Place: Medialab-Prado en Intermediae Matadero Madrid (Paseo de la Chopera, 14 Madrid)
"In this paper, I focus on 'open forums' organised in Chile with the aim of bringing together experts and citizens and collectively shaping a reconstruction master plan for the city of Constitución after the earthquake and tsunami of 2010. This is a fascinating case for at least three reasons. Firstly, it is a story about actor-network theory in the wild and, more specifically, about how Michel Callon’s description of hybrid forums and technical democracy has been translated into a management instrument for dealing with controversies available to corporations, both governmental and private. Secondly, this is a case that shows some of the paradoxes and problems associated with the attempt of organising controversies, that is, framing a space, such as the 'open forum', for overflows to occur. Looking in some detail at two open forums on an industrial plant and a fluvial park, I show the persistence of asymmetries between corporations and citizens and between experts and citizens with regard to their capacities to produce undisputable economic and technoscientific facts, thus framing the worlds achievable in these open forums.
Finally, it makes evident citizen’s modes of participation in these forums, which I suggest are based on a tactical use of these power/knowledge asymmetries, not on overcoming them. Thus, this case suggests that the open forums, and the literature inspiring them, while praising a form of citizen participation based on speech, individual responsibility and a collective exploration of the common good, overshadow other forms of legitimate democratic engagement, such as protest or even silence, especially legitimate among a population that just suffered the third largest earthquake ever registered and a devastating tsunami." By Ignacio Farías