By Andreas Birkbak, PhD fellow at University of Aalborg CPH and CSISP visiting fellow.
As a part of my PhD work on digital publics, I am spending the summer term at Goldsmiths in London. More specifically, I am a visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP), Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London. Lots of fancy names, but what goes on here? Here are three brief examples.
Last week, I was at an all-day workshop on ’doing screen work ethnographies’ together with a group of highly interesting researchers, including Lucy Suchman, Adrian Mackenzie, Anne Beaulieu, Daniel Neyland and Christine Hine. The reason why these people (and more) came together at Goldsmiths is Evelyn Rupperts’ new ERC-funded project on work done with statistics in Europe. It is called ”Peopling Europe: How data make a people”, or ARITHMUS for short. There is a bit more about it here, but the work is just starting now. Last week’s meeting was the first out of six methods workshops that will be organized over the coming years as part of the project, and this one started with the extremely relevant challenge of how to ethnographic research in settings that are heavily mediated by screens. A question that is key, I think, also for how to do good techno-anthropological research.
This week, I was at another interesting event, but as a speaker rather than a workshop participant. On June 9th, Goldsmiths hosted a seminar on ”Experiments with Data Publics”, which featured myself talking about my on-going research on Facebook pages and sociotechnical controversies, but started with the work of Anders Koed Madsen, University of Aalborg CPH, and Anders Kristian Munk, University of Aalborg CPH & SciencesPo médialab, on using Facebook for collectively envisioning the future of schooling in Aalborg, Denmark. There is a bit more about the event on June 9th here and Anders Koed Madsen and Anders Kristian Munk have written about their project previously on the TANT-Lab website here.
As a third example of what I am up to in London, let me give you an idea of my day to day work. I am in the final year of my PhD, which means trying ’to write up’ my work into a thesis. Here at Goldsmiths, I receive supervision from Noortje Marres, the director of CSISP, on this writing work. She is a very relevant person for me to work with, since her own research interests overlap a lot with my own. These topics include publics, STS and digital methods. So far, I have had two very productive meetings with Marres, and I have been assigned a desk in a room on the CSISP floor, so I get to be a part of the everyday of her research group for a while. You can read more about Noortje Marres here.
In closing, perhaps I should mention that I am able to afford this stay in London because I was lucky to be awarded one of the 2014 EliteForsk travel stipends for PhD researchers. You can read a bit more about that and my project (in Danish) here.