Reeve, D. and Sewell, R. (2014) ‘The rise of the Maker Movement and open source prosthetics: An example of Braidotti’s critical posthuman subject’, paper presented at Theorizing Normalcy and the Mundane, 5th International Conference, Sheffield University, 7-8 July.
Theorists such as Braidotti and Haraway have written about the emergence of the posthuman during the late 20th century, highlighting the increasing significance of intimate relationships between people and the non-human. Many disabled people have this relationship with technology and animals – assistance dogs, implants and prosthetics to name a few – but these theorists rarely engage with the experiences of this group of people who could be considered to be already posthuman.
Goodley, Lawthom and Runswick Cole (forthcoming) argue that ‘disability captures the productive possibilities of the posthuman condition … [and] brings something critical, politicised and rich to posthuman theory’. This exploratory paper seeks to provide another concrete example of the ‘critical posthuman subject’ (Braidotti, 2013) by looking at the way in which the rise of the Maker Movement and new forms of digital collaboration have enabled people to design and manufacture prosthetic limbs and assistive technology that meet the needs of disabled people in new ways. The rise of this ‘citizen designer’ (Hamidi et al 2014) provides a direct challenge to the conventional production of these assistive products and is made possible because of global flows of information, technology and materials.