TORBEN ELGAARD JENSEN

PROFESSOR WITH SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES

TANT RESEARCH GROUP LEADER

Phone: +45 9940 3394
E-mail: tej@learning.aau.dk

Why did you join the lab?

I am heading the Techno-Anthropology group in which the lab emerged. Right from the start, I sensed that developing a lab, and thinking about what a lab may be would be an extremely interesting activity for a research group. For a group grounded in social science and humanities (SSH), the idea of constructing something experimentally and collectively is particularly importantly. If we take a quick look at other professions around us it is evident that the impact of their knowledge is intimately related to the formats, products, and materials into which their knowledge is translated. Just think of medication, highway bridges, jail sentences, symphonies, or money transactions.  SSH has traditionally allied itself with the relatively weak medium of words, and the relatively weak position of being a distant critic. The promise of developing lab-based SSH research is the promise of engaging with a broader set of materials and media. We will never master pharmacological substances, money streams or concrete, but we may develop interesting new opportunities if we combine our words and our critical thinking with matters such as design games and digital tools.

 

What do you do at the lab?

I have participated in a datasprint on obesogenic environments and project on mapping the controversies related to AirBnB. I am a regular hang-around.

 

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

In 2012, I was hired to lead the Techno-Anthropology Research Group at the Department of Learning and Philosophy. So from that date onwards, I guess it became official. Before that I had a long background in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS), which I had worked with at KU (University of Copenhagen), CBS (Copenhagen Business School), DTU (Technical University of Denmark), and at academic visits to Lancaster University and Oxford University. I have worked with studies of laboratories, innovative organizations, markets, design processes, user-engagement and more. In my opinion, more or less everything empirically and theoretically within STS could be considered to techno-anthropological, so in that sense, I have been a techno-anthropologist since I wrote my master thesis in the last century. But the important thing is not how to demarcate the field of techno-anthropology. Quite the contrary, I like to believe the field of techno-anthropology is still open and emerging, and I am confirmed in this belief every year, when I see the creative and ambitious topics that the students are engaging with. So calling myself a techno-anthropologist, I am not saying that I know exactly what it is, but rather that I enjoy being a part of the discussion and following where colleagues, students, and collaborators are taking it.