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"Shibboleths in the Studio: On Boundary Objects for Boundary-Work" with Dr. Owen Marshall

Please RSVP to receive the pre-circulated text for this Food For Thought with STS Postdoc Owen Marshall. Refreshments will be provided.
"Shibboleths in the Studio: On Boundary Objects for Boundary-Work"  with Dr. Owen Marshall

Dr. Owen Marshall

Nov 14, 2017
from 12:15 PM to 02:15 PM

STS Conference Room (SSH Bldg. #1246)

"Shibboleths in the Studio: On Boundary Objects for Boundary-Work"

Dr. Owen Marshall, Postdoc, UC Davis STS

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP using the google form. We will send a copy of the text a week before the event to those who register.

This is an STS Food For Thought event: as usual, we will pre-circulate a text which will be briefly introduced at the start of the session. The introduction will be followed by an hour or so of lively discussion about the text, so please come having read the paper in advance. Food and refreshments will be provided!

Abstract: The concepts "boundary object" and "boundary-work" have been widely used in science and technology studies. They have also been frequently conflated with one another despite their distinct meanings and genealogies. Drawing on an ethnography of recording and signal processing engineers, for whom questions of professional identity must be routinely negotiated, I develop the concept of the "shibboleth" as a complementary term that disentangles "-work" and "object" and re-articulates the relation between them. Shibboleths, I propose, are usefully understood as boundary objects for boundary-work: things and practices at the intersections of social worlds that serve to carve out new distinctions and deepen existing ones. Where boundary objects are marked by their flexibility and ability to facilitate "collaboration without consensus," shibboleths are brittle and - like Deleuze and Guattari's desiring machines - work by breaking-down. I specifically examine the role of symbolic and practical action in this mode of productive breaking, and the possible counterstrategies of repair it occasions.

Owen Marshall is a postdoctoral scholar in Science & Technology Studies at UC Davis, with a PhD in S&TS from Cornell University. He works at the intersection of sound studies, the sociology of technology, and the anthropology of the body. His NSF-supported dissertation, Tuning In Situ: Articulations of Voice, Affect, and Artifact in the Recording Studio, is an ethnography of vocal tuning work among LA-based recording engineers. Prior to his graduate studies, he worked with Chicago Public Radio, The Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes, and the Triple Helix Science and Society Review. He co-founded the long-running “Naked Noise” improvised music series in Ithaca, NY, and is currently organizing the Davis Infrastructural Listening Initiative’s “Music For Concrete” site-specific performance series in affiliation with the UCD ModLab.