Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Landscapes of Terminal Capitalism, Aporias of Responsibility, Myra J. Hird

17 June 2014

Chapter 10: Learning to Respect Appearances

16 June 2014

AIME Research Group

Title: Habitual Care:  The Mode of Existence of Habit and its Politics

Author: John W. Wright. Point Loma Nazarene University.

Chapter 10, “Respecting the Appearances,” engages “the question of essence” (p. 264).   Why does it arise?  Latour argues that the question of essence gestures toward another “mode of existence.”  This mode of existence, later in the chapter named “habit,” accounts “for the apparent continuity of action” amid a world characterized by fissures, gaps, and heterogeneities – in other words, a net.  Latour calls “habit” the “most indispensable” mode of existence:  “the one that takes up 99 percent of our lives, the one without which we could not exist” (AIME, p. 264).  As Latour works through the chapter, he clarifies his overall ontology and the deeper ethical/political concerns that fuel the plasma that circulates unseen underneath his ontology.

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Latour -How to Better Register the Agency of Things, Semiotics

15 June 2014

pt 2 on Ontology

Bernard Stiegler’s Automatic Society

14 June 2014

Zygmunt Bauman – Lessons of the Holocaust

13 June 2014

Bernard Stiegler – About a Philosophy of the Automata & Automaticity.

12 June 2014

Challenging the ‘New Descriptivism’ – Rod Benson’s talk from QualPolComm preconference

11 June 2014

“ANT-takedown” via

Qualitative Political Communication Research

Rod Benson (NYU) served as a respondent at our conference on Qualitative Political Communication Research in May at ICA in Seattle.

His response created quite a stir (it has become known in some circles as his “ANT-takedown”) and was clearly aimed at more than the four particular papers on the panel.

We are happy he has agreed to share the text of his talk, posted below. It’s very good, provocative, and we hope it will spur debate.

Rodney Benson

“Challenging the ‘New Descriptivism’: Restoring Explanation, Evaluation, and Theoretical Dialogue to Communication Research.”

Remarks at the Qualitative Political Communication Pre-Conference,

International Communication Association

Seattle, May 22, 2014

Given time constraints, I will cut to the chase. I’ve been asked to stir things up a bit, so I’ll see what I can do.

We’ve just heard two excellent ANT (actor-network theory) papers (Joshua Braun; Burcu Baykurt) and two excellent systems/institutional theory papers…

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Human Reflexivity in Actor-Network-Theory , Philip Conway

10 June 2014

Human Reflexivity in Actor-Network-Theory , Philip Conway

Perhaps in theory actor-network theory neglects human reflexivity; in practice, however, ANT accounts are full of fully reflexive humans all reflexively reflecting in their own ways. Mol’s The Body Multiple is a paragon of self-awareness and empathy. Latour’s Aramis is replete with engineers agonising over engineering, politicians opportunistically politicking, etc. In Gomart and Hennion’s A Sociology of Attachmenteven drug addicts aren’t reducible to their vice; their vice, instead, provokes instances of subjectivation.

[G&H] reveal a subtle interweaving between being abandoned to an external power and the virtuosity of practices, of manual, and of social skills. The user passes between active and passive. That is, between ‘I am manipulated’ (because I agree to it) and ‘I manipulate’ (an object which is stronger than myself). (p.243)

There are no more ‘network dopes’ than there are ‘cultural’ ones.

And so on and so on.

Nowhere are human beings reduced to being mere ‘mouth pieces’ of networks; however, the mere fact that humans have reflexive self-awareness isn’t allowed to be the be all and end all, the thing that separates humans from other things so fundamentally that they have to be dealt with in separate chapters or with distinct conceptual vocabularies.

Where does that craving for a kind of ontological cordon – a prophylactic for humanness, an agency-shield – come from? It can only come from the fear of automata, the belief in beings that are pure clockwork and simply reproduce their constitutive causes without alteration. ANT dismisses this as a possibility and so the lack of human agency is never really an issue, at least not a priori.

Certainly people are repressed but always in particular times, in particular places and always by particular networks. If something or someone is without agency (and for a human this must mean that they are incapable of understanding what it is that they are doing) then this is something remarkable that must be explained, it isn’t something that justifies letting nature bifurcate all over again.

If you are convinced that human beings are engulfed in totalitarian social structures that threaten to drown them in determination then it makes sense to worry endlessly about reflexivity and to make it the alpha and omega of your sociology. If, however, you grant everything agency (of whatever sort and of whatever strength and intensity) as a matter of course and then proceed to understand the meshing of these infinitely variegated agencies in concrete situations then this never becomes a problem since the presence or absence of any kind of freedom is always explained by concrete forces deployed in the case at hand.

In short, actor-network theorists routinely deal with human reflexivity, they just don’t make a big song and dance about it.

The above tenets are, of course, entirely questionable and open to criticism; however, unless ANT is criticised for what it does rather than what its humanist critics like to think that it does we’ll never get anywhere with anything.

ANT deserves to be critiqued – but it deserves to be critiqued well.

Authority and Political Technology workshop – keynote audio recordings

9 June 2014

Progressive Geographies

apt_2014_3Recordings from the recent Authority and Political Technologies workshop are now available at the Warwick website – Christian Borch, Luciana Parisi, Amade M’Charek, Louise Amoore, Costas Douzinas and AbdouMaliq Simone.

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Performing Welfare, Producing Bodies & Faking Identity

8 June 2014

India’s identity project is the the world’s largest biometric database — currently consisting of almost 600 million enrolled. By locating this techno-utopian vision within the larger surveillance state that a unique identifier facilitates, Malavika Jayaram — lawyer, Berkman Fellow, and Fellow at the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore — describes the ‘welfare industrial complex’ that imagines the poor as the next emerging market. She highlights the risks of the body as password, of implementing e-governance in a legal vacuum, and of digitization reinforcing existing inequalities. By offering a perspective that is somewhat different from the traditional western focus of privacy, she hopes to generate a more inclusive discourse about what it means to be autonomous and empowered in the face of paternalistic development projects.