Archive for the ‘Books’ 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).

Advertisements

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].

Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality, by Timothy Morton

14 February 2013

Timothy Morton’s new book, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality, is the latest in the New Metaphysics series at Open Humanities Press. The open access HTML version is now available here. PDF and paperback to follow.

Object-oriented ontology offers a startlingly fresh way to think about causality that takes into account developments in physics since 1900. Causality, argues, OOO, is aesthetic. In this book, Timothy Morton explores what it means to say that a thing has come into being, that it is persisting, and that it has ended. Drawing from examples in physics, biology, ecology, art, literature and music, Morton demonstrates the counterintuitive yet elegant explanatory power of OOO for thinking causality.

Cover art by Tammy Lu, cover design by Katherine Gillieson.

Realist Magic - Timothy Morton

LARB review of Latour’s Enquête sur les modes d’existence

5 January 2013

By Stephen Muecke: “‘I am what I am attached to’: On Bruno Latour’s ‘Inquiry into the Modes of Existence.'” Los Angeles Review of Books, December 28th, 2012.

His new book, Enquête sur les modes d’existence (An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence), sold out of the first print run of 4,000 in 10 days. But it is not just a book; it is also a project in interactive metaphysics. In other words, a book, plus website. (Unheard of! A French philosopher using the Internet!) Intrigued readers of Latour’s text can go online and find themselves drawn into a collaborative project (so far only in French, but the English web pages will be up soon, and Catherine Porter’s translation of the book will be out from Harvard University Press in the spring). Simply register on the site, and you are free to offer commentary, counter-examples, snippets of movies, images, whatever. You may possibly graduate to the status of co-researcher, and even be invited to a workshop in Paris down the line, to thrash out the thornier problems.

Gilbert Simondon’s transindividual

17 November 2012

Speaking of Henning Schmidgen, I encountered his name once again this week: this time on the back cover of an interesting new book (new in English, that is), Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual by Muriel Combes (translated by Thomas LaMarre). There is also a substantial afterword by LaMarre entitled “Humans and Machines.”

Here is what Schmidgen says about the book:

This book is highly recommended to all of those wishing to better understand the radical importance of Simondon in current debates about networked affectivity, nonhuman agency, and the politics of nature. (…) Combes constructs an innovative form of multiplied materialism.”

Other endorsers include Eric Alliez:

Published in 1999, Muriel Combes’s succinct book remains to this day the best introduction to Simondon’s opus. But it does better: it introduces through Simondon the most contemporary stakes of an ontology of relation turned toward a politics of individuation.

…and Robert Mitchell:

With remarkable concision, Combes covers the entirety of Simondon’s work, from his breathtaking theory of individuation to his philosophy of technology and technical objects, while LaMarre’s afterword helpfully links Combes’s account of Simondon to the work of authors such as Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Bruno Latour, and Isabelle Stengers.

…and Didier Debaise:

Gilbert Simondon was one of the most ambitious and inventive thinkers of twentieth-century philosophy but has for too long been unjustly neglected. Muriel Combes’s insightful book unquestionably ends this phase.

Review of Sloterdijk’s “You Must Change Your Life”

10 November 2012

I feel a bit uneasy linking to the New Humanist, produced by the Rationalist Association, as their iconoclastic zeal doesn’t appeal to me, however I found this review of Peter Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life by Jonathan Rée interesting.

Material Participation

10 November 2012

Check out Noortje Marres’s new book, Material Participation: Technology, the Environment and Everyday Publics from Palgrave. A recording of the book launch (involving Javier Lezaun (Oxford), Celia Lury (Warwick), Alex Wilkie (Goldsmiths) and moderated by Monika Krause (Goldsmiths)) can be listened to here.

What is the role of things in political participation? This innovative book develops a fresh perspective on everyday forms of engagement, one that foregrounds the role of objects, technology and settings in public involvement. It makes a distinctive contribution to debates about the role of things in democracy, but it also offers empirical analyses of contemporary devices of participation, such as smart meters, demonstrational eco-homes and sustainable living gadgets.

Make suggestions for 3rd STS Handbook

19 September 2012

The third volume of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies is in the making. You can make suggestions regarding the content here.

In the paragraphs below, we lay out the overall vision for the third volume of the STS Handbook and suggestive table of contents that we proposed to the 4S Council in 2011. We welcome your feedback on this vision and your suggestions for improving it. Please provide your feedback below in the comments. We expect to release a separate Call for Chapter Proposals in the coming months. Please provide your feedback by Jan. 1, 2013.

Somewhere in Russia…

14 July 2012

…to be more precise, at the Piotrovsky Bookstore in Perm, books on speculative realism, ANT and the like are part of the effort to restore “book culture to its height during the Soviet times.” Hat tip OOP.

New book: Das Netzwerk von Bruno Latour

14 July 2012

Das Netzwerk von Bruno Latour: Die Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie zwischen Science & Technology Studies und poststrukturalistischer Soziologie (June 2012) by Matthias Wieser (can be previewed electronically here).

Die Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie (ANT) ist durch die Schriften von Bruno Latour der vielleicht umstrittenste und zugleich fruchtbarste Ansatz in den zeitgenössischen Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaften. Dieses Buch zeigt, dass die theoretischen Potenziale des Denkens Latours und der ANT weit über die Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung hinaus in der allgemeinen Sozialtheorie liegen. Matthias Wieser rekonstruiert die ANT theoriehistorisch im Rahmen der Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung und zeigt zudem, wie sie sich auch sozialtheoretisch als poststrukturalistische Soziologie verstehen lässt. Darüber hinaus werden weiter reichende Anschlüsse und Bezüge zwischen ANT und Medienforschung, Theorien sozialer Praktiken und Cultural Studies herausgestellt.

Matthias Wieser (Dr. phil.) ist Postdoc-Assistent am Institut für Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft der Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt.