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Metrics: How Things are Rendered Calculable


June 17-18


Prof. Sandra Bärnreuther, UNILU

Nicole Ahoya, UNILU


Prof. Sara L.M. Davis (Graduate Institute Geneva)

Prof. Cris Shore (Goldsmiths, University of London)


Technologies of measurement and calculation organize daily lives in powerful ways, be it collecting biometric data for identifying individuals at borders, generating data for setting healthcare priorities in global health policies, measuring social justice in corporate responsibility programs, or evaluating universities for global academic rankings. In this CUSO seminar, we critically engage with workings, promises, and effects of these prevalent technologies. We reflect on questions like: How, why, and by whom are metrics produced and used in specific contexts? What data do they generate? What political implications and unintended consequences do they have? And what kind of values and judgements do they embody and generate?


During the workshop, we engage with students' writings and talks by the invited speakers. We work in small groups to carve out the common rationalities of technologies of measurement and calculation and ask how we can engage with them anthropologically. We also reflect on how the discipline of anthropology has contributed to these processes.


Participants in the workshop are invited to present and discuss their research projects dealing with contexts that are shaped by technologies of measurement and calculation. For example, projects could raise questions about the ways in which bodies, health, economies, development, inequality, water, climate, or the future are rendered calculable, or not.

Additionally, we also welcome participants whose research does not explicitly focus on technologies of measurement and calculation but who are confronted with auditing, accountability procedures, and indicators or who work in professional settings with "experts" and "bureaucrats." The workshop provides a space for discussion on how we can navigate these (often) non-transparent, secretive, and managerial research settings.





Deadline for registration 15.05.2021
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