Anders Kristian Munk

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

THE TANT-LAB DIRECTOR

Phone: +45 99407474
E-mail: akm@learning.aau.dk

Last modified: 28.06.2016

Why did you join the lab?

I spend time with the lab because, in today’s academic world, both students and researchers need a space to be playful and take risks. We try out tons of things here that may never work. Our student collaborators are neither graded nor do they earn ECTS credit. They are here for the experience and participate because they want to learn. Our external partners – public as well as private – are not promised off-the-shelf solutions or deliverables. They get on board because they know that the problems they face require experimentation. For me, that adds up to an interesting work environment.

 

What do you do at the lab?

I like to use the lab to organize data-sprints. Since I am interested in digital methods, I need a place where I can bring together people with interesting research questions, people with a good grasp of datasets and methods, and people with the technical ability to operationalize whatever ideas emerge from that meeting. I am also the ‘lab-director’, which effectively means that I work with our student assistant to facilitate daily life at the lab. All our researchers and student collaborators are their own bosses, however, and essentially do what they want. It is very much a coalition of the willing where the people who want to take the lead get to decide the agenda. My role is to support that.

 

How did you get to call yourself a techno-anthropologist?

When I was 20 I decided to study European Ethnology because I was fascinated by the deep-seated cultural differences that still riddle the European continent. I had no interest what so ever in technology. By the time I got my masters degree, however, I felt convinced that culture was impossible to separate from its material circumstances. I had written my thesis on the notion of terroir in the French wine industry, a field where geology, sociology and technology are almost inseparable from one another. I went on to write a PhD on flood risk management at the University of Oxford and decided that to do field work with insurance professionals I needed to become a flood modeler myself. So I took courses, studied hydrology, and became certified on one of the computer models they used. By that time I would have called myself a techno-anthropologist if I had known the term existed. Today I have the added dimension of being interested in data-intensive methods for the social sciences, particularly in controversy mapping, and that feels quite techno-anthropological indeed. My objects of study are techno-scientific controversies and the methods I play with simultaneously require technical know-how and a constant grounding in ethnographic and other qualitative sensibilities.