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      A Laboratory as the Infrastructure of Engagement: Epistemological Reflections

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      Open Library of Humanities

      Open Library of Humanities

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          Abstract

          Today’s big challenges―the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, migration, and refugee crises―are global in scale, transcending geographical, national, and cultural boundaries, but responded to at the local level. It has therefore become necessary to reflect on the following questions: what kind of new forms of organizations are needed to tackle real-world problems? How can we enhance the humanities as a responsive field with the ability to translate knowledge into actions? How can we design a better humanities laboratory that is more attuned to contemporary challenges? The social labs as innovative institutions have opened up new epistemological directions for understanding a lab as a platform for addressing complex issues. A laboratory can be understood as a way of thinking and acting that entails new social practices and new research modes. Drawing on social lab theories, critical infrastructure studies, and digital humanities infrastructure theories, this essay aims to present a new theoretical approach to conceptualizing a laboratory in the humanities. I discuss two epistemological perspectives represented by Bruno Latour and Graeme Gooday in order to disclose the power of the laboratory. Next, I present the principles and network structure of social labs. Then, I introduce the concept of the infrastructure of engagement as a new analytical framework for understanding a laboratory as a site of intervention for the humanities as they are involved in addressing pressing global problems. Based on the Humanities Action Lab, I seek to reimagine a laboratory guided by the principles of collaborative infrastructure, participatory approach, and public engagement.

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          Most cited references 22

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          The Infrastructure of Experience and the Experience of Infrastructure: Meaning and Structure in Everyday Encounters with Space

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            Arts of the Contact Zone

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              Laboratory Design and the Aim of Science: Andreas Libavius versus Tycho Brahe

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                27 October 2020
                2020
                : 6
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Aalto University, FI
                [2 ]King’s College London, GB
                Article
                10.16995/olh.569
                Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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