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. I am a faculty affiliate of the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program and a board member of the Society for Philosophy and Technology.
My current research focuses on the representation of disabled bodies in technological imagination and coincides with research themes of my Technology and Disability course.
My first book, Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge (2017), was 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.
I am co-editor (with Joseph C. Pitt) Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology (Routledge 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.
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 working on a new project about new legs, walking, techno-optimism, techno-ableism, and the lived experience of disability.
In 2016, I 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 the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting, 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; my slides from a presentation on phil-tech pedagogy in Technology and Disability can be found here.
Papers Currently Under Construction:
- “Techno-Optimism and the Amputee Body,” co-authoring with Historian-STSer Dr. Monique Dufour, in early stage of abstract and outline.
- “The Minded Body in Disability and Technology” (rough first version slides here), presented at both the SEPOT Workshop in September 2017 and the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division in January 2018; contributing as part of the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology.
- “Ableism and AI,” draft currently under review for an edited volume
- “Transmobility: Possibilities for Cyborg (Cripborg) Bodies” with co-authors Mallory Kay Nelson and Bethany Stevens, a creative scholarly fun journal article about our cripborg bodies
All of these papers deal with threads of what I see as my next book project, on what I term ‘technoableism.’ Technoableism is the idea that some of the ways in which we cast technologies as ’empowering’ those with disabilities sometimes actually feed into ableist narratives and serve to limit technological choice. I’m really interested in the different, non-dominant stories people tell about their choices and relationships to technologies.
Extra-curricular Work and Writing
Aside from my academic work, I’ve been writing a few first-person essays; some of these have been published over the past year and are available online:
- “Scan Day,” IHadCancer, March 19, 2018.
- “The Long Way Around,” The Chronicle for Higher Education, September 22, 2017.
- “Finding My Amputee Brethren,” Nursing Clio, July 27, 2017.
- “Just Your Average Hard-of-Hearing, Chemobrained Amputee,” IHadCancer, July 19, 2017.
- “Having an Amputation Can Be Okay,” February 8, 2017.
My other roles include:
- Faculty advisor, Disability Alliance at Virginia Tech
- You can also find us on Facebook and as a VT Google Group with low-volume listserv! @DAatVT Twitter Handle.
- Treasurer, Disability Caucus at Virginia Tech
- We often meet in conjunction with the Disability Alliance, solidarity on campus disability issues.
- Chair, Board of Directors, New River Valley Disability Resource Center
- Proud to serve my region’s newish Center for Independent Living!