TRANSOR Workshop III (April 2016)

Social Robotics and Imagination


Start: April 20, 2016 from 10-18 at University of Copenhagen, followed by dinner

End: April 21, 2016 from 10-13 at University of Copenhagen


University of Copenhagen Amager Campus (KUA), Room 27.0.49, Njalsgade 136, 2300 Copenhagen S

Workshop fees: 

Participation in the workshop is free of charge, but registration is necessary.


This workshop seeks to explore the concepts of "imagination", "cultural imagination" and "the imaginary"  from different perspectives in order to clarify how such notions influence perceptions and interactions with the technology. Specifically we would like to map out some of the registers that affect the representation of social robots as both real and imaginary figures.

As Lucy Suchman lines up in the introduction to her book Human-Machine Reconfigurations (2007), the word “imaginary” refers to the ways in which we see and imagine the world to be shaped, and is therefore also important for how we imagine technology. Imaginaries frame the human-machine reconfiguration and are realized in material ways. Despina Kakoudaki writes in her article “Studying Robots: Between Science and the Humanities” (2007) that real robots are inseparable from their imaginary counterparts because fiction affords intellectual and emotional content to the robot’s cultural presence. Anne Balsamo argues for the close connection between imagination and innovation in her book Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work ( 2011), and discusses social dimensions such as gender narratives within the technological imagination.

Many other scholars in the field of social robotics refer to the concept of “imagination” or “imaginaries” in order to explain the cultural impact on the development of social robotics and human interaction with machines (Braidotti, Haraway, Sabanovich, to name a few). The different notions of “imaginaries” and “imagination” are suited for helping us think more deeply about the shifting perceptions of the social robotics; aesthetics, functionality  and behavioral interaction, and to reflect upon the social robotics as something emblematic to the culture in our time. 

We would like to discuss questions concerning, but not limited to, how actual social robotics refer to or use the traditions of robotic representation in science fiction, film, philosophy and popular culture. How does cultural imagination determine and domesticate the interaction between humans and social robots? What is the affectual relationships between social robots and humans in terms of desire and imagination?

We invite papers and presentations  from any relevant discipline (philosophy, robotics, anthropology, psychology, cultural studies, arts, education, linguistics, cognitive science, computer science, sociology, science and technology studies. etc.), that address the notions of “imagination” in conjunction with the design, deployment, and development of social robotics.