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.
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. I have a number of articles in the works on these themes, including an article on “The Minded Body in Disability and Technology” (rough first version slides here) and another on “Ableism and AI” for different edited volumes and a co-authored work-in-progress that I hope to share soon.
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 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; my slides from a presentation on phil-tech pedagogy in Technology and Disability can be found here.
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:
- “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.
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 foundedCenter for Independent Living, the New River Valley Disability Resource Center. I serve as a board member for the international Society for Philosophy and Technology.