[Air-l] CFP: Towards Humane Technologies: Biotechnology, New Media, and Citizenship
phil.graham at mailbox.uq.edu.au
Sun Mar 10 03:39:30 PST 2002
1,500-8,000 word papers are invited for the following forum.
Towards Humane Technologies: Biotechnology, New Media, and Citizenship
Conference website http://www.uq.edu.au/gsm/biomediaindex.html
You are invited to participate in Towards Humane Technologies, a unique
international forum for discussion about the social, moral, and political
implications of biotechnology research and commercialisation. The
conference will be presented in an alternative format that foregrounds
democratic participation rather than one way speeches from a select few.
The conference will be held at The University of Queensland's Ipswich
campus, 15-17 July 2002.
In the widespread debates about the future of biotechnology, many people
feel that institutional and expert voices often overpower those of people
who are personally and immediately affected by current technological
developments, or the lack thereof. Such people include, for example, people
with disabilities; people conceived through reproductive technologies;
people who use reproductive technologies to conceive; farmers and graziers;
scientists at the coal-face; government project and policy officers who
promote and regulate the bioindustries; and community members who feel they
have much to contribute to the debate yet feel they have no way to
influence our technological direction.
Yet in today's mass mediated arena we all have almost daily experiences of
the widespread excitement and concern about new technologies and media
forms, especially biotechnologies. It seems that the potentials for our new
technologies are boundless, regardless of whichever attitude one takes
towards them. Often they appear as inevitable, ubiquitous,
agent-likealmost human. Too often, though, the human-ness of our new
technologies gets ignored as we stand in thrall of their potentials, and
New media are always dependent on older media. Biotechnology is dependent
on any number of media for its public propagation, acceptance, or
rejection. These include, but are not limited to, ICT, mass media, and
institutional media (the institutions of law, policy, and various other
organs of public opinion). A "new media" perspective on biotechnology
provides a more holistic way to understand the current issues surrounding
the emergence of biotechnology and its attendant possibilities.
In effect, a new media perspective allows us to map out and comprehend the
extent to which developments in a field such as biotechnology can and do
affect our lives, the lives of other species, and the world we live in.
Citizenship is the process of engagement in such issues which is
fundamental to healthy liberal democracies. It is in the spirit of
citizenship that we take a new media perspective on biotechnological advances.
Media in all forms are the means by which we move meanings and ideas from
one context to another, across time and space. As such, an emergence of new
media forms is always historically significant. Such emergences create
possibilities for new forms of human relatedness; new ways of understanding
what it means to be human; access to new meaning systems, new cultures, new
beliefs, and new knowledges. So at least in a limited sense, we can also
see biotechnologies and their associated practices as mediating
practicesas biomedia. Biomedia provide new perspectives on what it means
to be human, to be healthy, or even to be living; they move fundamental
aspects of life from hitherto "secret" places into the realm of public
space and commercial manipulation; they open possibilities for new
knowledge about life; and they present new challenges to human
understanding about what it means to be human and humane.
Towards humane technologies is a forum for creating new understandings
about these directions in our society. We want to ask important questions
about what kinds of meanings are made and moved because of biotechnologies;
about who gets to make the meanings that count; and about creating a forum
for making meaningful contributions to the direction of our technological
processes. That is something that cannot be done in isolation or ignorance.
We invite you to join us in approaching biotechnology research and
commercialisation as a challenge of citizenship in a new media environment.
Opinions expressed in this email are my own unless otherwise stated.
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UQ Business School
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