HASTS’s Mobile Seminar, 1st ed. (last week) was a lot of fun — at least that’s what the participants said — and it sounds like it’s something we’d like to do again soon. Stay tuned about a possible Denver edition in November, for those of you who will be going to AAA and 4S, and, weather-allowing, another in December.
How it worked: we walked from the department, across the Mass Ave bridge, along the Esplanade, and back, over about an hour and a half. We partnered up for 40 minutes at a time, with the conversation focusing on each person for 20 minutes, and we switched partners once. For the first partnering, ‘Power’ was the starting subject for conversation — the idea being to reflect on how power comes to bear on your research, in whatever manifestation: thematically, materially, methodologically, etc. We considered themes of institutional, symbolic, and technoscientific power or violence in our projects, as well as issues of privilege, power dynamics, and access in our fieldwork and archival processes. And for the second pairing, we each shared an issue we were struggling or grappling with in our research.
We agreed that it was really valuable to cultivate a space like this, where we could openly talk about our project without the pressures of being perfect and get feedback from a range of peers. We had some ideas about other ways of structuring the time or other topics to jump start conversation in future Mobile Seminars:
- Using what might be construed as ‘improbable’ starting points for reflecting on our work — things that don’t necessarily feel like they apply to your work (e.g. a youtube video, sci fi story, other forms of fiction texts or film)
- Reflecting on and sharing about different practices that we find useful for thinking about our work (whether our practice as budding academics or researchers, or our research topic)
- Possible themes for future seminars: fear; vice; guilt; privilege; friendship & enmity; alliance & collaboration; intimacy & distance; reflecting on how you bring your various selves into your practice as a would-be anthropologist/historian
- Reflecting on STS more broadly than as just relates to our projects
The HASTS Mobile Seminar is inspired by the University of Amsterdam’s STS “Walking Seminar” led by Annemarie Mol; read more about that at their blog. We look forward to making these a regular occurrence in HASTS! Thanks to all those who joined us, and to Mitali for co-organizing!