DFI Speaker Series: Elin Sundstrom Sjodin
Topic: Reading and Being Read: Sociotechnical imaginaries of books and robots
This presentation will tell about a study on the socio technical imaginaries and educational cares and rationales for reading books when a robot– Bibi – becomes a node within the traditional Swedish welfare system. Here, public libraries, tech corporations, schools, children, and books meet in an endeavor to encourage and develop children’s reading. Drawing on concepts from science- and technology studies (STS), our study shows how reading (with a robot) is enacted as a care practice, where caring for the children’s reading and literature is displaced by care for the robot, in care practices that uphold the enchantment of the robot. Caring for the robot has unexpected and unintended effects such as failures, disruptions, exclusions and even violence, which chafe with the aim of the Bibi- project. Because, although the robot is designed as a care robot that is imagined to helping children who struggle with reading, this is in fact the task that the robot might be least equipped to do.
Elin Sundström Sjödin is an assistant professor in Swedish at the School of Education, Culture and Communication at Mälardalen University in Sweden. Her main research interests focus on literary didactics, critical literacy and science- and technology studies, and especially the processes in which reading and literature becomes valued/valuated as beneficial for individuals as well as for society. In her current research project, The Fiction of Numbers: How reading is made a public and didactic problem, she makes use of STS theories to investigate the construction of reading as a public problem within the spheres of research, public discourse, policy, and educational practice. Sundström Sjödin is currently a visiting scholar at the Digital Futures Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.