Archive for the ‘Actor-network-theory’ Category

Graham Harman: Bruno Latour – Reassembling the Political

4 November 2014

Just published: Graham Harman: Bruno Latour – Reassembling the Political (Pluto Press)Bruno Latour: Reassembling the Political

Bruno Latour, the French sociologist, anthropologist and long-established superstar in the social sciences is revisited in this pioneering account of his ever-evolving political philosophy. Breaking from the traditional focus on his metaphysics, most recently seen in Harman’s book Prince of Networks (2009), the author instead begins with the Hobbesian and even Machiavellian underpinnings of Latour’s early period and encountering his shift towards Carl Schmitt and finishing with his final development into the Lippmann / Dewey debate. Harman brings these twists and turns into sharp focus in terms of Latour’s personal political thinking.

Along with Latour’s most important articles on political themes, the book chooses three works as exemplary of the distinct periods in Latour’s thinking: The Pasteurization of France, Politics of Nature, and the recently published An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence, as his conception of politics evolves from a global power struggle between individuals, to the fabrication of fragile parliamentary networks, to just one mode of existence among many others.

Graham Harman is Distinguished University Professor at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He is the author of numerous books, including Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (2002) and Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (2009).

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Annemarie Mol: “Relative realities, theoretical sensitivities”

4 November 2014

Annemarie Mol: “Relative realities, theoretical sensitivities”

CfP: IJANTTI special issue on 3D Printing, Space Entrepreneurship and Advanced Battery Technology as Challenges to ANT

23 April 2014

Calls for Papers (special): International Journal of Actor-Network Theory and Technological Innovation (IJANTTI)

Special Issue On: The Breakthroughs in Additive manufacturing (3D Printing), Space Entrepreneurship and Advanced Battery Technology as Challenges to Actor-Network Theory

Submission Due Date
9/15/2014

Guest Editors
Ivan Tchalakov, University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Recommended Topics
Topics to be discussed in this special issue include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • ANT (and related approaches) based case studies of additive (3D) manufacturing: key innovations and their actor-networks – the complex web between 3D computer aided design (3D scanning), 3D printing equipment and production of appropriate material to be used by the equipment; of emerging consumer oriented business models; 3D printing and biotechnologies – new perspectives in implant and replacement organs manufacturing and related legal, ethical, psychological and other issues.
  • ANT (and related approaches) based case studies of space entrepreneurs, their companies and technologies they developed, and the emerging new ‘actor-world’ (space tourism, asteroid mining, colonization of Mars, Moon, and asteroids);
  • ANT (and related approaches) based case studies on electric vehicles, advanced battery technology, smart energy storage and related issues;
  • ANT-based methodology for responsible innovation: emerging technologies, divergent developmental paths, and possible socio-technical scenarios
  • Elaboration and refinement of ANT key notions (heterogeneous community, sociotechnical network, script, flux, translation, intermediary and mediator, etc.) To better understand:
    • Transition from large scale corporate-based innovation to smaller scale entrepreneurial-based innovation and related technological change (as exemplified by the case with space industry
    • Transition from subtractive (cutting and drilling) to additive (3D) manufacturing and reconfiguration of related techno-economic networks, including the changes in underlying notions of ‘design’, of ‘materiality’ and ‘object’, etc.
    • The possible disruptive changes in century old patterns of automotive industry and electric power
  • Philosophical and methodological critique of ANT inspired by or relevant to the new developments in additive manufacturing, space industry, green energy production and use, etc. Essays examining the potential of some resent trends in philosophy are highly appreciated (such as Speculative Realism movement and especially G. Harman object-oriented ontology, Karen Barad’s agential realism, Isabelle Stengers’ Cosmopolitics, non-orthodox reading of Aristotelian Metaphysics of Bradshaw, Beere and some others, philosophy of Alain Badiou, etc).

2013 GAD Distinguished Lecture: Bruno Latour

28 January 2014

This year the General Anthropology Division (GAD) welcomed Bruno Latour as its Distinguished Lecturer at the 112th Annual Meeting of the AAA. Latour’s talk, “What Is the Recommended Dose of Ontological Pluralism for a Safe Anthropological Diplomacy?” was recorded on video.

h/t  Chris Furlow.

Harman on “Early and Late Latour,” Oregon State, 25-Feb-2014

5 October 2013

Graham Harman: “Early and Late Latour,” Critical Questions Lecture Series, School of Writing, Literature, and Film, Oregon State University, 25th February 2014

The French theorist Bruno Latour continues to expand his already extensive influence in the social sciences, and is slowly emerging as a force to reckon with in philosophy as well. Latour has long been known for his actor-network theory. But beginning in 1987, Latour worked in secret on a parallel philosophical system in which networks are just one among fourteen separate modes of existence. This secret system was recently unveiled in Latour’s new book An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence (Harvard University Press, 2013). This lecture will examine the principal features of Latour’s new system and ask whether Latour’s proclaimed philosophical shift is significant in its own right, and also whether it might have new implications for the various fields that take inspiration from Latour’s work.

Review of the ‘two Princes’

29 September 2013

Nigel Clark’s review of Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics and The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE in the August 2013 issue of Contemporary Political Theory [PDF].

On Latour and Simondon’s Mode of Existence – fragments of a fictional dialogue yet to come

4 February 2013

On Latour and Simondon’s Mode of Existence – fragments of a fictional dialogue yet to come.

Yuk Hui, intervention given in a Workshop on Latour@ Denkerei, 28 Jan,2013

This intervention from its outset searches a dialogue between Simondon and Latour, a fictional dialogue, that nevertheless exists though it hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened, or should I say it was once about to happen, when Latour praised Simondon’s Du Mode d’existence des objets techniques, and commented that it is a work that didn’t yet find its successor. But it does exist, this fictional dialogue, or at least we can talk about its mode of existence if you prefer since being fictional is also a mode of existence. We cannot draw a squared circle but we can think of a squared circle, it has meanings, this was an example given by Husserl as a critique of Frege’s logism. The secrete philosopher of Bruno Latour, Étienne Souriau hold a similar idea in his Les différents Modes d’existence. A fictional object or character doesn’t occur in time and space as a physical object, or a historical event, but it does exists in works, in the socio-psychological life and the imagination of their readers and witness. Modes of existence is always plural, it doesn’t follow the rule of contradiction, it is rather key to what Latour calls ontological pluralism.

The Device: The Social Life of Method

20 December 2012

Keep an eye out for this forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Cultural Economy, edited by John Law and Evelyn Ruppert: “The Device: The Social Life of Method.” Two articles seem to be already available: “Provocative Containment and the Drift of Social-Scientific Realism” by Javier Lezaun, Fabian Muniesa & Signe Vikkelsø, and  “Anticipating Failure: Transparency devices and their effects” by Penny Harvey, Madeleine Reeves & Evelyn Ruppert.

Object-oriented sociology and the material turn

14 December 2012

Pierides, D. and Woodman, D. (2012). “Object-Oriented Sociology and Organizing in the Face of Emergency: Bruno Latour, Graham Harman and the Material Turn.” The British Journal of Sociology, 63 (4): 662-679. H/t Ecology without Nature.

This paper explores the material turn in sociology and the tools it provides for understanding organizational problems highlighted by the Royal Commission into the 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires during which 173 people died in the Australian State of Victoria. Often inspired by Bruno Latour’s material-semiotic sociology of associations, organization scholars employing these tools focus on the messy details of organization otherwise overlooked by approaches assuming a macroscopic frame of analysis. In Latour’s approach no object is reducible to something else – such as nature, the social, or atoms – it is instead a stabilized set of relations. A Latourian approach allows us to highlight how the Royal Commission and macroscopic models of organizing do unwitting damage to their objects of inquiry by purifying the ‘natural’ from the ‘social’. Performative elements in their schemas are mistaken for descriptive ones. However, a long standing critique of this approach claims that it becomes its own form of reduction, to nothing but relations. Graham Harman, in his object-oriented philosophy develops this critique by showing that a ‘relationist’ metaphysics cannot properly accommodate the capacity of ‘objects’ to cause or mediate surprises. Through our case of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, we argue that a purely relational model of objects loosens a productive tension between the structural and ephemeral that drives sociological analysis. By drawing on elements of Harman’s ontology of objects we argue that it is necessary for material-semiotic sociology to retain a central place for the emergence of sociological objects.

Henning Schmidgen on the early Latour

14 November 2012

This is one of the most informative articles I’ve read on the early influences on Latour’s work. The role of biblical exegesis is particularly interesting. And even the question of the Heidegger-Latour connection gets a little mention, which was the original impetus behind the reading group that launched this blog. Apparently the link is Latour’s philosophy teacher,  André Malet, who was into Bultmann, Heidegger’s one-time colleague, debating partner and friend.

Schmidgen, H. (2012). “The Materiality of Things? Bruno Latour, Charles Péguy, and the History of Science.” History of the Human Sciences.

This article sheds new light on Bruno Latour’s sociology of science and technology by looking at his early study of the French writer, philosopher and editor Charles Péguy (1873–1914).

In the early 1970s, Latour engaged in a comparative study of Péguy’s Clio and the four gospels of the New Testament. His 1973 contribution to a Péguy colloquium (published in 1977) offers rich insights into his interest in questions of time, history, tradition and translation. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, Latour reads Clio as spelling out and illustrating the following argument: ‘Repetition is a machine to produce differences with identity’.

However, in contrast to Deleuze’s work (together with Félix Guattari) on the materiality of machines, or assemblages [agencements], Latour emphasizes the semiotic aspects of the repetition/difference process. As in Péguy, the main model for this process is the Roman Catholic tradition of religious events.

The article argues that it is this reading of Péguy and Latour’s early interest in biblical exegesis that inspired much of Latour’s later work. In Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) and The Pasteurization of France (1988) in particular, problems of exegesis and tradition provide important stimuli for the analysis of scientific texts.

In this context, Latour gradually transforms the question of tradition into the problem of reference. In a first step, he shifts the event that is transmitted and translated from the temporal dimension (i.e. the past) to the spatial (i.e. from one part of the laboratory to another). It is only in a second step that Latour resituates scientific events in time.

As facts they are ‘constructed’ but nevertheless ‘irreducible’. They result, according to Latour, from the tradition of the future. As a consequence, the Latourian approach to science distances itself from the materialism of Deleuze and other innovative theoreticians.