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Robin Boast

Capaciteitsgroep Mediastudies | University of Amsterdam
Presentation: "More than Mere Words: The Death of the Assemblage"

My research has emerged from long-standing attentions to the critical histories of technology and practice (Bruno Latour, Jussi Parikka and John Law in particular), post-colonial studies of contemporary institutional practices of exclusion and appropriation (James Clifford, Alan Liu, Robert Young and Steve Hemming), and the actual construction of systems that expose or subvert of such authorising protocols (Wendy Chun, Faye Ginsburg and Wolfgang Ernst). My recent work has focused on local knowledge and emergent systems between expert communities (Helen Verran, Geofrey Bowker, Susan L. Star and David Turnbull), primarily between academe, museums, archives and indigenous communities. Though this work has affinities with Latourian Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK), my work occupies an operational and intellectual landscape more in sympathy with Alan Liu and John Law, and pragmatically with Wendy Chun and Ramesh Srinivasan. This approach allows me to occupy a transdisciplinary research space between open source systems development, media archaeology, critical museum and archive studies, post-colonial studies, and the sociology of scientific knowledge. Thus my recent work has focused on studying and developing Web 2.0 and critical open source systems that break down the asymmetries that persist between the cultural institution and its key knowledge stakeholders. This has lead to my work with museums in the USA, in particular with the Museum in Zuni, New Mexico, using PuSH technologies to distribute knowledge resources into Native American communities for local use and empowerment, as well as my work with Flinders University, the University of Melbourne and the Ngarrindjeri Nation on Negotiating a Space in the Nation to create strategies for the governance of digital resources from scientific and cultural institutions to re-empower Ngarrindjeri control over their cultural patrimony and environment.