Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Meeting #2 - Reading List

Agency of Objects/Actor Network Theory - Part I - Gell, Ingold, and Latour

Our next meeting will be on Friday, February 17 at 2 in the ARF atrium. A little change in plans for our next meeting. Since Tim Ingold will be visiting soon, I thought that we should read some of his work that relates to our concerns with the agency of objects. Given this, I suggest that we focus on the writings of Gell, Latour, and Ingold for our next meeting and hold off on reading the archaeological literature related to this topic until the meeting after (meeting #3). Below is the updated reading list for our next meeting. Copies of all of these readings will be placed in my ARF mailbox by Wednesday afternoon.

Alfred Gell

Gell, A.
1998 Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Ch 2 and 3

*Gell, A.
1999 The Art of Anthropology: Essays and Diagrams. Athlone Press, London.
Ch 5 "The Technology of Enchantment and the Enchantment of Technology"

Layton, R.
2003 Art and Agency: A Reassessment. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 9:447-464. (Download from library)

Thomas, N.
2001 Introduction. In Beyond Aesthetics: Art and the Technologies of Enchantment, edited by C. Pinney and N. Thomas, pp. 1-12. Berg, Oxford.

Tim Ingold

*Ingold, T.
2000 The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Routledge, London. Ch 18 "On weaving a basket," Ch 19 "Of string bags and bird's nests: skill and the construction of artefacts"

Ingold, T.
2002 From the Perception of Archaeology to the Anthropology of Perception:
An Interview with Tim Ingold. Journal of Social Archaeology 3(1):5-22.(Download from library)

Latour, Posthumanism, and Actor Network Theory

*Jensen, C. B.
2003 Latour and Pickering: Post-human Perspectives on Science, Becoming and Normativity. In Chasing Technoscience: Matrix for Materiality, edited by D. Ihde and E. Selinger, pp. 225-240. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Latour, B.
1992 Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts. In Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change, edited by W. Bijker and J. Law, pp. 225-258. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

*Latour, B.
1999 Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. Ch 6 "A Collective of Humans and Nonhumans: Following Daedalus's Labyrinth"

Law, J.
1992 Notes on the Theory of the Actor-Network: Ordering, Strategy, and Heterogeneity. Systems Practice 5(4):379-393. (Download from library)

Pickering, J.
1997 Agents and Artefacts. Social Analysis 41(4):46-63.

*Focus on these readings


Blogger SMH said...

Thought I'd post some of what Rosemary noted in class last year (4/19/05) re: Chapters 5 and 6 of Latour...

RAJ: What is meant by an "object"? Changes in network of relations. LaTour as a network theory guy. Metaphoric leap from controlled lab in Science to actuality of everyday life. "Objectivity" is not just a problem of archaeologists— materiality exists before we come onto the scene.

RAJ: Should each sherd be treated as an object? [i.e., versus simply treating what was presumed to be an entire vessel] ...We often reconstitute the assumed vessel, either physically or as a physical record (a vessel; a set; a category) i.e., pieces of clay are mobilized by analysts to create a pot. Overlapping designations/types. Wares; types of wares; vessel parts; cultural parts; etc. Networks of humans and nonhuman things change, and through this change physical things– actants–

RAJ: Actants only exist in certain networks that mobilize them in a certain way– so is there a difference between humans and nonhumans? Both only have agency upon condition of being in the human/nonhuman network. Actors are not given– they emerge. How do they emerge in a particular historical situation? Reflexivity differentiates humans from nonhumans. Intentional action. Earspools as example of objects endowed with reflexivity: "I am Lady X's earspool" written upon it. Intentionality of older humans in forming younger humans' ears to future earspools.

ANT: Actor-Network Theory– relations between elements which are changeable over time and based on perspective and association with each other versus Assemblage: set of items related by some sort of essential quality. Actants can take place in multiple networks. Materiality can be talked about without corporeality (i.e. positing perishable goods); immaterial things (knowledge, songs, performance, etc.) can also be talked about in a network.

4:35 AM  
Blogger SMH said...

Here are a few things I took from Latour ch.6:

1) Issues of technical efficiency over matter as similar to those over knowledge

2) "We do not live in a society gazing out at a natural world or in a natural world that includes society as one of its components" (1999:174)... & alternatives to the 'myth of progress'

3) Human and nonhuman "collectives" [vs. Butler, who does not take for granted the term "human"]

4) The four meanings of technical mediation (1999:189)

... and a few issues I had with Latour (although maybe he addresses these elsewhere-- I've only read Ch.'s 5 & 6)

1) does not self-situate (his propositions are also "relatively" existing),

2) neglect of intentionality (whether it is merely perceived, or not, it has an effect– i.e., even if it is a sort of "placebo"), and

3) neglect of transformation outside of human sphere (whether it is merely perceived, or actual, the ideas of geological and biological/evolutionary transformation)

4:46 AM  
Blogger HeadbobbingWriter said...

Something to think/talk about: Symmetry. We read that for Latour it is all about complete and total symmetry. FOr Pickering it is not - for while there is a "Dance of of agency between diverse elements" they are not involved in an even flow. How do Gell and Ingold relate to this notion of symmetry?

2:38 PM  

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