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Caitrin Lynch
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA 02492-1200)
Textiles and Technology in a New England Factory: Changing Meanings of Work in the United States

Summer research and writing on Cultural Anthropology.

This project examines the role of technology, particularly robotics, in keeping a 150-year-old New England textile factory in business--and related questions of morality, economy, work, and what it means to be human. Scholars have long considered the impact of technology on the meanings of work. What special questions do robots raise? Work is a key aspect of human identity across societies, and ceding something so central to human identity to a computerized machine raises questions about what it means to be human. What is unique about being human if engineers can reproduce such a central feature of who we are? This project engages conversations in anthropology and related fields, including studies of technology and society, the meanings of work and the economy, and robotics and sociality. Unique is the focus on a factory that has existed during the rise and fall of American industrial production, using technological innovations to help weather late-20th-century U.S. factory closings.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Cultural Anthropology

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 7/31/2015