Archive for October, 2011

Slavoj Žižek interview

28 October 2011

Slavoj Žižek on capitalism, communism and other such things, on 26 October 2011. Finally someone (Charlie Rose) who knows how to interview Žižek. Clue: just let the guy talk! (Hat tip Object-Oriented Philosophy.)

Latour on art and politics, in London

25 October 2011

Bruno Latour – “Waiting for Gaia: Composing the common world through arts and politics”

5.00pm, Monday 21 November 2011 (free entrance)

French Institute in the UK
17 Queensberry Place
London SW7 2DT

There is no single institution able to cover, oversee, dominate, manage, handle, or simply trace ecological issues of large shape and scope. Many issues are too intractable and too enmeshed in contradictory interests. We have problems, but we don’t have the public that goes with it. How could we imagine agreements amid so many entangled interests? Bruno Latour will review several attempts to tackle ecological problems by connecting the tools of scientific representation with those of arts and politics and present the program of Experimentation in Arts and Politics running at Sciences Po since September 2010.

Conflict of interest

22 October 2011

How can politicians be taken seriously as regulators of the economic system, if they have one eye on becoming employed by those they are supposed to regulate? Wouldn’t it make more sense to pay them a bit (or a lot) more but legally prevent them from going over to the other side once they “retire”?

Blair works on makeover for Kazakhstan – FT

Mr Blair, who runs a business called Tony Blair Associates, has a lucrative portfolio of advisory roles. Clients include JPMorgan Chase, the US bank, and Zurich Financial Services, the Swiss insurance group. He has advised the government of Kuwait, UI Energy Corporation, a South Korean oil firm, and Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi investment fund.

Seminar series on The Prince and the Wolf

21 October 2011

I heard it through the grapevine that there will be a seminar series discussing The Prince and the Wolf at at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin. More details at the Art in the Contemporary World blog and A Little Tag End of the World blog, where apparently some of the discussion will be posted.

The Productivity of Intellectual Enmities

20 October 2011

A fascinating forthcoming lecture series on the role of intellectual enemies in STS organised by Michael Guggenheim at CSISP/Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London. Latour seems to be a popular enemy…

My Best Fiend: On the Productivity of Intellectual Enmities

Fiends are productive. They spark interest, they draw our energy, we care about them and they care about us. Why do we choose this fiend and not another? How does our own thinking depend on our fiends? What are the rules and methods of our own fiendish engagements and what are the scientific fruits of them?

All Lectures Tuesdays, 4.30-6pm, Richard Hoggart Building RHB 137

1st Nov.: Liz Moore (Goldsmiths): Reflections on the Genesis of Intellectual Fiends

8th Nov.: Harry Collins (Cardiff): Good and Bad Arguments. With Friends, Idiots and People Without Integrity

6th Dec.: David Oswell (Goldsmiths): Dances with Wolves: Latour, Machiavelli and Us

13th Dec.: Steve Fuller (Warwick): Bruno Latour: and Some Notes on Some Also Rans.

“My best fiend” is a lecture series, which invites scholars to reflect on their academic enemies (from movements: Marxism, to persons: Talcott Parsons, to disciplines: anthropology, to concepts: “the other”). The goal of the series is to investigate the productivity of intellectual enmities.

Science and Technology Studies has highlighted the productive role of controversies to produce epistemic objects and sort the world. Controversies align scholars with methods, theories and schools of thought, they produce orientation in otherwise confusing seas of research. But controversies also pigeonhole people into camps. They undeservedly identify complex research identities with schools and theories and create guilt-by-association. The lecture series is calling for an analysis of such constellations by the protagonists themselves.

Enemies are productive. They spark interest, they draw energy, people care about them and they care about us. Why else would people spend time denouncing this badly formulated concept of an esteemed colleague, decrying the neighbouring discipline that keeps misunderstanding the world, or keep on writing bad tempered footnotes about this mistaken theory — and thereby become complicit in this very unproductivity? Why do scholars choose this enemy and not another?

Enemies also often involuntarily direct ones thinking, researching and theorising. If an enemy posits /a/, people feel compelled to posit /b/. If she writes approvingly of /c/, we need to denounce it. An enemy can have more power over people’s thinking than they would probably like to have it. It is as if people are guided in their thinking not only from their research object, but by an unknown field of do’s and don’t’s, accumulated since the time of their studies, of where to go and look and where not to look.

The lecture series calls for analyzing the productivity of intellectual enemies. The speakers choose an enemy of their choice, and analyse his, her or its productivity for their own thinking, their research and their career. Doing so, they contribute to a new sociology of sociology. They revisit controversies and analyze them from within and beyond to engage in a sociological celebration of what they usually denounce.

Dr. Michael Guggenheim

The Hungarian Parliament

12 October 2011

Continuing on the Hungarian theme, keep an eye on the Installing (Social) Order blog, where Endre Dányi is promising to provide a preview of  his doctoral (STS) research on the Hungarian Parliament. The excerpts from his first post below give you an idea about his project and his plans for the guest-blogging.

Hungarian Parliament

Sociologists and anthropologists of science know a lot about laboratories, innovation centres, museums, design studios, hospitals, and the politics of related material practices, but curiously there’s hardly any STS work that focuses on explicitly political institutions. Perhaps the most notable exception is the thousand page long Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy catalogue, edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel.


I can’t say I immediately had a clear idea about what an STS-informed research of a parliament would look like, but I knew where it could take place. As someone who grew up in Hungary, I remembered that the parliament building in the centre of Budapest was once the largest (and arguably the most impressive) of its kind – quite bizarre for a country that is not only small, but in most political scientists’ view also counts as a ‘new democracy’. Either they are right, I thought, and then props really don’t matter in politics, or the idea that liberal democracy in Central and Eastern Europe fell from the sky in 1989 – like in Peter Sloterdijk’s thought experiment  – needs to be rethought.

My plan in this space within the Installing (Social) Order blog is not to provide a summary of the dissertation, but to offer some sort of a problem map. First I will focus on architecture, and discuss what we can learn about liberal democracy if we concentrate on the construction of the Hungarian parliament building in the end of the 19th century. Then I will briefly recount what happened to this building (and the political reality it was supposed to hold together) in the 20th century in order to highlight some tensions related to the definition of a political community. I’ll then concentrate on the parliament’s role in the current political regime – the Republic of Hungary – and examine some of the most important aspects of the legislative process. After this, I’ll (re-)introduce my MP friend and summarise what I’ve learned from him about political representation, which sometimes takes place in the parliament building, but some other times in TV studios, party congresses, street demonstrations, and various other places. All of my stories will be full of political objects, but the picture wouldn’t be complete if I remained silent about political subjects.