Archive for January, 2009

Latour and Sloterdijk at Columbia University

30 January 2009

OK, not actually on the same day… Besides appearing at the “The Changing Dynamics of Public Controversies” event, Bruno Latour will also give a public talk entitled “Globalization: Which Globe? Which Politics?” at the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University on Thursday, 5 February 2009,  starting at 6:15pm. Peter Sloterdijk will give a talk on how “You Must Change Your Life,” also at the Heyman Center, at 6:15pm on Thursday, 19 February 2009.

The Changing Dynamics of Public Controversies

29 January 2009

An interesting conference coming up next week at Columbia. (Thanks to socializing finance for the link.) Places are limited, registration required. Further details here.

The Changing Dynamics of Public Controversies

With Yochai Benkler (Harvard), Bruno Latour (Sciences Po) & Paul Starr (Princeton)

Friday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009
At Columbia University

Organized by the Columbia Communications Ph.D. program

This conference will facilitate a conversation about how public controversies play out in today’s changing media environment. What creates controversy? How do controversies “work”? How are the dynamics of controversy altered as the social, technical, and economic parameters of human communication change? Led by three keynote speakers, we will inventory and analyze major perspectives on the character of public controversy today.


STS seminars at Oxford

26 January 2009

Two interesting seminar series in STS coming up at Oxford:

Visiting Speakers Series, Hilary Term 2009
Governance, Accountability and Innovation in Turbulent Times
James Martin Institute Seminar Room
Saïd Business School
Tuesdays, 16.00 to 18.00

Javier Lezaun is the convenor of an interdisciplinary seminar series to explore the contemporary nexus of innovation, accountability and governance. How can we begin to conceptualise the emerging balances, and imbalances, between innovation dynamics, forms of accountability, and governance structures? Speakers will address problems and examples from the world of financial markets, innovation systems, risk management, policy-making, and environmental governance.

03 February
Noortje Marres (Goldsmiths College)
Invisible, nontoxic but not exactly odourless? Experiments in carbon-based living and postcalculative forms of engagement

10 February
Rob Hagendijk (University of Amsterdam)
Building National Innovation Systems in the Global South: Accountability, Politics and Democracy

17 February
Perri 6 (Nottingham Trent University)
Making people more responsible? The Blair governments’ programme for changing citizens’ behaviour

24 February
Mike Power (London School of Economics)
Risk Management as a Moral Order

03 March
Karel Williams (University of Manchester)
Governance, Conjuncture and Financial Innovation


Science and Technology Studies
Lunchtime Seminars

Hilary Term 2009
James Martin Institute Seminar Room
Saïd Business School
12.00 to 14.00

The Science and Technology Studies group at the JMI invites you to a series of irregular, informal but nevertheless substantial lunchtime seminars during Hilary Term. Three leading scholars in the field will be presenting their work in progress.

24 February
Kaushik Sunder Rajan (University of California, Irvine)
Intellectual Property, Pharmaceutical Logics, and Ideologies of Innovation in Indian Biomedicine

02 March
Fabian Muniesa (Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Ecole des Mines de Paris)
Elements of Performativity in the Pedagogy of Business

19 March
Geoffrey Bowker (Santa Clara University)
Political and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology Studies – Stories from the Field

On Heidegger’s tool analysis

23 January 2009

We have been fortunate here at ANTHEM to be treated a number of times in recent years to Graham Harman’s uncanny ability to abstract and summarise. He has just done it again, this time summarising his own philosophical position on his Object-Oriented Philosophy blog. At the same time in this post Harman also provides a very concise summary of his unorthodox reading of Heidegger’s tool analysis, which first appeared in Tool-Being (2002), and more recently in Heidegger Explained (2008). Harman draws on Whitehead and Leibniz to reinterpret Heidegger’s famous distinction between the ready-to-hand and present-at-hand, which in a number of ways brings him very close to actor-network theory (although some fundamental differences between his position and that of Bruno Latour remain, as he makes it clear). Highly recommended to anyone intrigued by the rift between (Heideggerian) phenomenology and ANT.

The Deleuzian ‘Spatium’ and its ‘Becoming’

23 January 2009

An interesting ISRF seminar coming up at ISIG, LSE on 29 January 2009, exploring the connections between Heidegger and Deleuze in relation to technology and organisations:

Information Systems Research Forum

Rethinking Technological Change in Organizations: The Deleuzian ‘Spatium’ and its ‘Becoming’

Eleni Lamprou

Thursday 29 January 2009

In this presentation, I wish to address the potential contribution of the ontology provided by the French process philosopher Gilles Deleuze to the study of technological change in organizations. In the first part of the presentation, the connections of Deleuze’s work to the work of Martin Heidegger are outlined, as I explore the concept of the ‘spatium’. The ‘spatium’ enfolds Deleuze’s understanding that the physical position of people and technological artefacts within space lends only a partial understanding of the manner in which they actually relate. In the second part, I seek to theorize the manner in which such relationships actually develop through elaborating on Deleuze’s conceptualization of ‘becoming’. Emphasis is placed on what is portrayed by Deleuze as the motor of the ‘becoming’ process, namely, the ‘event’. The ideas presented in this seminar are drawn from the theoretical framework of my doctoral dissertation.


AMCIS 2009: Socio-Technical Aspects of Information Systems

17 January 2009

Please see the call for papers for the 15th Americas Conference on Information systems (AMCIS 2009) on 6-9 August 2009 in San Francisco, which includes the mini-track “Socio-Technical Aspects of Information Systems” on the following topics:

  • Social informatics
  • The application of social theory to information systems (eg. Structuration Theory, Actor-Network Theory, StructurANTion Theory)
  • Human and organisational aspects of information Systems
  • Balancing of social and technical factors in ISD and IS
  • Critiques of the socio-technical approach
  • Case studies of socio-technical analysis of IS
  • Comparative studies (ie. between sectors, countries, cultures, etc.) of socio-technical analyses of IS
  • Comparative analyses of socio-technical change and IS
  • Global/local (or ‘glocal’) balance of IS within a socio-technical context

Deadline for papers: 20 February 2009.

A New Theory of Causation – lecture by Graham Harman

17 January 2009

Please see the abstract below for Graham Harman‘s forthcoming lecture in Paris on 26 January 2009.

Recent continental philosophy has devoted little attention to the theory of causation, which was so important in the history of metaphysics. Such philosophy remains obsessed with the relation between human and world- whether to posit an infinite gap between them, or to deny that the gap exists. The relation between inanimate objects such as cotton, fire, raindrops, and corn has been treated as a non-philosophical issue best left to the natural sciences. This lecture takes a different view. The world is not made of two distinct zones called human and world, but of countless objects inflicting blows on one another. Yet if we accept Heidegger’s insights concerning the withdrawal of beings into a dark, subterranean reality, the materialist view of causation as physical impact becomes impossible. We need a modified version of the occasionalist vision of two entities making contact only by way of a third. But instead of granting a causal monopoly to a single magical entity called God, occasional causation must be made secular and local- with all objects gaining the ghostly power to relate to others, even while remaining partly veiled from this relation. Reference will be made to kindred insights found in occasionalism, skepticism, and the late Scholastic position of Francisco Suarez.

Reensamblar lo social

17 January 2009

Apparently Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social has just come out recently in Spanish. It’s called Reensamblar lo social: Una introducción a la teoría del actor-red and it has been published by Ediciones Manantial in Buenos Aires. There is now also a Facebook group for BRUNO LATOUR EN ESPAÑOL.

The debate between Tarde and Durkheim

16 January 2009

It turns out that the text of the debate between Tarde and Durkheim (as enacted by Bruno Latour and Bruno Karsenti at Cambridge last year) has also been published in the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Here is the link and reference:

Vargas, E. V., B. Latour, et al. (2008). “The Debate between Tarde and Durkheim.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26: 761-77.

Acting in an Uncertain World – in English

16 January 2009

The English translation of the 2001 book by Michel Callon, Pierre Lascoumes and Yannick Barthe, Agir dans un monde incertain: Essai sur la democratie technique, is being published by The MIT Press in March 2009. The contents and downloadable sample chapters of Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy are available here.