December 2021

Limits: Loss and Learnings  

In various ways and with various consequences, we all experience limits. The earth itself is constantly reminding us of its limits, often met with great resistance in acknowledging its state.

We as a Lab have various limits and are practicing how to learn from them: bodily limits, time limits, technological limits, skill limits, space limits, social limits, funds limits, method limits, political regulatory limits. 

For 2021, we decided to focus on limits, having been through times of restrictions in response to corona spreading. We started the year being at home and are ending the year in our various forms of home offices. Although we at times have been less willing to connect to our limits, they have shown up in various ways and also in ways we did not expect.

One of them being through empty seats. Workshops and events are a large part of ETHOS’s life and contribution to the academic community. During prior workshops and events, we would know that people would show up and take part. This year it has been different: the certainty was lost. When the restrictions loosened, we wondered if there would be a collective accumulated desire to attend shows, plays, and talks. However, just as people did not flock to see the new exhibitions, there were empty seats at our events. 

Firstly, feeling puzzled and slightly rejected, we realized that low participation could be a result of people protecting themselves and taking care of limits to their energy after a long lockdown. The capacity to be in social settings perhaps needs more time to recalibrate – as we ourselves also have experienced. Some of us attended beyond our limits earlier on.

We could feel joy and care for those not attending, but also exhaustion from the emotional and practical labour of planning and preparing, to arrive at yet another cancellation or postponement.

A limit we previous have neglected to see became visible to us as we hosted a Junior Researcher project in the Lab. The project involved building a solar driven server, which made us question our own website infrastructure and energy consumption.

Now we are beginning an exciting experiment where we will host our site on a solar driven server, located in our Lab. In this newsletter, we are sharing a recent blog post going deeper into the reflections on working with ecological limits and the sly feeling of pleasure following the possibility of having a site that will not always be available.

Yet there are limitations which we wish were not there.

The declaration “On excessive activism in certain research environments” - which was signed by a broad coalition in the Parliament in June 2021 - evoked feelings of frustration and grief amongst the Lab and our peers.

Frustration that politicians aimed to delimit knowledge production, while at the same time denying that they were attempting to do so. Frustration over the glorification and simultaneously misconception of “neutral science”. Grief that the research that many of us aim to do was targeted for restriction. It feels difficult how to learn from this moment, even as we saw mobilization within our research groups and support for one another at a time of vulnerability.

As the year is slowly ending, we are looking ahead to ensure we have space to play around with methods and reflect on methodology in Spring 2022. A priority for us will be to nurture our own Lab community and build up our skills.

Learning from limits, we might do fewer workshops and think about other ways of doing collective reflections and sharing.

Care for your limits and enjoy your Decembers.

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Co-heads of Lab: Marisa Cohn & Rachel Douglas-Jones
Lab Manager: Merethe Riggelsen Gjørding




Why Our Website Will Not Always be Accessible…

By Luis Landa, Research Ass,. & Merethe Riggelsen Gjørding, Lab Manager

In the new year, our website will be traveling to a different server. A server running on solar power, where we do not yet know its capacities. Our availability online might change, but we also want it to. (...)  A sly feeling of pleasure in not always being available spread around the Lab as planning how to proceed with the solar panel server transition. Perhaps as the personal pressure of being available is linked to the experience of a 24/7 availability of information online, it seemed relieving not to “give in” on all website surfers’ requests. We will allow our website to answer: “No, we don’t have energy. Come back later when we have.”

Facilitating Digital Self-Care How?

By Casper Frohn, Lab TA

In the autumn of 2021, ETHOS Lab hosted two workshops under the title “Digital Self-Care” carried out by Post.doc Michael Hockenhull, Lab Manager Merethe Riggelsen Gjørding, and Lab TA Casper Frohn. In this blogpost, Casper invites you into the process of how this came to be, reflections on what digital self-care entails, as well as the takeaways from shaping and reshaping this collective space. (...) We (...) articulated to a greater extend our vision and hopes for the workshop as well as contextualized our idea of self-care in the times of digital surveillance and lack of regulation with Audre Lorde’s famous words of: “self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” We embraced not being experts. Our goal was from the start to facilitate a space to get things done, and as such we reminded ourselves that the workshop was a collective achievement where everyone was invited to share their experiences and knowledge.

Digital detox and self-care: Individualised responsibility as an answer to a structural dilemma?

By: Jasmin Katharina Shokoui, Lab intern

Can you use the terms digital detox and digital self-care as synonyms and do they describe and refer to the same practices? This blog post takes a comparative stance to look into digital self-care and digital detox to find answers and more open questions. (...) We should also reflect that, as we often rely on digital technologies to participate in everyday life, the corporations to which these products belong inherit a lot of power over us. This makes it hard to limit our use of digital technologies sustainably. One could argue that it would be more effective, if the companies producing digital technologies would become fully responsible for their products. Considering digital detox and self-care, it might be advantageous to critically reflect that a “healthy” technology use is not only an issue of individual responsibility but a societal matter that policymakers should tackle. 


Things in the World We Enjoyed...

... The AI Yesterday team, led by PhD candidate Maggi Magrath, has issued its first zine. AI Yesterday is a digital zine that challenges dominant narratives about AI’s potential futures. Through experimental, freeform participation, the project embraces voices and outputs that academic writing and journalism often exclude. Historically, zines help make the communities that create them. We have been enjoying reading through the first edition and encourage you to take a look at their first wonderful creation.


PhD & Job Calls

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) is looking for a Post-Doctoral Researcher: The successful applicant will draw on concepts from science and technology studies (STS) and conduct comparative research in three countries (Germany, Canada, and, likely, the US),1 focusing on the emergence of ocean-based NETs as an object of scientific study, technological development, commercial exploitation, national regulatory power, global governance, and activism. Deadline: January 3rd, 2022

PhD Position in STS on AI & Society at the Technical University of Munich: We are seeking a doctoral researcher to join our team for the project “Responsible Innovation
Communication in AI Research” funded by the TUM-IAS. This project is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Maja Horst (DTU Copenhagen). The project takes an STS perspective to communication and explores what it might mean to consider communication as a key element of responsible research and innovation. Deadline: January 7, 2022

PhD candidate in the field of legal tech, digitization and new technologies,  Technical University of Munich (TUM)Are you passionate about digitization and its effects on society and law? Do you care about how emergent technologies like artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technologies or platforms shape future societies? (...) You will be hired as a researcher. The position is initially limited to one and a half years with the possibility of extension once the aptitude for scientific work with the aim of a doctoral degree is clarified. Deadline: January 15, 2022


ETHOS Lab Open Hours 

Opening hours are now on break following the academic year. Stay tuned on our website if we will begin the new year with open hours in a visual meeting space or from home. 


The Lab has regular opening hours throughout the semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 14, allowing for a lunch break around noon.

The opening hours are co-working time for the Lab staff, as well as an opportunity for impromptu meetings and informal encounters for the community of faculty and students. This is an opening for bouncing off ideas, getting feedback, and work in the Lab.
Everyone is welcome, just pop by!