Life of Things Project: Piloting antidisciplinary co-creation of knowledge and care

Alexandra Endaltseva, L'École des hautes études en sciences sociales / Linköping University; Yannick Michaud. Nuit(s) Blanche(s) film director

Sydney 2018: Situated Knowledges

Life of things Project is a collaborative, antidisciplinary, and performative intervention, introducing a multi-stakeholder reflection on the topic of interaction between people, things, and disability in Russia. It is a pilot attempt to interpret thinking-with (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012), which I aim to enrich by thinking with 4S participants, who get in touch with the diverse products of what for me was a collaborative event ethnography.
The project is assembled with multiple stakeholders (from Russian medical anthropologists to artists, from chronically ill to biohackers) in the following logic:

  • Choice of one category that emerged from my ethnographic research within a community of chronically ill;
  • Translation of academic data and theoretical base into the language of local concerns;
  • Launch of the social media challenge with a description of social problem and with an invitation to share photographs of things that enable or disable, accompanied by a story of their relationships;
  • Negotiating with city stakeholders (negotiating the space for exhibition and public program, discounts on printing the photos for a social project, making installation, inviting the public, marketing, etc.);
  • Hosting two public debates in ZIL cultural center in Moscow: a roundtable Life of Things (with disability activists, charity funds, biohackers, assistive technology developers, urban planners, etc.), and a storytelling marathon about being disabled in Russia (with people with visual impairments, medical anthropologists in the area of disability, city volunteers, chronically ill, etc.);
  • Introducing data online (text, photo-video) in Russian for local feedback, but also welcoming international collaborations for co-reflection and co-development