Archive for June, 2011

The Prince and the Wolf released

30 June 2011

The transcript of the 5 February 2008 debate between Bruno Latour and Graham Harman at the LSE has now been released in book form in the UK and some other European countries, under the title: The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE. Here is the Amazon UK link, but overseas readers might also be interested in the free worldwide delivery service of The Book Depository. There are also some retailers on eBay that might be willing to ship further afield. The book has been published by Zero Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd.

Update [2-Jul-11]: I see Amazon UK have underestimated the demand for this book (tsk, tsk!) and now they’ve sold out and are back to pre-ordering. So here are a few other UK retailers, besides the aforementioned ones: WH Smith, Blackwell’s, and Tesco. If you’re based overseas, one good way to find a retailer might be to use the “Shopping” comparison feature in the main Google page of your country (if there is one). But chances are that retailers in other countries at this point are still getting their copies shipped from a UK wholesaler, in which case The Book Depository or eBay might still be quicker.

The book can be previewed at Google Books and Amazon.

Update no. 2: Prompted by Graham’s blog post I just checked and saw that Amazon USA has started selling it as well.

Update [9-Jul-11] There are now also Kindle editions on Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

Update [15-Jul-11] There is now also an EPUB-DRM eBook version.

The Prince and the Wolf contains the transcript of a debate which took place on 5th February 2008 at the London School of Economics (LSE) between the prominent French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher Bruno Latour and the Cairo-based American philosopher Graham Harman. The occasion for the debate was the impending publication of Harman’s book, Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics. During the discussion, Latour (the ‘Prince’) compared the professional philosophers who have pursued him over the years to a pack of wolves. The Prince and the Wolf is the story of what happens when the wolf catches up with the prince. Latour and Harman engage in brisk and witty conversation about questions that go to the heart of both metaphysics and research methodology: What are objects? How do they interact? And best how to study them?

Too often debates are sterile. Each participant lines up behind the other, each with their own point of view. All is on show but nothing much happens. This debate is different. Something happened.

Nigel Thrift, University of Warwick

 This is an especially welcome book. It is rare that one has the opportunity to be a near eye witness to a constructive and intellectually generous exchange of provocative ideas-in-the-making. Graham Harman, Bruno Latour and the assembled audience put on a great show. The exchange is fresh, laced with good humor, and informative. There is much to be learned here about empirical metaphysics—and collegiality.

Michael Flower, Portland State University

 Many crucial things get exposed and made explicit here. A key access point to the Latourian moment.

Fabian Muniesa, École des Mines de Paris

On blackboxing

21 June 2011

Christopher Kullenberg unpacking the black box of the survey as a research instrument:

Just like the anthrax bacilli needed to get in and out of Pasteur’s laboratory, as shown in the figure above, so is the case of questionnaires that the respondents need to fill out and return to the SOM-institute. The respondents are the microbes of society, and not until they are captured and counted, they can be transformed into ‘macrobes’ that speak in the name of society as a whole. Whereas Pasteur had to travel to the countryside to get his samples, the SOM-institute is utilizing mediating actors; the questionnaires are sent via the postal system, they are gathered by the Kinnmark contractor and turned into computer readable data, which is handed over to the institute and sent further to the researchers in the involved projects. If everything goes as planned, articles and reports can be written, news media can print articles covering the findings and circulate them back out to anyone who has an interest in a society described by the social sciences. To put it in Latourian vocabulary, to say something about macro-society, the SOM-institute needs to amplify a sample of micro-society through trials of strength.