Cultural Psychology and Anthropology of Knowledge



Many of our activities take place in the RUSTlab. For information please see:

Authors' workshop: Knowledge production, data infrastructures and planetary matter

23rd - 24th November 2023, Collaboration Space GB 8/129 at the Ruhr-University Bochum
How does scientific knowledge production through its engagement with data and data infrastructures come to have planetary effects? How does planetary matter through its transformation into data and data infrastructures contribute to shaping particular (new) modes of knowledge production? This is a follow-up workshop where we discuss contributions to a special issue in preparation.

Please find the poster for this workshop here.

Climate Change & Sustainability - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on a Sustainable Human-Environment Relationship

16th November 2023, 16 hrs., HGB 50 at the Ruhr-University Bochum
Stefan Laser will speak in the lecture series "Climate Change & Sustainability - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on a Sustainable Human-Environment Relationship" about e-waste and industrial responsibility (in German). This is an open course, click
here for more information (and to download all presentations).

New technologies, data infrastructures and their effects

10th-12th November 2023
In the seminar "Artificial intelligence: advantage or risk?", organised in cooperation with Ideenwerkstaat e.V. and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Willebadessen on 10-12 November, Leman Çelik will give a talk on "New technologies, data infrastructures and their effects" as part of the integration projects through educational activities.

Everyday scientific data practices and their planetary matter

4th October 2023, 15:15 hrs., Dietrich-Keuning-Haus, Dortmund
The environmental impacts of "Big Tech" and "Clouds" are well documented in the literature, but narratives about the entanglement of scientific data practices and the ecological environment through data infrastructures are lacking. Leman Celik and Estrid Sørensen have conducted interviews with scientists in data-intensive research fields that show an increased expansion of scientific data infrastructures. They present the results at
this year's conference of the German Society for Empirical Cultural Studies (DGEKW) and focus on the few but important moments of everyday scientific data practices that relate data infrastructures to energy consumption and hardware production.

RUSTlab Lectures Winter Term 2023/24

Winter term 2023/24, Ruhr-University Bochum and via Zoom
The programme for the 10th round of the RUSTlab Lecture series is now available. The lectures will take place on site and online. The guiding theme this semester is "Best Futures" and speakers include Nancy Mauro-Flude (RMIT University, Australia), Stefan Laser (Ruhr-University Bochum), Hannes Krämer and Dominik Gerst (University of Duisburg-Essen), René Tuma (TU Berlin) and Femke Snelting (The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest). Please find more information here. Everyone is most welcome!

Experiencing and situating data: Data walks as an explorative method of ethnographic research

September 2023
Katrin Amelang and Estrid Sørensen have contributed to an article on data walks as an explorative method of ethnographic research that has now been published in the current issue of Kulturanthropologische Notizen. The article examines the concept of data walking as a means of combining walking, observation, and data/knowledge production. It explores historical methods of walking in urban research, such as perceptual walk, strolling, and dérive, as well as their application in the era of digital mass data. The potential of data walks is analysed as both an explorative tool in ethnographic research and a means of understanding data production, experience, and its impact on social worlds. The article emphasizes the materiality and situatedness of data in everyday life, highlighting its generation and consequences. The contribution concludes with a basic recipe for a data walk, along with possible variations, and provides an example to illustrate the concept.

The article can be found here.

Trading, Choice and Agonistic-Antagonist. How Interdisciplinarity Shapes Paradigms of Cybersecurity

19th September 2023, Segovia University
Cybersecurity paradigms increasingly incorporate non-engineering disciplines. In response to efforts of including user needs and organizational adaptations, psychology, social sciences and anthropology are consulted. At the 2023 New Security Paradigm Workshop (NSPW) workshop, Estrid Sørensen and Laura Kocksch will present a paper that argues that paradigmatic commitments in interdisciplinary cybersecurity are not just influenced by new methods and concepts of adjacent fields, but also through shared interdisciplinary practices.

Based on our participation in an eight-year interdisciplinary cybersecurity PhD programme we analyse the programme’s interdisciplinary formats. Drawing on methods and literature of ethnographic science and technology studies (STS), we identified eight different interdisciplinary collaboration formats in the PhD programme and analyse how they combine different logics of accountability, innovation, and ontology in cybersecurity [3]. This leads to categorising three modes of interdisciplinarity of the PhD programme: 1. trading interdisciplinarity, 2. choice interdisciplinarity and 3. agonistic-antagonistic interdisciplinarity. These findings shape the foundation for a typology of interdisciplinary modes in cybersecurity. Based on the empirical findings the paper discusses how different modes of interdisciplinary shape paradigmatic commitments of cybersecurity, and it concludes with an emphasis to craft spaces that facilitate the agonistic-antagonistic mode of interdisciplinarity.

Welcome to Mace Ojala

15th September 2023
Mace Ojala holds a rare and very valuable combination of design skills as well as Media Studies and Science and Technology Studies expertise. After several years of teaching topics such as
Data Design, Advanced Empirical Methods and Theory of Science, and Analysis, Design and Regulation of IT Infrastructures at the IT-University in Copenhagen, Mace accepted a position at the RUB in 2022 to research the design of teaching practices in Media Studies. He holds a Masters Degree in Information Studies and Interactive Media from the University of Tampere. We are extremely happy to welcome Mace as a PhD scholar in the SFB 1567 "Virtual Lifeworlds". Over the coming three years he will be researching the PDF and writing about the format. He will join the CUPAK team as well as the RUSTlab. The latter will profit from Mace's experiences from the Copenhagen situated Ethos Lab. We warmly welcome you to the team, Mace, and look very much forward to collaborating.

WDR5 Interview: Müllentsorgung - "Infrastruktur reicht nicht aus"

4th September 2023
CUPAK was in the news, or rather, WDR5 invited Stefan Laser to speak about the sociology of waste, infrastructures, and unshared responsibilities. Listen to the piece by following this link: Müll-Entsorgung: "Infrastruktur reicht nicht aus" - WDR 5 Morgenecho Interview - WDR 5 - Podcasts und Audios - Mediathek.

Rescaling the planet through microchips

2nd September 2023
Stefan Laser attended the Science & Technology Studies conference in Taipei, Taiwan, which focused on “Rescaling the world.” His presentation discussed current research in the CRC 1567 on the global production network of data centres, with a particular look at the scales of microchips and how to map their planetary impact.

On becoming an infrastructure

1st September 2023, University of Basel
Fabian Pittroff will give a talk at the 2023 conference of the Swiss Association for the Studies of Science, Technology & Society (STS-CH). There, Fabian will report on the first year of doing research with and on the CRC 1567 Virtual Lifeworlds and the many opportunities and challenges of participatory and praxiographic intervention in such a collaborative research institution.

Standardisierung des Kontexts und Kontextualisierung des Standards: Die Übertragung von PISA auf PISA-D

August 2023
The book
Wissenschaft, Zahlen und Politik edited by M. J. Prutsch has now been published. It contains a chapter written by Estrid Sørensen, Brian Maddox and Radhika Gorur on the translation of the transnational educational assessment survey PISA to PiSA for development, or PISA-D. As a large international comparative study, PISA encounters the challenge to maintain its standards and at the same time adapt to the local diverse contexts. The chapter examines the practices involved in managing these seemingly contradictory tasks, namely through an empirical case study of the adaptation of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by the OECD in order to make it relevant for low-income countries in the form of PISA for Development (PISA-D). Situated knowledge, political decisions, socio-material practices, subjective interpretations and cultural perceptions are involved in managing the tension between standardisation and contextualisation. Local contexts are profoundly "recontextualised" to fit global practice, and conversely global practices must be adapted and compromises have to be found in order to accommodate standardisation both from a distance and in the here and now.

Investigating the sustainability-cybersecurity nexus in HCI as a practical problem

July 2023
In their newly published paper, Laura Kocksch and Estrid Sørensen investigate the entanglement of sustainability and cybersecurity based on ethnographic fieldwork. While there has been growing attention to sustainability in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) interventions and recommendations, it has mostly been directed outward, addressing policymakers, administrators or users. This paper explores sustainability as a practical problem, inviting the HCI community itself to the sustainability debate. It investigates how the design of technologies can be crafted in a more sustainable manner and, more profoundly, what sustainability is in the design, deployment and discarding of IT systems.
You can also find the paper on Estrid Sørensen's publication list now.

INF @ Digital Humanities Day #5

21st July 2023, Ruhr-University Bochum
For the fifth time, the Digital Humanities Day will take place at Ruhr University Bochum to bring together humanities scholars working on and with digital topics and tools. Fabian Pittroff will represent the subproject “Information Infrastructure: Technology und Praxeology” within the CRC 1567 Virtual Lifeworlds with a poster presentation. You can download the poster here:

Towards artful sustainable integration of IT Infrastructures

June 2023
In the Summer 2022 researchers, industry-representatives, politicians, public administration officials and activists met in the "Bits & Bäume" conference in Berlin to discuss how to shape digital transformation for a sustainable society. As a result of the three days of exchanges, a journal has now been published with articles from conference participants. Estrid Sørensen and Stefan Laser have contributed a text discussing the organisational challenges of sustainable IT infrastructures. The text is based on their ongoing research in the SFB 1567 "Virtual lifeworlds" in which they study the interrelation between data centres and planetary matter.
The journal can be found here.

Von distanzierten zu engagierten Daten

18th May 2023, 19 hrs., Klagenfurt University
In her key note lecture at the Austrian Society for Empirical Cultural Studies' 2023 conference Estrid Sørensen will suggest a genuinely qualitative take on data science.
We live in a time where the encounter of different practices, life concepts and epistemologies presents a central challenge. At the same time, the emerging field of data science provides new analyses that offer a larger overview and a broader insight into variables and parameters of the world. For an ethnographic sensibility that focuses on concrete and practical everyday life, Big Data analyses often appear as machines of distanced world relations. With a postcolonial perspective, digital data, data analyses and data visualisations can be embraced as a way to highlight different, other and speculative designs of heterogeneous practices, ways of life and epistemologies. As methodological tools, such designs are engaging, not distancing. The keynote outlines a sketch of an engaged and decolonialist data research as a theorising practice of empirical cultural studies.

The keynote will also be streamed online at 19 hrs. and can be joined via this link.

Interdisciplinary Workshop: “Discovery work” of Practical Action in Different Institutional Settings

10th - 11th May 2023, Collaboration Space GB 8/129 at the Ruhr-University Bochum
In this interdisciplinary workshop we will collectively explore the concept of "discovery work." Apart from a keynote by Michael Lynch and shorter talks pointing to specificities of discovery work in different fields, we will engage collectively in empirical analysis of video footage from the GDR intelligence service Stasi.
The workshop regards "discovery work" as a phenomenon and practice, which is shared across different
professional fields and settings, with the focus on the main questions: what characterizes the particular local and practical organization of discovery work across different professional practices? And how does discovery work vary across their different local and practical organization?

For more information on the programme and the aims of the workshop, please see the poster and this short introductory text.

KKC-Lecture by Olga Galanova: From Physical Abuse to Detention Facilities as Memorial Sites

19th April 2023, 16:15-18 hrs. Ruhr University Bochum (GD 1|156) and via Zoom
Olga Galanova will present her research in a lecture titled "From Physical Abuse to Detention Facilities as Memorial Sites: Media and Formats of Flashbulb Memories of Arrest in the GDR" (please note that the talk will be in German). The lecture is organised by the Hans Kilian and Lotte Köhler Centrum and will take place in room GD 1|156 at the Ruhr University Bochum and via Zoom.

On the basis of diverse data material, the lecture will examine communicative forms - both reconstructive genres and material objects - in which experiences of bodily harm during imprisonment in the GDR manifest themselves as memories. More information on the lecture and registration can be found here.

RUSTlab Lectures Summer Term 2023

Summer term 2023, Ruhr-University Bochum and via Zoom
The programme for the 9th episode in the RUSTlab Lecture series is now available. The lectures will take place on site and online. The guiding theme this semester is "Infrastructuring Indeterminacies" and Speakers include Julie Sascia Mewes (Ruhr University Bochum), Frauke Rohden (University of Oslo, CAIS Bochum), Phoebe Sengers (Cornell University), Laura Kocksch (TANTlab, Aalborg University Copenhagen), Andrey Korbut (Centre for Advanced Internet Studies, CAIS) and Lindsay Poirier (Smith College). Please find more information here. Everyone is most welcome!

Welcome to Katrin Amelang

1st April 2023
From April-September 2023 Katrin Amelang serves as the interim professor at the chair for cultural psychology and anthropology of knowledge. Katrin's research is located at the intersection of cultural anthropology and science and technology studies and currently focuses on algorithms, data, and software in and as culture. We warmly welcome Katrin and look very much forward to the collaboration.

Find previous news in the archive.