Lara-bio-shot

My research begins with moments of breakdown, where technologies and technological systems are beginning to unravel. I study the practices of repair, mending and remediation that respond to malfunction and decay; and also the processes of salvaging and wasting that accompany the demise of systems or machines. Sites of repair provide profoundly rich and engaging snapshots of how we live with technologies. The work of getting – and keeping – technologies ‘working’ (whatever that may mean) enfold their own values and resources. These open up to offer a counterpoint to more traditional discourses around communications and computing technologies.

I am particularly interested in studying sites of repair in the global South. Sites may be ‘marginal’ to corporate centres of technology and infrastructure design, yet crucial parts of the globalised networks of technology production. Countries of the global South are increasingly profitable new markets for communication and computing technologies. These are important and relevant locations for scholars who are interested in the ‘long tail’ of communications and computing technologies. I am interested in how repair studies in the global South might inform an emergent strand of ‘postcolonial computing’.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Sociology department at Goldsmiths, University of London, working with PI Jennifer Gabrys and Researcher Helen Pritchard on the ERC project Citizen Sense. I completed my PhD in Sociology at Lancaster University’s Centre for Science Studies, supervised by Lucy Suchman and Adrian Mackenzie. This was funded by the Microsoft Research PhD scholarship programme. Prior to that I completed an MA in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College. My career began with an undergraduate degree in Design (also at Goldsmiths) and I have worked as a designer, design manager and studio manager at consultancies in London.

lara [at] labmeta [dot] net
@lara_houston
academia.edu/LaraHouston