Long abstract

I read Barad's posthuman performativity as an activist manual for fleshy critters like us to reconfigure a world in which matter really matters. This labour, or 'ontowork', turns theories of mattering into matterings of theory. I live in/as 'ontoexperiment' practising response-ability (Barad, Haraway) in radically unthinkable material entanglements of posthuman endurance. Who attempts to perform Barad's gravity-shifting account in the world it is for, testing how response-ability materialises in concrete worlds? It's an incommensurate task to which we are all obliged to respond (Barad). I live in/as refusal of the dominant neoliberal logic, in/as im/possibility (Barad), at the threshold of knowing, being and doing (Povinelli). Who else inhabits this abyssal space of potential? It's hard for us to find each other. We must stay with the trouble together, refusing, reconfiguring, and asking 'where the hell is everyone else?' (Halberstam, Moten and Harney).

Mending performs the posthumanly 'im/possible' by reconfiguring dominant perceptions of the limits of matter. It's affirmation of how humans and their material accoutrements can be radically otherwise (Povinelli), proof of still possible material worlds (Haraway). It 'undoes the givenness' (Barad) of the dominant order in which mattering makes no sense. Mending is both a sensory unravelling of the 'sensible' dominant order (Rancière) and a material reconfiguring of the myriad troubling holes. As material activism, mending is a materialisation of response-ability to the trouble, and a possible performance of capitalism's undoing (Papadopoulos). Mending is the abyssal potential of the excess.

Opening an ecological differently speculative ethics?

Author: Guillem Palà (Autonomous University of Barcelona) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Gabriel Tarde's work opens an excellent opportunity for feminist approaches to revisit the conceptualization of the difference. This paper explores the possibility to move towards an ecological differently speculative ethics, questioning, as a mantra, 'what would be an encounter?'

Long abstract

This paper links two empirical explorations focus on the production of new beings: a participatory experience with the elderly talking about technology to inform political recommendations and a participative design with children and engineers prototyping social robots. Two different ways of conjoin science, technology and society. Two different devices placed in order to reach consensus between different actors and to produce things. Two different ways of undermine the expected investigation goals. Nevertheless, the reflection about 'what do we wrong?' allows us to explore not only those other collateral realities produced unexpectedly, but also an ethical approach moved by a mantra: the question about 'what could be an encounter?'

Departing from Gabriel Tarde's work, we will suggest the possibility of moving towards an 'ecological differently speculative ethics'. We consider that is vital to ask ourselves about the ways in which we 'come together to differ together'. We consider that is vital to speculate with a notion of care that enables an approach to encounters as ecologies of relevance, to allow the participating monads to differentiate collectively in a way that puts the life of the whole foreground. From this perspective, facing the future becomes a recursive speculation about how to take care of the encounters, how to make them ecological, how to enable every participant to differentiate itself consistently with its potential, but above all, by attending to the worlds that she will contribute to produce with her participation in the encounter.

Crafting companions and cyborgs: anger and attachment

Author: Kate O'Riordan (University of Sussex ) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

The paper traces a partial examination of the cyborg manifesto as life writing; debates about the cyborg in the field; practices of cyborg writing; anger, rejection and reconfiguration (embryo and doppelganger); as well as its relation to life itself more broadly conceived.

Long abstract

Crafting cyborgs and companions: anger and attachments

One of Haraway's most charismatic and widely traveled figures is that of the cyborg. It emerges as a figure in her writing in the 1980s and 1990s (1985, 1991, 1997) and enables important interventions in thinking about life and technology. The cyborg is a figure for thinking about lives as always, already technological and prosthetic. One of its gifts is that it offers a different way into this than technological evolutionism or the post-humanism of actor network theory. The cyborg is a singular figure, although in her work singularity is always multiple, and allows for thinking about the life of life story and technology (e.g. Henwood, Kennedy and Miller 2001).

The cyborg is a life writing technology, which, in its first instantiation (1985, 1981), enables a specific account of socio political historical context in which Star Wars, Sputnik, chip making and the transition of computers from people to machines are significant. The intervention that Haraway made historically in relation to science and technology studies has new purchase in relation to resurgent God tricks in materialist and (post)phenomenological approaches which have currency right now (e.g. Stiegler, 2013; Morton, 2013). The figure of the cyborg then and Haraway's sense of life as non-human-human entanglement remain potent interventions in the current moment. This paper revisits and examines Haraway's utopian writing about life and the technological through the cyborg by examining how it has traveled and the anger and attachments such crafting has generated.

"I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess": the meeting place/time of the spiral dance

Author: Joan Haran (Cardiff University) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto" concludes: "Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." This paper interrogates the figure of the spiral dance as a meeting place/time for the cyborg and the goddess and for feminist studies of technoscience and ecofeminism.

Long abstract

In the "Cyborg Manifesto", Haraway suggests that: "Ironically, it might be the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita jail* whose constructed unities will guide effective oppositional strategies. Spiral dancing is a ritual practice associated with Starhawk and her work on feminist earth-based spirituality and non violent direct action, The Spiral Dance (1979). This paper interrogates amnesia around Haraway's linkage of the spiral dance with unnatural cyborg women. It gives an account of the choreography and ritual of a spiral dance in order to draw out its utility as a figure for movement-building in relation to ecofeminism and feminist studies of technoscience.

The paper also draws out the ways in which the work - authorial, pedagogical and political - of Starhawk and Haraway continues to meet in a spiral dance that inspires and informs oppositional strategies in relation to social and environmental justice. To what extent do Starhawk's "Earth Activist Training" and Haraway's "The Camille Stories", for example, invite and incite participation in effective oppositional strategies?

Mother nature, earth as mother and queer cyborggoddesses: refiguring (eco)feminist genealogies through Clayoquot Sound

Author: Niamh Moore (University of Edinburgh) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper revisits the figures of mother nature and earth as mother through stories of ecofeminist activists and asks, given more widespread engagement now with naturecultures, new materialisms, and anthropogenic climate change, what can be upcycled from the trashing of ecofeminism.

Long abstract

Ecofeminist engagements with the figures of mother nature and earth as mother have long been the object of feminist critique. But these critiques - in effect, of essentialism - are critiques from an anthropocentric feminism, and they are critiques of the figure of a straw (eco)feminist.

This paper revisits these figures through stories of ecofeminist activists who set up a peace camp in Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, in 1993, to protest against clear-cut logging of temperate rainforest. Over 800 people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience, blockading roads into logging areas.

Clayoquot is a significant site for many reasons - not only for its temperate rainforests, but also because the peace camp was often described as based on ecofeminist principles (see Moore 2015). Starhawk has long led witchcamps, and now Earth Activist Training, in BC, and many activists had a long involvement with these trainings. Starhawk also came to the peace camp, led a spiral dance, and was arrested. Later Donna Haraway participated in a workshop of academics and activists in Clayoquot, which led to the book, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound (Magnusson and Shaw, 2003).

This paper revisits these controversial ecofeminist figures in the context of a now more widespread engagement with, variously, naturecultures, new materialisms, vibrant matter and anthropogenic climate change, to see what can be retrieved, recycled, upcycled from the practice of trashing ecofeminism.

"... but the visual orientation of the mind persists". Of Kellerites, body talk and golden gypsies, so far: a journey to the inspirational roots of situated knowledges

Author: Myriam Raboldt (KoMMa.G (TU Braunschweig)) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Donna Haraway not only draws inspiration from feminist but also from so-called mainstream science-fiction literature. How can reading those stories deepen our understandings of Haraway's concepts and inspire new ideas for integrating disability and gender studies into STS?

Long abstract

Haraway's widely-received text "Situated Knowledges" has a permanent place in the canon of feminist science (criticism). Less attention is paid to her sources of inspiration. In a footnote of "the persistence of vision", Haraway states that her thoughts were mainly influenced by two science-fiction stories by John Varley. In my presentation, I would like to focus on those widely neglected stories and look for the traces they left in the 'situated knowledges'. As I myself have been referring to Varley's stories and Haraway's re-writing of them in my own research about gender&prosthetics a lot, I believe that through this analysis not only a deeper understanding of Haraway's concepts can be gained, but that it might also inspire new ideas for doing research at the intersection of STS, gender and disability studies in general. Especially given the fact that Haraway not only gets inspired from contents that "need to be re-written" but also draws from science-fiction on a conceptional level, e.g. she calls for the dissolution of the dichotomy of fact and fiction when revealing that she reads scientific texts as science-fiction.

Once the view has been sharpened for links between Haraway's theories and science-fiction, one cannot help but notice those references all over her oeuvre. Together with the audience, I want to examine (or fabulate), why and how a dedicated feminist draws inspiration - not only, but also - from a literary source that is mainly known as the 'male-genre par excellence' and discuss the potential benefits of reading those sources ourselves.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.