Hi, my name is Ashley Shew, and I manage this website, which developed in the context of a course on the subject of Technology and Disability. I serve as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech, where I focus on issues in philosophy of technology.
My current research agenda focuses on the representation of disabled bodies in technological imagination and coincides with research themes of my Technology and Disability course.
Forthcoming with Routledge, I co-edited (with Joseph C. Pitt) Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology (release date: August 21, 2017). This agenda-setting volume, filled with all new pieces in contemporary philosophy of technology, seeks to anticipate pressing and enduring issues in phil-tech research and features many fresh voices. My own work on the place of animals in philosophy of technology is featured in the volume.
My first book, Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge, will be published with Lexington‘s series in Postphenomenology and Philosophy of Technology. Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge situates the use of tools by non-human animals in the context of theories about technological knowledge and argues that the material work of animals has significance for philosophy and epistemology of technology. Working on this topic in various ways between 2006 and 2016, I will be so pleased to see this book released in October 2017! 😀
While I have long enjoyed incorporating topics in technology and disability in my teaching of ethics, controversies about technologies, and philosophy of technology, the topic now plays an even larger role in my life and in my research. I became multiply disabled during 2013-2014 as I was treated for an aggressive form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. A hard-of-hearing, chemobrained amputee, I am now disabled and proud – and working on a new book project about new legs, walking, techno-optimism, techno-ableism, and the lived experience of disability.
In 2016, I’ve had the pleasure of giving invited talks and getting valuable feedback about some of this work (“We Can Rebuild You: Disabled Bodies and Technological Imagination”) at Cal Poly and Old Dominion. I also presented at the IEEE Ethics 2016 on “Up-Standing Norms,” slides here. In November 2016, I participated in a panel on Technology, Bias, and Scientific Knowledge at the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting (on behalf of the Society for Philosophy and Technology), where I presented on the quantification of walking, slides here. I also had the opportunity to present two papers on themes in technology and disability during the June 2017 Society for Philosophy and Technology conference in Darmstadt.
Aside from my academic work, I’ve been writing more first-person essays about my experiences. I talk about becoming an amputee in one essay and published a happy reflection on my chemobrain with the IHadCancer network, and a piece called “Finding My Amputee Brethren” will be published with Nursing Clio in July 2017.
I serve as faculty advisor for the Disability Alliance at Virginia Tech and participate in the Disability Caucus. I also currently chair the board for my region’s newly founded Center for Independent Living, the New River Valley Disability Resource Center. I serve as a board member for the international Society for Philosophy and Technology.