Measurement by Default
Publication Date: June 2022 (Issue No. 47)
Submission Deadline: October 31, 2021
■ ■ ■
From the worldwide “happiness index” to wearable body monitoring gadgets, from university performance rankings to standardized tests, from psychometric evaluations of personality traits to state-of-the-art parametric architecture created by calculation science, the contemporary life is easily a measured life.
To be sure, measurement has been an integral part of civilization. But its development in modern times has intensely informed the institutionalization of particular systems of thought and standardization of particular ways of living. The goods and ills of measuring have drawn considerable critical attention in social sciences and science and technology studies: the episteme-shaping practices of various mechanisms of measuring, the contribution of cartography to the advancement of imperialism, the tyranny of scientific objectivity in metrology, the normative datafication of the everyday in the digital age, just to name a few.
Building on the wealth of scholarship available, this feature topic proposes to intervene from the vantage point of the humanities. We invite research articles that examine responses to the question of measurement in literary works, art practices, films, and cultural instances. We are especially interested in those cases of measurement that constitute the epistemological, psychological, and affective substrata of individual or collective life within specific contexts. Theoretical engagement is by all means also encouraged.
Topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- The rationality of measurement: e.g., measurement of time, measurement of space, linear perspective
- The embodiment of measurement: measuring the senses
- Measurement as a cultural technique (Kulturtechniken): grids, the computing logic, etc.
- Measurement and universalization of values
- Technicalities of measurement: e.g., prosody, notation in music and dance
- Mechanics of measurement: diagrams, ladders, scales, optics, etc.
- Measurement and visibility
- Measurement in different cultural parameters: e.g., non-Western medicine
- Calculating risk and uncertainty in capitalism
- The unmeasurable
- The incommensurable or the impossibility of positing terms of comparability