Archive for the ‘STS’ Category

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

New blog on anthropology of science and technology

10 November 2012

A new blog to bookmark on the anthropology of science and technology from the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing (CASTAC) at the American Anthropological Association. Kicked off with an inaugural post by the editor, Patricia G. Lange, and a post by Lucy Suchman on the military-industrial-media-entertainment network.

Bruno Latour’s Gifford Lectures, February 2013

29 October 2012


[brochure PDF]

Facing Gaia: A new inquiry into Natural Religion

A series of six lectures by Bruno Latour, Professor at Sciences Po, Paris

18 February to 28 February 2013 at 5.30pm

All lectures take place in St Cecilia’s Hall, Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh, at 5.30pm.

The Gifford Lectures

The Gifford Lectures, which are held at each of the four ancient Scottish universities, were established under the will of Adam Lord Gifford, a Senator of the College of Justice, who died in 1887. For over a hundred years, the Lectures have enabled a most notable field of scholars to contribute to the advancement of philosophical and theological thought. Past Gifford Lectures at Edinburgh include William James, John Dewey, Albert Schweitzer, Niels Bohr, Arnold Toynbee, Sir John Eccles, Iris Murdoch, Charles Taylor, Michael Ignatieff, Wentzel van Huyssteen, Noam Chomsky, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Simon Conway Morris, Alexander Nehamas, Robert Veatch, Jonathan Sacks, Diana Eck, Mike Gazzaniga, Terry Eagleton, Patricia Churchland.


Facing Gaia. A new inquiry into Natural Religion

There could be no better theme for a lecture series on natural religion than that of Gaia, this puzzling figure that has emerged recently in public discourse from Earth science as well as from many activist and spiritual movements. The problem is that the expression of “natural religion” is somewhat of a pleonasm, since Western definitions of nature borrow so much from theology. The set of lectures attempts to decipher the face of Gaia in order to redistribute the notions that have been packed too tightly into the composite notion of ‘’natural religion’’.

18 February 2013 – Once out of nature

The set of questions around the two words “natural religion” implies that only the second word is a coded and thus a disputed category, the first one being taken for granted and uncoded. But if it can be shown that the very notion of nature is a theological construct, we might be able to shift the problem somewhat: the question becomes not to save or resurrect “natural religion”, but to dispose of it by offering at last a ‘’secular’’ version of nature and of the natural sciences.

19 February 2013 – A question of agency

Once nature and the natural sciences are fully “secularized”, it becomes possible to revisit also the category of the supernatural. Then, a different landscape opens which can be navigated through an attention to agencies and their composition. Such a freedom of movement allows the use of the rich anthropological literature to compare the ways different “collectives” manage to assemble and totalize different sets of agencies.

21 February 2013 – Gaia’s puzzling features

In spite of its reputation, Gaia is not half science and half religion. It offers a much more enigmatic set of features that redistribute agencies in all possible ways (as does this most enigmatic term “anthropocene”). Thus, it is far from clear what it means to “face Gaia”. It might require us to envisage it very differently from the various divinities of the past (including those derived from nature).

25 February 2013 – How many globes can be held on an angel’s fingertip?

The paradox of what is called “globalization” is that there is no “global globe” to hold the multitude of concerns that have to be assembled to replace the “politics of nature” of former periods. What are the instruments —always local and partial— that are sensitive enough to Gaia’s components for the limited technical and emotional apparatus of assembled humans?

26 February 2013 – War of the worlds: humans against earthlings

In the absence of any Providence to settle matters of concern – and thus of nature, its barely disguised substitute – no peaceful resolution of Gaian conflicts can be expected. The recognition of a state of war and the designation of enmity is indispensable if a state of diplomacy is later to be reached. Under the pressure of so many apocalyptic injunctions, what is a Gaian political theology?

28 February 2013 – St Christopher you’re not strong enough to carry the world!

Although the resources of “paganism”, New Age cults, renewed themes of Christian incarnation, and process theology offer rich mythological insights, it is not clear whether they are at the scale and sensitivity needed to face Gaia. A search for collective rituals should begin with works of art and experiments able to explore in sufficient detail the scientific and political composition of the common world.

Korean paper on Heidegger-Latour theme

5 October 2012

Lee, June-Seok (2012). “Understanding the Identity of a Disaster through STS.” Korean Association of Science and Technology Studies. 12 (1): 45-78.

한국어 초록

재난이란 무엇인가. 그리고 과학기술학은 이에 대해 무엇을 말해주는가. 재난에 대해서는 여러 정의가 있을 수 있지만, 이 글에서는 주체가 예비한 기술사회시스템 행위자-연결망이 그에 부딪혀 오는 힘과의 겨루기(trial of strength)에서 밀려 와해되는 경우를 상정한다. 이러한 상태는 결절(結節, punctualization)된 행위자-연결망이 해리(解離, depunctualization)되는 과정이며, 존재자의 용재성(用在性, Zuhandenheit, readiness-to-hand)이 뒤로 물러가고 도구의 전재성(前在性, Vorhandenheit, presentness-at-hand)이 현존재 앞에 드러나는 과정이다. 재난을 사례연구로 하여 이 글은 선행연구들이 보지 못했던 라투르 존재론과 하이데거 기술관의 겹침을 살펴볼 것이다. 이러한 과학기술학적 접근은 기술과학과 자연-사회의 아상블라쥬를 해석하는 새로운 이론적 프레임을 우리에게 제공할 수 있을 것이다.


What is a disaster? And what can science and technology studies tell us about it? There might be numerous definitions about disaster. In this article, we will posit that disaster is an incident when sociotechnical system actor-network broke down against the other force in their “trial of strength”. This is a process that punctualized actor-network is depunctualized, and a status that readiness-to-hand of Being recedes while presentness-at-hand of tool-being comes forward. Using the concept of disaster as a case study, we will consider how Latourian ontology overlaps with Heideggerian philosophy of technology. This STS approach which hasn’t been previously studied might provide us with new theoretical framework that enables us to construe the assemblage of technoscience and nature-society in the field of PUS or NPSS.

CfP: Social Studies of Management and Organizations

19 September 2012

See below:

Dear All,

We are organizing a PhD conference with a track on Social Studies of Management and Organizations.

The idea of this track/theme is to received papers that builds on Science and Technology Studies and advance the study of management and organizational topics from this perspectives. For example we expect contributions that use the concepts like ‘market devices’/’organising devices’ and the STS oriented literature on objects. A second example is papers that use conceptualizations like performativity and reflexivity and their impact on the management and organization studies. Finally, we also welcome other actor-network approaches; anthropological, ethnographic and sociological studies of organisations that open up common questions that had been visited (or not) by the broad range literature on science and technology studies.

This track is part of day event in the broad field of Critical Management Studies named: ‘Who and what is management for?’


Daniel Neyland, Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University Management School

Daniel Neyland’s research interests cover governance, accountability and ethics in the form of science, technology and organization. He draws on ethnomethodology, science and technology studies, constructivism, Actor-Network Theory and the recent STS turn to markets.

Javier Lezaun, Lecturer, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Javier Lezaun’s research interests focus on the legal, political and social dimensions of techno-scientific change, particularly in the life sciences and biomedicine.

The University of Leicester School of Management is running a one day BSA postgraduate conference on 10 January 2013.

Abstracts of 300-500 words should be submitted to by 8 October 2012, or on the BSA website, including the name and date of the conference. Conference papers should be 6,000 – 8,000 words.

Please download a call for abstracts here.


10 January 2013.


Please contact Juan Espinosa Cristia for more information


The conference is broadly themed around Critical Management, based on the multi-disciplinary ‘Leicester Model’ that draws from across the social sciences. Unlike mainstream Business Schools, at Leicester we are concerned with challenging the status quo and giving voice to those individuals, groups and societies who are traditionally overlooked in global management.

Costs and Travel Grants

The costs to BSA members is £10, and £25 to non-BSA members. This money goes towards lunch and drinks for all attendees.

Thanks to generous support from the Graduate Dean at the University of Leicester, we can also offer up to ten PhD travel grants of £50 each. To apply for these please include a short grant application statement (50-100 words) stating your travel costs and needs.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions of any type.

Juan Espinosa C.

Organization Team
School of Management
University of Leicester