Posts Tagged ‘Nick Srnicek’

Conflict networks

15 March 2010

Nick Srnicek shows “the usefulness of actor-network theory for understanding conflict dynamics”:

Conflict Networks: Collapsing the Global into the Local.” Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies, Issue 2, 2010, pp. 9-30


Recent decades have seen a dual and simultaneous shift in conflict trends. With the end of the Cold War and superpower support, conflicts have become increasingly intrastate and increasingly localized, dependent for their sustenance upon local assistance and national resources. Yet this localization of conflict has coincided with the increasingly international aspect of conflicts, with humanitarian intervention and UN peacekeeping becoming ever more prevalent. The aim of this paper is to provide a framework for understanding these shifting relations between the global and the local. This is accomplished through an analysis of actor-network theory and its rejoinders to reductionist understandings of conflict. Rather the reducing the eruption of violence down to greed, grievance, or ancient hatred, actor-network theory aims to examine conflict networks and their specific composition of local, material, and global actors. Three aspects of these networks are highlighted in particular: the personal networks of local individuals, the material actors, and the conflict network as a system. With these clarified the final section turns to an analysis of some of the primary modalities through which global actors relate and embed themselves within local networks.

Militancy and ANT

2 October 2009

Nick Srnicek‘s talk, “Framing Militancy” [PDF], at the Militant Dysphoria event at Goldsmiths this week generated some interesting blog reflections on the relationship between politics and actor-network theory. Here are Levi Bryant’s thoughts on ANT and politics. Graham Harman’s thoughts on the role of networks and connectedness in politics are here, here and here.

From Marxism to ANT and back

29 July 2009

Nick Srnicek over at Speculative Heresy asks some interesting questions about the relationship between marxism, non-philosophy, speculative realism and actor-network theory.

What if capitalism-qua-system is as much a product of Marxist theories as it is of any physical and social reality? (…) How to resist something that is non-systemic, non-totalizing and more heterogeneous than previously presumed? (…) How to square the circle and incorporate Marxism, non-philosophy and ANT together?

Explicitly or implicitly, his questions touch on a number of controversies, such as the micro-macro quandry in social theory, the “explain or describe” dilemma, the nature of critique and the relationship between social theory/philosophy and political action.

Does ANT’s commitment to empirical description though have to necessarily lead to local studies incapable of grasping the big picture? The proponents of ANT often argue against making a priori distinctions between the local and the global or the micro and the macro, focusing instead on describing the equipment that produces distinctions like these. In theory at least it is possible to imagine that various descriptions of apparatuses operating in a variety of domains (from financial markets to healthcare to entertainment) can be connected to construct a more complete picture of how the prevalent socio-economic-technical etc. modes of ordering sustain themselves.

How about combiningĀ  ANT and Marx into an analytical apparatus called ANT-MARKS, dedicated to studying the burrows that ant-like actors leave behind during their ongoing construction of the global capitalist system?

Incidentally, it would be interesting to find out what happened at “The State of Things” conference earlier this year, which conducted some explorations along similar lines…

The Speculative Turn

4 July 2009

News of the Speculative Turn anthology have hit the blog waves. There is now a holding page for the forthcoming book on the site, and Levi Bryant provides the genealogy.

Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (editors) (Forthcoming), The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Melbourne,


Continental philosophy has entered a new period of ferment. The long deconstructionist era was followed with a period dominated by Deleuze, which has in turn evolved into a new situation still difficult to define. However, one common thread running through the new brand of continental positions is a renewed attention to materialist and realist options in philosophy. Among the current giants of this generation, this new focus takes numerous different and opposed forms. It might be hard to find many shared positions in the writings of Badiou, DeLanda, Laruelle, Latour, Stengers, and Zizek, but what is missing from their positions is an obsession with the critique of written texts. All of them elaborate a positive ontology, despite the incompatibility of their results. Meanwhile, the new generation of continental thinkers is pushing these trends still further, as seen in currents ranging from transcendental materialism to the London-based speculative realism movement to new revivals of Derrida. As indicated by the title The Speculative Turn, the new currents of continental philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself. This anthology assembles authors, of several generations and numerous nationalities, who will be at the center of debate in continental philosophy for decades to come.