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DECOLONISING
IMAGINATION
Research School by DOXA Journal
February 3-7, 2019
Applications deadline: 23.12
Moscow Region,
Voronovo,
HSE Learning Centre
Decolonising Imagination (DI) is an international research school, organized by student journal DOXA (and INCO*) with the support of Higher School of Economics and Oxford Russia Fund.
School is going to take place in learning centre of HSE in Moscow region. During 4 days (3-7 February) participants of the school are going to work in small groups (4-8 people) on research projects, the results of which are going to be presented on the last day of the school.

*INCO (Intimate Connections Research Centre, founded in 2016) is a cyberfeminist Network that is developing fictional software coded as II (Intimate Interface).
We have all been colonized by those origin myths, with their longing for fulfilment in apocalypse. The phallogocentric origin stories most crucial for feminist cyborgs are built into the literal technologies - technologies that write the world, biotechnology and microelectronics - that have recently textualized our bodies as code problems on the grid of C3I. Feminist cyborg stories have the task of recoding communication and intelligence to subvert command and control.
Donna Haraway
Topics of the School
Imagination is in the research focus of contemporary philosophy, social sciences and humanities, as well as varios transdisciplinary fields. Contemporary political theoreticians and activists speak about utilizing the resources of imaginations in order to think about an escape from current political and economic system, researchers in Science and Technology Studies investigate sociotechnical imaginaries, postcolonial researchers and activists are asking whether the whole project of decolonization makes any political sense. However the discussion about decolonization goes way beyond anthropology and postcolonial theory: programmers and tech designers are trying to develop more decentralized and egalitarian technological projects, whereas sci-fi narratives, as it seems, infiltrate our life more and more, becoming a contemporary kind of 'popular metaphysics'.

On DI school about a dozen of research groups are going to work on different theoretical and practical projects, devoted to questions about political potential of imagination, de-colonial and postcolonial approaches in philosophy and social sciences and decolonization of technologies and sci-fi narratives.
Research groups
1. Decolonising technologies and post-Soviet (ethno)futurisms
A. Decolonising Space Techno-Science
Participants: Denis Sivkov, Oleg Blinov, Eugene Kuchinov
Working language: Russian

Space exploration is still defined by the variety of historical monopolies and inequalities: state monopoly on launch of space ships and production of certain components, monopoly on the development of space exploration programs by "space nations' (Russia, USA, China), and also a monopoly of 'hard sciences' to produce knowledge and vision of space and space exploration. The group is going to be devoted to searching ways of decolonizing space techno-science. We will attempt to see the potential of techno-anarchist utopias of the beginning of 20th century, in which the concept of non-state space travel is developed, and also the narratives of early attempts in space exploration, when it was a private matter of engineers in cellars and garages, as well as contemporary project of non-professional and non-commercial space exploration.
B. Sci-fi and the Visions of the Future
Participants: Artyom Zubov, Peter Frase
Working languages: Russian, English

Despite the common assumption, future is not an open space of free imagination. Ways of imagining the future are limited by the past and the present - dominant ideologies, current social problems, fears and hopes, commercial and marketing expectations. Science fiction as a genre, as a market category, spreads its' hegemony to popular forms of thinking about future. The images of future produced by popular sci-fi narratives, appear as reference points for evaluating our place in the line of progress. But can we imagine future beyond those limits? Are other ways of imagination possible? Can the performative aspect of sci-fi narratives be used to construct alternative images of contemporary society? During our working group we are going to analyze specific examples of sci-fi writing: mainly the texts without wide commercial success but involving readers in intellectual games and thought experiments. During the discussions we are going to pay special attention to the language - how it influences the perceiving mind.
C. Error-friendly algorithmically curated networks
Participants: group eeefff (Dina Zhuk, Nicolai Spesivtsev)
Working languages: Russian, English

Practical group of juxtaposing a ready-to-trauma logic – borrowed from cybernetics with its positive and constituent role for error, pathology, catastrophe – and the notion of "effective computability" that dominates now in algorithmic-aided systems.

The focus of the working group will be on different types of joints between algo-based entities and (non)human bodies as well as those energies that make those joints go-through-time.

The goal of three workshop days is speculative constructing of algorithmically curated network topologies based on marginal cybernetic projects and what the group eeefff calls "holed futurism" that glues imaginations with the materiality of cultural machines.
TBA
D. Working group on imagination of bureaucrats and workers of technological companies

E. Working group on musical ethnofuturisms in post-Soviet context
2. Anthropology with(out) Borders
А. Anthropology of Time and Labour
Participants: Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov, Olga Pinchuk
Working languages: Russian, English

How does contemporary production of consumption products look like? Who does work in factories? How machines and humans interact in the process of production? The technological upheaval may have influenced our perception of contemporary production processes: many of us think that an army of robots and automats can manage all the work with minimal input by people. But it is not always the case with production in Russia (and not only Russia). Workers in the factories are subordinated to the crude rhythm of production; work conditions and regimens structure their lives - becoming the dominant, forming relations, opinions, views and choices. We will look on the production from the worker's view and through a prism of temporality - we will make an attempt to understand how time is experiences through labor (using empirical and theoretical material), and will work on the project of ethnographic research of contemporary labor.
B. Who lives in forest? 🌲💾🎾
Participants: Natalia Tyshkevich, Eugene Kuchinov, Tim Ingold, Rick Dolphin, Ilya Dolgov
Working languages: Russian, English

Oftentimes, the positivist approach reduces the complexity of living systems, isolating the object of study from its context. Normally complex and convoluted ecosystems are thus reduced to (naked) facts and figures for the sake of an experiment. Anthropology as a science has recently realized the fruitlessness of the work of a traditional ethnographer, who, in his detachment, has become indistinguishable from an entomologist, only ever relating to his objects of study by putting a needle through them and adding them to liveless collection of dead bugs. So what makes our school different from the murderous business of traditional anthropocentric ecology? Our approach is based on the idea of multinaturalism instead of multiculturalism (Eduardo Kohn, Anna Tsing). In our practice, we encourage going out into the field and engaging with the nature we encounter, rather than passively observe it from the purely scientific perspective. The goal of our trip will be to compile an array of reflections, the emotions that the nature invokes with us, and collectively come up with a feedback in the format that you deem most appropriate – whether it be an art performance, a poem, or a painting.

In parallel the working group "🌲💾🎾" will be engaged at once in several plots from modern ecology, from the philosophy of slime molds up to ... *

* [footprints in the snow]
C. Ingame Anthropology Lab
Participants: IBORG team (Fedya Balashov, Yulya Kozhemyako, Rita Skomorokh)
Working languages: Russian, English

The art group IBORG's project is a virtualisation of participants' experience by producing an art-game – audiovisual digital installation on the verge between contemporary art and video games. While game studies 'colonise' video games, imposing external interpretations on them, the game developed in this project is going to have an actual dialogue with science, allowing everyone to participate in the process of its' design - and with unpredictable results.

IBORG's ideology is based on the concept of 'wobbling', which indicates the uncertainty of the future lying ahead of video games. The participants of the group – Fedya Balashov, Yulya Kozhemyako, and Rita Skomorokh – avoid both replicating and criticising the conventional ways of 'assembling' the gameplay. Their aim is to cultivate the medium of the game as something with an independent aesthetic value and discover new approaches to structuring the gamers' experience.

3D modellers are invited to participate.
NEW! D. Decolonizing the Post-Socialist: Urban Narratives and Collective Representations
Participants: Nikita Petrov, Michal Murawski, Irina Dushakova, Nataliya Volkova
Working languages: Russian, English

Significant transformations of urban space to a certain extent determine the face of a city: the construction of skyscrapers ruptures its silhouette, the expansion of the metro network blurs its boundaries, and the programs for transforming residential areas change citizens' daily life rhythm. The social infrastructure of the post-socialist city is not united anymore: it has been destroyed or privatized, forced out by hybrid spaces of commerce, entertainment and glamour — «cultural parks» (according to M. Yampolsky, 2018), such as, for example, Zaryadye Park today.

Yet the space of a city is constructed not only by objective physical parameters, but also by the narratives with which it is associated. Structural and content analysis of elements in texts about the city, the variety of individual ideas (about objects and practices associated with them) and group ideas (about the boundaries and history of the city) will be the basis for re-assemblage of the urban space, as well as the basis for research on the foundations of the new urban aesthetics. In this track we will try to elaborate other strategies for working with changes in urban space, based on analysis of discourses about the city.
3. Cyberfeminist and Materialist Strategies of Writing
A. Weaving wor(l)ds
Participants: Lika Kareva, Virginia Barratt
Working languages: Russian, English

The group will be practicing materialist experimental writing. During four days of chatter, natter, work and play we will focus on showing by weaving words that writing is a materialist, but at the same time fictional practice of fabricating textual items of thought and experience. Cyberfeminist writing, which would be central to our group, we see as a contradictory and therefore intensive way of writing. The work of Luce Irigaray and Sadie Plant connects cyberfeminism through wires and networks with material practice of weaving. At the same time cyberfeminism also works on abstract level, activating imaginary fields with Donna Haraway's cyborg metaphor. We will try to maintain that tension in our practice. On the last day we will present a piece of textual fabric and a brief methodology how words can make wor(l)ds.

We ask people who are involved in writing practice (poetry, extro-science fiction, feminist philosophy, experimental formats) to join our group.
B. Feminist Genealogy of New Materialisms
Participants: Lolita Agamalova, Alla Mitrofanova, Jozhi Stolet, Alexandra Abakshina
Working language: Russian

We see new non-stable ontologies and new materialism precisely as heiresses of feminist epistemology, that has developed from the 70s and 80s. Also, we are noticing that complexity in conceiving matter/materiality often disappears when we suppress the tradition of feminist thought from the discourse, which leads to depolitization and moralism in the form of amoralism. Studying new materialism in connection to its feminist genealogy (Karen Barad, Rosi Braidotti) allows us to avoid depolitization and to maintain its sensuality, social heterogeneity and technical finesse with working with material problems of the matter.

The result of the work will be presented in an intraactive form of collective spectacle-dance-text.
TBA
C. Working group on theory of models
How to take part in the school?
In the application for participation tell us about your research work, why you want to participate in our school and in which working group you want to participate.

Each participant chooses two groups in which s/he would like to participate. According to the results of the evaluation of motivation letters, the participants will be divided into groups. During the first week after the announcement, we will update the list of groups, so keep your eye on it!

Deadline for all applications: 23.12
Publication of results: first week of January
The terms of participation:
Accommodation and transfer from Moscow to the learning centre is provided for all the participants of the school.

Organisers of the school also provide help with Russian visa.
Participants:
Tim Ingold – anthropologist, practicing ecological approaches in anthropology
Peter Frase – sociologist, writer at Jacobin
Patricia Reed – artist, writer, independent philosopher of diagrams and a participant of Laboria Cuboniks working group
Nikolay Ssorin-Chaikov – anthropologist, author of monograph «State Social Life in Siberian North» and the book "Two Lenins"
Olga Pinchuk – anthropologist, practicing field researches on material of Russian industrial enterprises
Lolita Agamalova – philosopher, writer
Jozhi Stolet – cyberfeminist, organisator of New Philosophy Grammar and Methodology seminar in Saint-Petersbourg, Intimate Interfaces researcher in INCO
Alexandra Abakshina - stage director, co-founder of project theatre maailmanloppu



Lika Kareva – cyberfeminist, writer, worker at Intimate Connections Research Centre (INCO)
Natalia Tyshkevich – culture historian, philosopher, flickering researcher
Armen Aramyan – philosopher
Alla Mitrofanova – philosopher, researcher of non-stable ontologies, cyberfeminist
Denis Sivkov – philosopher and sociologist of technology
Eugene Kuchinov – philosopher of technology and imagination
Oleg Blinov – cosmonaut
Ilya Dolgov – artist, editor of Forest Magazine
Artem Zubov – philologist, science-fiction researcher
Group «eeefff» (Minsk-Moscow) Dzina Zhuk and Nicholas Spesivtsev
IBORG (Insomniac Bears Of Russian Gamedev) - Fedya Balashov, Julia Kozhemyako, Rita Skomoroh – indie game developers
Organizers and Partners
E-mail: aaaresearchgroup@gmail.com (Nastya)
Armen: work.aramyan@gmail.com / @salmonjuly (telegram)
Natasha: @tsh_tsh (telegram)
Lika: @D4110 (telegram)