Dis/media Assemblages Surrounding the Care for Street Cats of Istanbul
EASST/4S Prague 2020 Virtual Meeting, 18-21 August 2020
Once with determined tasks with regards to the sustainable functioning of the city, street cats of Istanbul, are neither workers nor customers; they are unemployed and idle. The city is home to an estimated population of 125.000 street cats, living in close proximity to citizens in public spaces, in shared spaces such as apartment backyards, and in private spaces facing the public space such as windows of ground floors. Their life (and death) is covered repeatedly by the Turkish national media with the urge to protect these cats from weather conditions, sometimes through the examples of citizens who materialize the care by providing food, building shelters, etc. Parallel to the discourse on the national media, Istanbul’s citizens are carving more-than-human geographies in the city for a non-human animal population who has become vulnerable following the (re)shaping of the modern city. Based on the upcycling of waste, temporary assemblages of citizens providing care for street cats through water, food and shelter, populate the streets of Istanbul in districts such as Cihangir.
Informed by multispecies ethnography, this research is based on in-situ observations of materialized care for street cats of Istanbul by Istanbul’s citizens and content analysis of relevant news published on Turkish national media. Arguing against the ableist notion conceptualizing domesticated animals as weak due to their dependency, I adopt the feminist disability ethic-of-care approach after Taylor1 and open to debate the multispecies ways in which caring for domesticated (disabled) animals could occur in the city.
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Title: Frameworks of Agency and Dis/Media: The Significance of Current Digital Technologies and Dis-/Abling Media Practices
Organizers: Melike Şahinol, Robert Stock
Discussants: Michael Schillmeier, Vasilis Galis
Today, an ever rising number of assistive devices, mobile apps and algorithm-driven applications is populating our current crisis to address subjectivities across a wide variation of abilities. Encounters of digital media, assistive technologies, and people with disabilities increasingly shape contemporary practices. However, analyses regarding the relationships between daily practices, (sensory) experiences, digital media technologies as well as critical reflections of the concept of agency or the complexities of media participation are still in their infancy. Human and nonhuman entities, people, animals, technologies etc. shape, maintain, disrupt and change socio-technical assemblages through their relational becoming. Disability Studies1criticizes new technologies for frequently fertilizing a discourse about the “fix” of deficit bodies. These approaches often rely on the social model taking for granted a marginalized but autonomous (and empowered) subject. Studies connecting these two strands of research are still rare2 but have recently gained momentum in Crip Technoscience centering around the political significances of technology, (h)ac(k)tivism, and socio-material practices of disability world building. By engaging this approach, we aim to critically analyze specific socio-technical settings on a micro (local) and macro (cross-cultural) analytical level and contribute to a discussion that furthers an understanding of dis/-ability and dis/media practices3 of (non)human. The papers of this panel will address important challenges by questioning the ways in which the concepts of agency, disability and care of (non)humans are interrelated from (inter)disciplinary frameworks and thus contribute to discussions and STS approaches on dis/continuities re/shaping sociotechnical entanglements of dis/ability.
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