skip to primary navigationskip to content

Norma Deseke (2014)

Norma Deseke (2014)

Research Title: Practices of Innovation & Ethics at the Intersection of Art, Science and Technology in Barcelona.

Supervisor: Dr. Matei Candea


I am currently on Ph.D. field research in Barcelona. I explore practices of innovation at the intersection of art, science and technology and how they link to our shifting political economy. I collaborate with artists such as the international research collective BeAnotherLab and “Makers” based in the Fab Lab BCN. Fab Labs are digital fabrication laboratories connected to the Maker Movement through its globally active education network, initiated by MIT´s Centre for Bits and Atoms. I am especially interested in people´s visions of the future, human-machine interaction and forms of knowledge creation through globalised and interdisciplinary work/life experiences.

In preparation of my PhD project, I conducted a pilot study in Barcelona during 2013/2014, focusing on art activism, new forms of collective action and political dissent as well as the transformation of urban spaces. I engaged in alternative forms of knowledge creation through artistic means and presented aspects of this independent research at the EASA conference “Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution“ in Tallinn (2014).

I studied Social Anthropology at the University of Vienna (2005-2012) and at the Australian National University (2010-2011), taking additional classes in Political Science, International Development, Sociology and Philosophy (German Idealism/Critical Theory). I focused on processes of globalisation, such as colonialism and industrialisation, power/knowledge entanglements as well as on constructions of identity, alterity and belonging. During my studies I co-founded and chief-edited the academic journal “Die Maske – Zeitschrift für Kultur-und Sozialanthropologie” (2007-2009). Aiming to publicize knowledge generated in academia, the project encouraged further media engagement through talks, interviews and podcasts. Next to being active in Austria´s Free Media scene, I engaged in urban politics as an activist community organiser focusing on processes of gentrification and the distribution of private/public space. I also worked at the Viennese Institute of Social Anthropology during 2009 as editors´ assistant for the publication of the “Lexikon der Globalisierung” and co-authored the lexicon´s entry on “NGOs” (2011). I conducted my first field research in rural New South Wales, Australia  (2011) for my magisterial thesis “The Meaning and Loss of Place in Times of Globalisation: Family Farms in the Postcolonialising Australian Nation“ (2012; supervised by Andre Gingrich). In  the thesis, I investigate the reasons for the decline of middle-sized family owned farms and future perspectives of agriculture and food security. I thereby explore how white farmers in the fifth generation experience and negotiate the disjuncture between their own sense of belonging and the insecurities caused by Australia’s drive to imagine itself as economically competitive and post-colonial.

I have traveled extensively, most notably in South-Eastern Europe and Russia (2004), Peru (2005) and in the Middle East (2008). In Peru my exploration of healing rituals in an Amazonian village taught me about varying cosmological interpretations of reality. In Israel/Palestine I engaged in peace activism, which enabled me to debate highly sensitive topics in a conflict-ridden area and to better reflect upon complexities of justice and my own cultural background. These pre-fieldwork experiences steered my fascination for anthropology and the mediation and translation of knowledge across contexts.

Research Interests

Art, Science, Technology, Activism, Globalisation, Embodied Cognition & the Senses, Empathy, Ethics, Innovation, Virtual Reality

Key Publications

"NGOs" (together with D. Goetze). In: KREFF, Fernand; KNOLL, Eva-Maria; GINGRICH, Andre (eds.): Lexikon der Globalisierung. Transcript-Verlag: Bielefeld, 2011, p.299-302.