Eugenia Stamboliev

PhD Project: On Ethical Concerns around the Constitution of Moral Agency in Digital Technology

My PhD thesis interrogates the social robot as digital media and humanoid body exploring questions on ethical agency and conflations of ethical and moral canons. I discuss social robots as anthropomorphised and humanoid bodies to point to an anthropomorphic focus in Robot Ethics that conflicts with the ethical concern on the machinic capacities of social robots as data tracking devices.

I outline that streams such as Robot Ethics, Machine and Data Ethics are aiming towards a new algorithmic positivism on morality that is either too anthropocentric or reductionist in its translation of human values or intentions into algorithmic code. At the same time, I also challenge the insufficient discussion on accountability around the use of robots and the role of the human agent designing and using these devices, as I raise an awareness that social robots are increasingly infiltrating sensitive environments as data collectors.

Resulting from my thesis, I argue for a transdisciplinary ethics that avoids a moralised view of technological or human intention, but instead offers a much more fluid and dynamic agency debate that connects practical concerns and theoretical positions but does not neglect the role of human decisions and practical accountability. This thesis’ wider motivation is challenge commercially or anthropomorphically infiltrated discussions on the increasing need and use of robots as unopposed societal goals.

Research Interest

My wider research focuses on socio-technological entanglements in the constitution of subject agency or the representation of such. For instance, I examined the concept of screen materiality discussed through early psychology, early cinema and media philosophy; participatory documentary as a counter narrative of victimhood imagery of refugees; and ethical conflicts around social robots as humanoid companions and data tracking technologies.

Research fields

Applied Ethics, Post-humanist Ethics, Humanoid Robotics, Philosophy of Technology, Media Ethics, Media and Film Philosophy, Early Cinema and Early Psychology, Media and Surveillance Studies, Data and Computer Ethics


  • Stamboliev, E., (2019) Münsterberg, Flusser and the Screen Bodies [Book chapter]. In: Steinmetz, R., ed., A Treasure trove. Friend of the Photoplay – Visionary – Spy? New trans-disciplinary Approaches to Hugo Münsterberg‘s Life and Oeuvre. Leipzig: Leipzig University Press, pp. 109-129.
  • Stamboliev, E. (2019). ‘The caring gaze. Simulating, mediating and rethinking care algorithmically’ [conference article]. In Transtechnology Reader 2017-2018. Plymouth: Plymouth University [in print].
  • Stamboliev, E. (2017) ‘On ‘Spillikin. A Love Story, or on the issues around technology performing sociability’ [peer-reviewed journal article]. Off the Lip: Collaborative Approaches to Cognitive Innovation. In: Avant, 8 (Special Issue), pp. 265-271, doi:10.26913/80s02017.0111.0024
  • Stamboliev, E. (2017) ‘Visualising the Ordinary. On Pierre Schoeller’s ‘The Lost Time’ [peer-reviewed journal article]. Unmediated. Journal for Politics and Communication, 1. pp. 77-80.
  • Stamboliev, E., Jackson, A. (2017). 'Human devices - Instrumentation of physicality in performance'. In Transtechnology Research Reader 2014/2015. Plymouth: Transtechnology Research Institute, pp. 92-101.
  • Stamboliev, E., (2016) Vilém Flusser - Without firm ground [review: Vilém Flusser exhibition Without Firm Ground. Academy of Arts Berlin]. Leonardo Reviews [Online].  
  • Stamboliev, E., (2015) Telepathy, Hypnosis and the Medium [Conference paper]. In: Punt, M., Denham, S., ed., Off the Lip. Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation. 7-11. September 2015. Plymouth: Plymouth University, pp. 205-214.
  • Stamboliev, E. (2015). Shabbat [Encyclopaedia entry]. In: Zielinski, S., Weibel P., and Irrgang, D., ed., Flusseriana. An Intellectual Toolbox. Minneapolis: Univocal Publishing.
  • Stamboliev, E. (2015). Dwelling [Encyclopaedia entry]. In: Zielinski, S., Weibel P., and Irrgang, D., ed., Flusseriana. An Intellectual Toolbox. Minneapolis: Univocal Publishing.
  • Stamboliev, E. (2015). On Wittmann, On Münsterberg, On Cinema. In: Punt, M., Blassnigg, M., Drayson, H., Woodward, M., ed., Transtechnology Research Reader 2014/2015. Plymouth: Transtechnology Research Institute.

Selected conference papers

  • ‘The caring gaze. Simulating, mediating and rethinking care algorithmically.’ Ideoplasticity and the problem of felicitous falsehoods. Transtechnology Research Slow Conference, 21 March 2018.
  • ‘Documentary film as a method to ground the Ordinary. On Pierre Schoeller’s attempt to visualise daily life in ‘The Lost Time’ [Conference paper]. On the Move. Migration, Societies and Change. Manchester Migration Lab, University Manchester, 30 October – 01 November 2017.
  • ‘On ‘Spillikin. A Love Story, or on the issues around technology performing sociability’ [Conference paper]. Off the Lip 2017. CogNovo Colloquium on Experiences and Applications of Cognitive Innovation. Plymouth University, 16 – 18 August 2017.
  • 'The Refugee as Image, and Image Maker. Using participatory filmmaking to break the Other’s gaze' [Conference paper]. Future Imperfect. A symposium examining the role of cinema today. Plymouth University, 1 April 2017.
  • 'Performing Emotions: Humanoid robots beyond bad acting' [Conference paper]. Creative Encounters with Science and Technology. Legacies, Imaginaries and Futures. Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016. Kochi, Biennale Pavilion, 18 – 19 February 2017.
  • 'Using the Refugee as Vehicle for Political Shift. Unpacking the Austrian Presidential Campaign 2016' [conference paper]. Media and Migration. Conference ECREA - European Communication Research and Education Association. Prague, Institut Français de Prague, Canadian and German Embassy, 7 – 9 November 2016.
  • 'A space to wonder — collective improvisation with sound and movement' [workshop in cooperation with Klara Łucznik, Abigail Jackson and Ali Northcott] Off the Lip 2016. Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation. Plymouth, Plymouth University, 22 October 2016.
  • 'In Awe of Things. On the Authority of Objects in Scientific and Theatrical Performances' [conference paper]. Annual TaPRA conference (Theatre and Performance Research Association). Bristol, Bristol University, 5 – 7 September 2016.
  • 'Münsterberg, Flusser and the Screen Bodies' [conference paper]. A Hundred Years of Film Theory. Münsterberg and Beyond: Concepts, Applications, Perspectives. Leipzig, Leipzig University, 28 June – 2 July 2016.
  • 'Telepathy, Hypnosis and the Medium' [conference paper]. Off the Lip 2015. Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation. Cooperation between CogNovo and Transtechnology Research. Plymouth, Plymouth University, 7 – 11 September 2015.


  • Performance Studies Research Series. Performance. Experience. Presence (PEP) Talks. 'Performing intimacy. On the dilemma of representing affection with non-human bodies' [22 March 2017].
  • Transtechnology Research Seminar Series 2016 - 2017. Tropes of Affect: Devices, Narrative and Illusion. 'Human devices - Instrumentation of physicality in performance'. Collaboration with Abigail Jackson [19 October 2016].
  • Transtechnology Research Seminar Series 2015-2016. Objects of Affect and Affection. 'The Medical Gaze: Mechanical Distance and the Affected Mind'. Collaboration with Agi Haines [13 April 2016].
  • Transtechnology Research Seminar Series 2014/2015. Cognition and the Image of Affection: Instrumentation, Realism and Technology. 'The Hypnotic Image. From affect to named emotion' [22 October 2014].


BA (Hons) Media Arts

  • MEDI 502. Independent Practice. 2016/2017
  • MEDI 603. Independent Practice. 2017/2018
  • MEDI 602. Dissertation. 2018/2019
  • MEDI 407. Narrative. 2018/2019

BA Digital Art and Technology/Digital Media Design

  • DAT 613. Dissertation. 2017/2018
  • DAT 402. Digital Culture. 2018/2019