24hrs of Philosophy of the City

Have you ever attended a 24 hours long conference? One of the perks of the current tragic crisis is that this is now possible (I call it a perk because I love conferences; you might think it’s a curse). I have just attended a 24hrs conference on philosophy of the city. It was kicked off by our colleagues in Japan and closed by our friends in the Americas. My own presentation was on transcultural perspectives on the city and the wild, with a focus on Indian cities.

Conference and Video: The City and the Wild

I was extremely fortunate to have been able to take part in the Human-Technology Relations conference last weekend. What was most mind-blowing was the keynote lecture given by Prof. Ashley Shew (Virginia Tech). She talked about human-technology relations from the perspective of a technologically enabled disabled person (Prof. Shew’s lower leg has been amputated and she relies on wheelchairs and prosthetics). She dispels many of the common myths around disabled people such as that they spend all their time wishing they could be cured or enabled to walk again – an assumption Shew calls ableism, or that all disabled people should play along in the narrative of being an inspiration for perseverance and high achievement for the non-disabled.

Shew identifies as a cyborg. She draws attention to the fact that it is precisely the disabled who have immense experience with the interface between the human and the technologicized, since they deal with it in almost every moment of their life. Ironically, their perspective is almost never included in these discussions!

My contribution was on the way the city as a technology mediates to the wild. Both notions of the city (as the locus of the civilised) and the wild are historically shifting and constructed with various ends in mind and therefore require careful reflection. A video of my presentation is available here.