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Dr Laura Watts

Formerly at Lancaster University

Laura Watts

Research Interests

futures; ethnographic writing; science studies; feminist technoscience; anthropology of technology; high-tech industry; landscape; prehistoric archaeology.

Donna Haraway once wrote of making knowledge: "What if the study and crafting of fiction and fact happened explicitly, instead of covertly, in the same room, and in all the rooms?" This question weaves through my work.

"...I feel I am working at an interface between high-tech futures, ethnographic evidence, and creative writing.

"...How are futures made in everyday practices in high-tech industries, and subsequently materialised in artefacts and infrastructures in the landscape? And, of course, how do artefacts, and the temporalities and topographies of landscape 'kick-back' at those futures. How do futures get done differently in different places?

"...I'm also concerned with the effect of different methods of communication on how knowledge is made. Different styles of writing use evidence in different ways: archaeologists reconstruct places, ethnographers weave accounts, novelists imagine stories. How do methods of writing resist or promote particular forms of knowledge (in academia and in industry). How do different writing approaches, as part of an apparatus for making knowledge, make the world differently? And might different writing methods create the possibility for making different knowledges, and different futures?

"These ongoing interests have evolved from my experiences working with so many of my colleagues here at Lancaster and elsewhere, and from working inside and alongside the telecoms industry for over decade, in a variety of roles from design to business strategy, to a writer exploring narrative in mobile media spaces."

For more information see my project website at www.sand14.com


Watts, L. and Lyons, G. (2010) Travel Remedy Kit: Interventions into Train Lines and Passenger Times, in Buscher, M. Urry, J. and Witchger, K. (eds.) Mobile Methods, London, Routledge. [view book (amazon.co.uk)|download draft]

Watts, L. (2008) The Future is Boring: Stories from the landscapes of the mobile telecoms industry, in 21st Century Society: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences (special issue on Future Matters: Futures Known, Created, Minded), 3(2), pp. 187-198. [download article (informaworld) | download draft]

Watts, L. (2008) The Art and Craft of Train Travel, in Journal of Social and Cultural Geography (special issue on Spatial Technologies/Technological Spaces), 9(6), pp. 711 — 726. [download article (informaworld) | download draft]

Watts, L. and Urry, J. (2008) Moving Methods, Travelling Times, in Society and Space (Environment and Planning D), 26 (5), 860-874. [download article (pion) | download draft]

Watts, L. (2005) Designing the Future: Fables from the mobile telecoms industry, in Glotz, P., Bertschi, S. and Locke, C. (eds) Thumb Culture: the meaning of mobile phones for society, Piscataway NJ, Transcript Verlag/Transaction. [view book (amazon.co.uk) | download draft | preview book (googlebooks)]

I also have numerous papers, podcasts, and other writings published online: see mypersonal website,and search ePrints under my name.

Project Links

Personal website

Current and archived projects, news, blog, podcasts, online papers, are available via my personal website at www.sand14.com

Latest updates (RSS / delicious)

All the latest news, publications, and performances from ongoing projects.

Relocating-innovation Mailing List

For information and updates on the relocating-innovation project please join the mailing list.

Relocating Innovation: Places and material practices of future-making

How do arrangements of persons and things designated as 'new' come into being? To address this question critically requires illuminating the politics of innovation, in an era where the 'new' is treated as an unquestioned good. It requires as well moving outside of familiar areas of research. Ongoing Leverhulme-funded research project with Lucy Suchman and Endre Danyi.

A Future Archaeology of the Mobile Telecoms Industry

From a record of its places, materials, and practices, what futures does a mobile telecoms industry foretell? What futures does it construct for itself? And, what other futures may be reconstructed from those fragments of evidence? Doctoral research project, completed 2007.

Travel-Time Use in the Information Age

A journey is both translation and transition. It is an effect, a performance, in which a journey and a traveller are made. Travelling takes effort: bodies, train carriages, newspapers, luggage, brakes, sandwiches, motorway bridges and so on, must work to create moments of departure and arrival. EPSRC research project at Centre for Mobilities Research, and Centre for Transport & Society at University of the West of England, completed 2007.

Current Teaching

Laura Watts has now left Lancaster for IT University of Copenhagen

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