Anne Aronsson

Anne Aronsson's picture
Sumitomo Postdoctoral Associate in Japanese Studies and Lecturer in Anthropology (August 2021-June 2023)
Areas of interest : 
Aging; Life Course; Health; Robotics; Artificial Intelligence; Social Robots; Emotional Technologies
Region: 
Japan

Anne Aronsson is an anthropologist of Japan and obtained her PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from Yale University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with a Suslowa-Postdoc-Fellowship grant at the University of Zurich in Switzerland where she taught a seminar course “Global Processes in East Asia.” At Yale she will continue her work on her postdoctoral project on elder care in Japan and the use of robotic care devices, with a focus on social robots and emerging emotional technologies as well as teach in the Department of Anthropology; “Anthropology of Japan: Continuity and Change” (fall 2022), “Cultures and Markets: Asia Connected in Time and Space” (spring 2022), and “Culture, History, Power, and Representation” (fall 2022). Anne has authored several publications, including “Social Robots in Elderly Care: The Turn Toward Machines in Contemporary Japan,” in the special issue “Relations, Entanglements, and Enmeshments of Humans and Things: A Materiality Perspective” in Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology; “Conceptualizing Robotic Agency: Social Robots in Elder Care in Contemporary Japan” and introductory chapter in the special issue “Finding Agency in Nonhumans” published in Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism; “Multispecies Entanglements in the Virosphere: Rethinking the Anthropocene in Light of the 2019 Coronavirus Outbreak,” co-authored with Fynn and published in The Anthropocene Review; and her monograph Career Women in Contemporary Japan: Pursuing Identities, Fashioning Lives published with Routledge Contemporary Japan Series.

Upcoming publications include:

2022 Aronsson, Anne. “Professional Women and Elder Care in Contemporary Japan: Anxiety and the Move Toward Technocare,” in Anthropology & Aging, March/43(1)

2022 Aronsson, Anne. “An Anthropology of Social Robots: Ontological Indefinity and Subjective Experience of Robots in Elder Care” (under review)

2023 Aronsson, Anne. “The Opacity of the Real in  Sociotechnical Imaginaries: Social Robots in Health and Elder Care” working paper as part of special issue in journal East Asian Science, Technology and Society (EASTS) based on panel “AI in Health and Care: Development, Governance, and Ethics in East Asia” at Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland virtual conference on topic “Anthropology, AI and the Future of Human Society”

2023 Aronsson, Anne. “Social Robots in Health and Care during COVID-19 and Beyond” working paper as part of special issue based on roundtable “AI in holistic care and healing practices: the caring encounter beyond COVID-19” at Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland virtual conference on topic “Anthropology, AI and the Future of Human Society”

Courses

ANTH 415

Culture, History, Power, and Representation

This seminar critically explores how anthropologists use contemporary social theories to formulate the junctures of meaning, interest, and power. It thus aims to integrate symbolic, economic, and political perspectives on culture and social process. If culture refers to the understandings and meanings by which people live, then it constitutes the conventions of social life that are themselves produced in the flux of social life, invented by human activity. Theories of culture must therefore illuminate this problematic of agency and structure. They must show how social action can both reproduce and transform the structures of meaning, the conventions of social life. Even as such a position becomes orthodox in anthropology, it raises serious questions about the possibilities for ethnographic practice and theoretical analysis. How, for example, are such conventions generated and transformed where there are wide differentials of power and unequal access to resources? What becomes of our notions of humans as active agents of culture when the possibilities for maneuver and the margin of action for many are overwhelmed by the constraints of a few? How do elites—ritual elders, Brahmanic priests, manorial lords, factory-managers—secure compliance to a normative order? How are expressions of submission and resistance woven together in a fabric of cultural understandings? How does a theory of culture enhance our analyses of the reconstitution of political authority from traditional kingship to modern nation-state, the encapsulation of pre-capitalist modes of production, and the attempts to convert “primordial sentiments” to “civic loyalties”? How do transnational fluidities and diasporic connections make instruments of nation-states contingent? These questions are some of the questions we immediately face when probing the intersections of culture, politics and representation, and they are the issues that lie behind this seminar. 

Term: Fall 2022
Day/Time: Th 1:30 PM - 3:20 PM
ANTH 515, EAST 515

Culture, History, Power, and Representation

This seminar critically explores how anthropologists use contemporary social theories to formulate the junctures of meaning, interest, and power. It thus aims to integrate symbolic, economic, and political perspectives on culture and social process. If culture refers to the understandings and meanings by which people live, then it constitutes the conventions of social life that are themselves produced in the flux of social life, invented by human activity. Theories of culture must therefore illuminate this problematic of agency and structure. They must show how social action can both reproduce and transform the structures of meaning, the conventions of social life. Even as such a position becomes orthodox in anthropology, it raises serious questions about the possibilities for ethnographic practice and theoretical analysis. How, for example, are such conventions generated and transformed where there are wide differentials of power and unequal access to resources? What becomes of our notions of humans as active agents of culture when the possibilities for maneuver and the margin of action for many are overwhelmed by the constraints of a few? How do elites—ritual elders, Brahmanic priests, manorial lords, factory-managers—secure compliance to a normative order? How are expressions of submission and resistance woven together in a fabric of cultural understandings? How does a theory of culture enhance our analyses of the reconstitution of political authority from traditional kingship to modern nation-state, the encapsulation of pre-capitalist modes of production, and the attempts to convert “primordial sentiments” to “civic loyalties”? How do transnational fluidities and diasporic connections make instruments of nation-states contingent? These questions are some of the questions we immediately face when probing the intersections of culture, politics and representation, and they are the issues that lie behind this seminar.

Term: Fall 2022
Day/Time: Th 1:30 PM - 3:20 PM
EAST 418, ANTH 418

Emotional Technologies of Affect, Artificial Intelligence, and Social Robotics in East Asia

This course proposes to study the relationship between emotions and material culture by analyzing techniques, technologies, and material culture through a variety of ethnographic studies of technological systems such as urban train systems in Tokyo, slot machines in Las Vegas, televised military commemorations in Pakistan, and emotionally intelligent robots emerging around the world. As such, this seminar links discussions on affect, emotion, and subjectivity to engagements with material culture, and considers how affect is not only constructed as an ethnographic object by anthropologists but also targeted as a technical device for subjects, states, and corporations. The course proceeds by examining the interrelation of social processes and interior worlds through key anthropological concepts, such as embodiment, materiality, and performance. Moreover, it also explores how ethnographic descriptions can challenge and undo these concepts, and in doing so highlight processes of bias, blindness, and ethnocentrism entangled in the very concept of technology. Lastly, the course also includes discussions on artificial intelligence, automation, and robots, analyzing how emotional technologies connect social processes and environments to the intimate spaces of bodily experience around the world, especially among tech-savvy Asian urbanites.

Term: Spring 2023
Day/Time: T 3:30 PM - 5:20 PM
EAST 518, ANTH 518

Emotional Technologies of Affect, Artificial Intelligence, and Social Robotics in East Asia

This course studies the relationship between emotions and material culture by analyzing techniques, technologies, and material culture through a variety of ethnographic studies of technological systems such as urban train systems in Tokyo, slot machines in Las Vegas, televised military commemorations in Pakistan, and emotionally intelligent robots emerging around the world. As such, this seminar links discussions on affect, emotion, and subjectivity to engagements with material culture, and considers how affect is not only constructed as an ethnographic object by anthropologists but also targeted as a technical device for subjects, states, and corporations. The course proceeds by examining the interrelation of social processes and interior worlds through key anthropological concepts, such as embodiment, materiality, and performance. Moreover, it also explores how ethnographic descriptions can challenge and undo these concepts, and in doing so highlight processes of bias, blindness, and ethnocentrism entangled in the very concept of technology. Lastly, the course also includes discussions on artificial intelligence, automation, and robots, analyzing how emotional technologies connect social processes and environments to the intimate spaces of bodily experience around the world, especially among tech-savvy Asian urbanites.

Term: Spring 2023
Day/Time: T 3:30 PM - 5:20 PM