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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/bak0-9m86

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Anticipating Usable Assistants: An Ethnography of UX Researchers




Anticipation is ubiquitous, and yet anticipation itself tends to be an under-theorized and rarely thematized aspect of social life (Stephan and Flaherty 2019). This is nowhere truer than with respect to the intersubjective, interpersonal, and interactive aspects of anticipation. Far from being an invariant structure of subjectivity, anticipation takes on markedly different forms depending upon the interpersonal relations within which it unfolds. Positioning anticipation as a culturally and contextually variable means of relating to and affecting others, these papers each think through how anticipation is social and intersubjective in one or more of three forms: instances in which the anticipatory object is another person's (or people's) acts and experiences; cases where anticipation is a joint activity; and relationships in which one or more persons are making an effort to anticipate on behalf of others. Each of the panelists focuses on a particular ethnographic scene of anticipatory effort, engaging with the specific social understandings of or collaborations with particular others at play in the anticipatory processes involved -- including ethical and emotional labor in interaction, imaginative perspective-taking, care for others through planning and preparedness, and efforts to create systems and institutions that will withstand present threats and provide for future needs. The goal of this panel is to think through how anticipating others becomes focal through these contexts to engage with the questions, What forms of interface between people are allowing or hampering efforts to anticipate with? What mechanisms (directly embodied or distributed within the social and material field) undergird efforts after social anticipation? How are different social relationships and roles implicated in or instilled through anticipatory activities? Responding directly to this year's AAA theme of "truth and responsibility" this panel aims to consider the foundational role of anticipation in relations with others. Among other points of consideration, anticipation is essential to many forms of responsibility to (and for) others. Likewise, acting on another's behalf may require fidelity to their present and future interests. And yet again, anticipation undergirds all projects to affect others (Schutz 1967 1932) -- and thus prefigures any efforts to make something true for another. Truth itself, in William James' (1995 1907) influential formulation, had the function of "leading" to (further) future understanding -- an observation that underscores the difficulties social anticipation may face when individuals or groups appear not to share a social reality or common aims. Together the papers will aim to catalyze an ambitious conversation within anthropology on the social aspects of anticipation. Works Cited: James, W. (1995 1907) Pragmatism. Dover. Schutz, A. (1967 1932) The Phenomenology of the Social World. Northwestern University Press. Stephan, C. and D. Flaherty (2019) "Experiencing Anticipation: Anthropological Perspectives". Cambridge Journal of Anthropology.


Transcript English (automatic)

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