Flowers of Fire: Illustrations from Japanese Fireworks Catalogues (ca. 1880s), Yokohama City Central Library, via Public Domain Review

Biiiiig week, people! We’ll start to develop a conceptual vocabulary for our semester’s exploration. Rather than establishing fixed definitions, we want to consider how these concepts exist in scalar, spatial, and temporal relationships with each other, and how those relationships depend on context. And speaking of context!: We’ll take an ambitious tour — via an edited collection of short case studies — of the types of spaces, systems, and technologies we’ll be examining throughout the semester. What artifacts do we encounter? What infrastructures? What roles do machines play in the various landscapes featured in this collection? How do humans interact with them? What roles do people play in such purportedly “post-anthropocenic” terrains? How might anthropology help us understand this world?

Lab: We’ll get into small groups to map some data assemblages.

To be reviewed for today’s class:

  • DATA: Rob Kitchin, “Conceptualizing Data” in Data Revolution: Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures & Their Consequences (Sage, 2014): 1-26 [if you’re pressed for time, focus on 1-9, 21-26].
    • Recommended: If you’re interested in the cultural history and ideologies of data: Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein, “Introduction: Why Data Science Needs Feminism” in Data Feminism (MIT Press, forthcoming 2020): 1-19 [the book’s not out yet, so please don’t circulate 😉!].
  • ARTIFACTS: Langdon Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?Daedalus 109:1 (1980): 121-36 [you’re welcome to stop at 128; consider how we might adapt Winner for a world in which many “objects” are digital, and even analog artifacts are often data-driven].
  • INFRASTRUCTURES: Shannon Mattern, “Scaffolding, Hard and Soft: Critical and Generative Infrastructures,” in Jentery Sayers, ed., The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities (Routledge, 2018) [reprinted in Spheres].
  • APPLICATION: Skim Liam Young, ed., Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post-Anthropocene, Architectural Design 89 (2019): we want to have some common ground for our concept-mapping exercise this week, so please pay particular attention to those chapters that home in on data centers — Gerrard, Koolhaas, Burrington, Liu.
  • Please sign up for your Artifact Analysis presentation (you must be logged in through your NewSchool account).

Liam Young, Where the City Can’t See

Supplemental Resources:

  • Our discussions this semester will ideally draw on research and practice from a wide range of fields — from anthropology, archaeology, and material culture studies to landscape studies (which intersects with anthropology, art history, architectural history, etc.), architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning, to design studies writ large (encompassing product, digital, interaction, software, graphic design, etc.), media studies, critical data / algorithm studies, and STS.
  • DATA:
    • * Elizabeth Churchill, “The Ethnographic Lens: Perspectives and Opportunities for New Data Dialects,” EPIC (September 17, 2017).
    • Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Meijias, “Data Colonialism: Rethinking Big Data’s Relation to the Contemporary Subject,” Television & New Media (2018).
    • Angela Daly, S. Kate Devitt, and Monique Mann, eds., Good Data (Institute of Network Cultures, 2019).
    • Catherine D’Ignazio and Laure Klein, Data Feminism (MIT Press, forthcoming 2020).
    • Lisa Gitelman, ed., Raw Data Is an Oxymoron (MIT Press, 2013).
    • Yanni Loukissas, All Data Are Local: Thinking Critically in a Data-Driven Society (MIT Press, 2019).
    • Daniel Miller, “Digital Anthropology,” Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology (August 2018).
    • Penny Harvey, Eleanor Conlin Casella, Gillian Evans, Hannah Knox, Chrstine McLean, Elizabeth B. Silva, Nicholas Thoburn, and Kath Woodward, Objects and Materials (Routledge, 2015).
    • Celia Lury, “Interfaces: The Mediation of Things and the Distribution of Behaviors,” in Penny Harvey, Eleanor Conlin Casella, Gillian Evans, Hannah Knox, Christine McLean, Elizabeth B. Silva, Nicholas Thoburn, and Kath Woodward, eds., Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion, 1st ed. (Routledge, 2013): 272 – 281.
    • Hannah Appel, Nikhil Anand, and Akhil Gupta, “Introduction: Temporality, Politics, and the Promise of Infrastructure,” in Nikhil Anand, Akhil Gupta, and Hannah Appel, eds., The Promise of Infrastructure (Duke University Press, 2018): 1-38.
    • Ashley Carse, “Keyword: Infrastructure” in Penny Harvey, Casper Bruun Jensen, and Atsuro Morita, eds., Infrastructures and Social Complexity: A Companion (Routledge, 2016): 27-39.
    • Kregg Hetherington, “Introduction: Keywords of the Anthropocene,” in Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene (Duke University Press, 2019): 1-13.
    • Brian Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure,” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (2013): 327-43.
    • Lisa Parks, “Stuff You Can Kick: Toward a Theory of Media Infrastructures,” in Patrik Svensson and David Theo Goldberg, eds., Between Humanities and the Digital (MIT Press, 2015): 355-74.
    • Jean-Christophe Plantin, Carl Lagoze, Paul N. Edwards, and Christian Sandvig, “Infrastructure Studies Meets Platform Studies in the Age of Facebook,” New Media & Society 20:1 (2016): 293-310.
    • Susan Leigh Star, “The Ethnography of Infrastructure,” American Behavioral Scientist 43:3 (1999): 377-91.
    • Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” in Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (University of Minnesota Press, 1996): 27-47.
    • Design Anthropology: Landscapes and Cities,” Radcliffe Institute, April 3-4, 2017.
    • Stephen D. N. Graham, “Software-Sorted Geographies,” Progress in Human Geography 29:5 (2005): 562-80.
    • Eric Hirsch and Michael O’Hanlon, eds., The Anthropology of Landscape: Perspectives on Place and Space (Clarendon Press, 1995).
    • John Stilgoe, What Is Landscape? (MIT Press, 2015).
    • Christopher Tilley, Interpreting Landscapes: Geologies, Topographies, Identities (Routledge, 2017).
    • Christopher Tilley, A Phenomenology of Landscape: Places, Paths, and Monuments (Berg, 1997).
    • * Christopher Tilley and Kate Cameron-Daum, An Anthropology of Landscape: The Extraordinary in the Ordinary (UCL Press, 2017): esp. 1-13!


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