Archive for February, 2012

ANT goes on holiday

28 February 2012

Seminar on actor-network theory and tourism at Wageningen University.

19 April 2012, 13:00-17:00, Leeuwenborgh C62, Wageningen University

Tourism: Ordering, Materiality and Multiplicity

The recent emerging of ANT in tourism studies is linked to a growing interest in understanding tourism as a relational set of practices connecting culture, nature and technology in multifarious ways. Despite the widespread application of ANT across the social sciences no book has dealt with the practical and theoretical implications of using ANT in tourism research.

ANT and Tourism, edited by René van der Duim, Carina Ren and Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, is the first book to critically engage with the use of ANT in tourism studies. The Cultural Geography Group at Wageningen University has thus organised an international seminar in order to present the book and its main tenets to the wider public.


13.00 hrs.     Tourismscapes 2.0
Opening by René van der Duim, Wageningen University

13.20 hrs.     Relational entrepreneurship
Lecture by Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, University of Iceland

13.40 hrs.     Oscypek cheese and Ontological Politics
Lecture by Carina Ren, Aalborg University

Coffee/tea break

14.30 hrs.       Discussion
Chair: Claudio Minca, Wageningen University

Coffee/tea break

16.00 hrs.       Wageningen Geography Lecture
Experiencing the Enchantment of Place and Mobility
Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt

Semiotics of Subjectivities

24 February 2012

XL Congress of the Italian Association for Semiotic Studies, Turin, September 28-30, 2012. Keynote speakers:

  • Maurizio Bettini
  • Omar Calabrese
  • Jean-Claude Coquet
  • Umberto Eco
  • Paolo Fabbri
  • Bruno Latour
  • Giovanni Manetti
  • Peter Sloterdijk
  • Patrizia Violi

Policy meets ANT workshop

24 February 2012

Call for participation
Policy meets Actor Network Theory: doctoral student workshop

Policy has become “increasingly central concept and instrument in the organization of contemporary societies [and] now impinges on all areas of life so that it’s virtually impossible to ignore or to escape its influence” (Wedel et al 2005: 3). It has been closely associated with the political in terms of decision making, yet it stems into specific domains for setting goals and means of achieving them.  Policy occupies space at the crossroads – for some it is at the overlap of authority, expertise and order. For others it merges politics, science, technology, and society. And for yet others, policy is associated with administration, management and organization. It conveys deliberation and purpose, competence as well as rationality.

The analytical approach known as Actor Network Theory (ANT), born in science and technology studies, is notoriously known for not being a theory in the strict sense of a testable, predictive and explanatory model. Starting as a negative reading of what is the world enacted in much of social theory ANT offers a set of ontological considerations in the larger scheme of things and associated methodological propositions at the level of research design. In the 1990’s, ANT inspired analytics have also ventured to studies of policy via the governmentality studies and their interest in mentalities as well as technologies of government and in the action at a distance. However, governmentality studies today as a mainstream body within policy analysis are more associated with the former interest in ‘mentalities’ of governing.

Our workshop wants to build on these traditions. We want to ask how ANT may enhance our understanding of policy beyond the rationalist vs. social constructionist debate which has marked policy analysis. This question also implies interest in innovative research design for studying policy which would move beyond the traditional commitments to either global or local scaling of research. We want to engage with some of the key propositions of ANT as deployed in our own empirical analyses of complex realities in the making. Here we refer to a series of methodological commitments applied to the study of policy worlds:

  • principle of symmetry as a way of working in the same analytical register with both success and failure of a policy or a reform
  • study of translations as a way of working with the complexities of new and often unexpected realities crafted in policy process and implementation
  • study of socio-material arrangements with a revised concept of agency which allows for materialities to have effects rather than merely index the social and the symbolic; the question extends to what materialities are engaged in holding policy worlds together
  • study of ‘ontological politics’ as a way of working with non-coherent realities and their co-ordination,
  • question of ‘performativity’ as a way to rearticulate analytical focus on the ‘existence’ of policy worlds in the making

Each participant will have 60 minutes allocated to their work. During this hour they will introduce their paper, providing an overview of the content and argument (approximately 10-15 minutes), followed by critical comments and questions from a predefined main discussant (approximately 10-15 minutes). The author then has a ‘right of reply’ (approx. 10 minutes), before general discussion of the paper (approx. 20-25 minutes).

All papers (max 8000 words) will be electronically circulated to all participants two weeks in advance of the workshop. Participants are required to read the papers. Organizers will name main discussants for each paper who will prepare a detailed reflection of the allocated paper.

PhD students interested in joining the workshop should email an abstract (500 words) to the organizers which will show how their research project fits within the parameters of the workshop and provide a brief summary of their paper.  Selected participants will be asked to submit full paper two weeks prior to the event for circulation. Deadline for abstract submission is 30 March 2012.

Workshop will be held on 21 and 22 June 2012.

Venue for the workshop will be confirmed. Currently, funding is being raised to support workshop participants in attending. There will be no attendance fee.

This workshop is part of University of Kent, South-East ESRC Doctoral Training Centre Advance Training in sociology of policy.


David Kocman, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent,
Aleksandra Lis, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University,


21 February 2012

Charisma among others means ‘a special magnetic charm or appeal’ according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and it comes from the Greek kharisma, ‘divine favour’ or ‘gift,’ from kharizesthai, ‘to favour,’ which comes from kharis, ‘grace’ or ‘favour.’ And now it is also the name of a new research network focusing on interdisciplinary consumer market studies. See the announcement below. You may notice that a lot of the people involved have been active at the intersection of economic sociology and science and technology studies (STS), which one of the organisers once described as the “‘new’ new economic sociology.’


We are pleased to announce that Charisma: Consumer Market Studies, a new online research network, is now live and can be accessed here:

In collaboration with CRESC and the Journal of Cultural Economy, the site acts as a resource hub and network for researchers interested in consumer markets. It features a range of material including news items, events and announcements, commentaries and working papers as well as photo essays and data visualisations. At the moment, this includes recent posts from Franck Cochoy, Bill Maurer, Paul Langley, Linsey McGoey, Daniel Weinbren, and Liz McFall.

Charisma takes a robustly interdisciplinary approach to consumer market research since we believe that properly understanding the mix of devices and desires that drive markets means being open to experimental, visual, digital, as well as more traditional techniques, methods, theories and perspectives.

We invite interested researchers to participate and contribute to the site. Charisma is designed to allow the production of content amongst a diverse range of participants. Members of the research network will be issued with an account enabling them to upload content ranging from publication or conference announcements, photos, blog entries or research briefs.

With this in mind, if you or your colleagues are interested in being part of this research network, please send a request to

Please feel free to distribute this email widely.

All the best,

The Charisma Team

Joe Deville, Goldsmiths, University of London
Liz McFall, Open University

Follow us on Twitter:
Join our mailing list: (sign up at the bottom of the page)

A nice ANT story

20 February 2012

Enemies of ANT should beware of their opponents’ collective memory: “Ants remember their enemy’s scent.”

Ant colonies – one of nature’s most ancient and efficient societies – are able to form a “collective memory” of their enemies, say scientists. When one ant fights with an intruder from another colony it retains that enemy’s odour: passing it on to the rest of the colony. (…) Lead researcher Prof Mark Elgar explained to BBC Nature that all of the ants in the colony were able to draw on the experience of one worker. He described this as collective or “corporate wisdom”.

Isabelle Stengers on progress

20 February 2012

Isabelle Stengers visits Halifax, Canada for a series of conversations as part of the “To See Where it Takes Us” series during March 5-9, 2012. Her keynote will be streamed live.

Professor Stengers’ keynote address will examine sciences and the consequences of what has been called progress. Is it possible to reclaim modern practices, to have them actively taking into account what they felt entitled to ignore in the name of progress? Or else, can they learn to “think with” instead of define and judge?

Toscano on capitalism and panorama

18 February 2012

Alberto Toscano’s forthcoming lecture at Simon Fraser University on 6 March 2012, among others deploying Latour’s concept of the ‘panorama:’

Capitalism and Panorama: Staging Totality in Social Theory and Art

Can, or should, social theory try to ’see it whole’? This paper addresses the representation of social totality along theoretical, political and aesthetic axes. It considers the demand for orienting and totalizing representations of capitalist society present in the programmatic notions of ’sociological imagination’ in C. Wright Mills and ‘cognitive mapping’ in Fredric Jameson. Mills and Jameson converge on the need to mediate personal experience and systemic constraints, knowledge and action, while underscoring the political urgency and epistemic difficulty of such a demand.

This lecture will contrast these perspectives with the repudiation of a sociology of totality in the actor-network theory of Bruno Latour. It will explore this contrast through the ‘panorama’, both as a theoretical metaphor and as the object of different visual and artistic practices.

Bio: Alberto Toscano teaches in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism (2010) and The Theatre of Production (2006). He is an editor of the journal “Historical Materialism”.

Когда вещи продолжают тренировки

14 February 2012

My Russian is quite rusty, so I didn’t manage to decipher it all, but this short review of The Prince and the Wolf in the Russian Journal seems to be saying some rather nice things about the book. I think the title of the article translates as “When things continue to act.”

Enemies like Bruno Latour

8 February 2012

Two recordings of talks in the “My Best Fiend” series at Goldsmiths discussing Latour (among others), by David Oswell from Goldsmiths and Steve Fuller from the University of Warwick, have now been made available at the CSISP blog.

  • David Oswell: ‘Dances with Wolves: Latour, Machiavelli and Us’ (December 6th, 2011) [The first part of the title in fact alludes to the “wolf” metaphor that emerged from The Prince and the Wolf debate]
  • Steve Fuller: ‘Bruno Latour and Some Notes on Some Also Rans’ (December 13th, 2011)

Picture Editing After Bataille

8 February 2012

In reference to my earlier post on Critical Dictionary, here is the invitation to the show and a conversation with the editor:

Join us on Wednesday 15 February, 6.30-8pm for the next in our series of AfterWORK events:

One Plus One: Picture Editing After Bataille
David Evans and Patrizia di Bello In Conversation

David Evans and Patrizia di Bello will discuss radical picture editing by historical figures such as Georges Bataille, Bertolt Brecht and Guy Debord, as well as contemporary resonances. The event is held in conjunction with the exhibition Critical Dictionary, which will be open for viewing prior to the discussion start time.

David Evans teaches at the Arts University College at Bournemouth. He is the editor of the anthology Critical Dictionary (Black Dog Publishing, 2011) and curator of the exhibition by the same name currently showing at WORK. Patrizia di Bello teaches at Birkbeck College and is the co-editor of The Photobook (IB Taurus, 2012).

The event is free but seating will be limited. RSVP to to reserve a place.