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Us and Them: Sociotechnologies of Alterity/Otherness

Thu, August 30, 9:00 to 10:30am, ICC, C2.3

Session Submission Type: Traditional (Closed) Panel


The prefix trans, observes Aihwa Ong, denotes “moving through space or across lines, as well as changing the nature of something” (Flexible Citizenship 1999, 4). Transformative research in STS and kindred fields has both deepened, and problematized, our understanding of borders and boundaries as lines mobilized in and through particular enactments of inside and outside, similarity and difference. This panel builds on the generative possibilities of STS scholarship to examine sociotechnical infrastructures that materialize delineations of difference within human and more than human worlds, as a way of elucidating both the changeable nature of things (individuals, collectives, institutions, polities) and the arrangements that hold them in place. A central concern is not only the spatialities but also the temporalities through which difference is made, including those between incorporation and alienation, us and them.

STS conceptions of multiplicity are a rich starting place for this project. In their reflection on the performative effects of categorization, feminist economists J. K. Gibson-Graham observe that “If there is no singular figure, there can be no singular other” (1996, 15). Articulating the multiplicity of figures, not only in terms of differences between but also those within a category, is a step towards loosening the grip of injurious orderings. The papers in this session engage the session theme across a multiplicity of sites, including temporal un/doings of planetary politics, language and representation in governance, technologies of registration and border-making, counter imaginaries and practices of future making, and material semiotics of Othering in technologies of military training.

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