Postphenomenology – Theory, methods, challenges

Information Studies, Aarhus University Denmark, September 22-26, 2014

Postphenomenology has in the last 10-15 years become a new, well-recognized qualitative stance toward studying human-technology relations. Postphenomenology has distanced itself from narrow ‘armchair’ philosophy to engage in close studies of actual interactions between human beings and technological devices and systems – without loosing sight of philosophical questions about human existence. Hence, Postphenomenology recognizes the legacy of phenomenology, but makes distance to particular viewpoints about human existence and about alienating influences of technology on human life.

Postphenomenology has furthermore engaged in specific encounters with proponents of the field of Science and Technnology Studies, STS. Postphenomenology offers unique insights and concepts to the field to understand human perception and actions and thier transformations through technological mediations. This engagement has not been met with similar enthusiasm by all STS parties, though. Specifically, the basic philosophical commitment to unique human qualities has raised criticism from within the STS community, not least from ANT. Furthermore, it has proved challenging to incorporate postphenomenology in one’s basic toolkit during field studies.

This course introduces central ideas and concepts in postphenomenology and addresses questions about methods and limitations. A number of key scholars in postphenomenology will take part in the course to convey central issues and discuss shortcomings and complications with participants, not least Professor Emiritus Don Ihde, USA, and Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek, The Netherlands. We invite Ph.D. students from the human and social sciences, and engineering science with a basic knowledge about (post)phenomenology and/or about STS and human-technology relationships.

The aim of the course:
The students will get a strong sense of the scope and strengths of postphenomenology. They will discuss how to design a postphenomenological study. Students will discuss various ways to enact postphenomenology in practice. They will have a unique chance to discuss their own theories and methodological issues with the founders of the position. Also, they will be better able to place postphenomenology on a theoretical and methodological map.

Issues to be explored:
What is Postphenomenology?
What is technological mediation?
How is Postphenomenology related to STS?
How to deal with human-technology relationships?
How to enact the stance and methods of postphenomenology?
Where and how has postphenomenology been used in practical situations?

The course language is English

Don Ihde
Peter-Paul Verbeek Cathrine Hasse Anders Albrechtslund Finn Olesen

Finn Olesen, Associate professor, PhD Department of Aesthetics and Communication – Information Studies – Aarhus University

Application requirements:
Please send a 2-page document that includes a) a description of your research project, b) your experience, comfort, and difficulties with your approach, whether or not it is within post-phenomenology, c) a brief explanation of why you are interested in post-phenomenology, and d) a brief paragraph about your background, interests, and other information you believe is relevant for the instructors and possibly other participants.

If accepted, you will be required to submit a longer form of your paper and complete other biographical information, as requested.

Send your application to:
Finn Olesen
Department of Aesthetics and Communication – Information Studies
Aarhus University
Helsingforsgade 14
DK-8200 Aarhus N

Application deadline:
August 15, 2014