Monadic ethnography

One concern that came to the surface during our conversation about digital methods was related to the figure of the observer. Were Latour et al. fascinated with new digital tools as ethnographers or as researchers who themselves longed for their own databases, network analyses and fancy visualisations? Some of us had the impression it was the latter, and began to wonder what the relationship between ethnography and monadology could then possibly look like. This is exactly what we’re going to discuss in our next Kitchen STS session, to be held in the Kitchen at 18.00 on the 11th December. The text that will help us frame the discussion will be Isaac Marrero-Guillamón’s ‘Monadology and Ethnography‘, published recently in Ethnography.

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Methodological implications: digital tools

The rediscovery of Gabriel Tarde in the social sciences has important conceptual and methodological implications. The former is concerned with the redefinition of ‘the social’ – at least this is what Christian Borch argued last week. But what about the latter? One possible answer lies in the development and use of various digital tools.

This week (13 Nov) we’ll discuss two texts by Bruno Latour and Tommaso Venturini on quali-quantitative methods – the longer text is available here http://www.medialab.sciences-po.fr/publications/the-whole-is-always-smaller-than-its-parts-figures/ and the shorter here http://www.medialab.sciences-po.fr/publications/the-social-fabric-digital-traces-and-quali-quantitative-methods/

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Organising imitation

The rediscovery of Gabriel Tarde can be understood as an attempt to respecify ‘the social’ not as something that explains certain phenomena, but the phenomenon that itself needs to be explained. This, at least, is what Bruno Latour claims in his ‘Gabriel Tarde and the end of the social’. This week’s guest, Christian Borch from the Copenhagen Business School, is not unsympathetic to Latour’s respecification idea, but claims that his foregrounding of Tarde’s work on monadology conceals an equally (if not more) important concept, namely that of imitation.

Our brunch meeting with Christian will take place on Friday, the 7th November, at 9.00am.  If you’re planning to attend, please send an email to Andreas Folkers (folkers-at-em.uni-frankfurt.de). The reading for this event is Christian’s chapter on Gabriel Tarde in The Oxford Handbook of Process Philosophy and Organization Studies

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Monadology and the end of the social

We’ll start the discussion in the winter semester 2014/2015 at 18.00 on Thursday the 30th October in the sociology kitchen area (PEG building 3G 204). After our excursions into performativity, multiple ontologies, and topology, this time we’ll stay at ‘home’ and ask what implications such fancy terms have for social research. We’ll do this with the help of Bruno Latour, Gabriel Tarde, Christian Borch, Noortje Marres and others, centred loosely around the concept of monadology.

The first reading will be Bruno Latour’s chapter on Gabrial Tarde and the end of the social – the text is available online (in several languages) here: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/node/181

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Race, time and folded objects

The last meeting of the summer term 2014 will take place at the usual time & place on the 10th July – we’ll continue our discussion about topologies with the help of Amade M’charek’s recent article on folded objects in Theory, Culture & Society.

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‘This Is Some Spooky Shit We Got Here: Strange Topologics in David Lynch’s Lost Highway?

The special guest of our next event will be Bernd Herzogenrath, who’s going to push forward our discussion of topological figures with the help of David Lynch’s Lost Highway.

Please note that the meeting will take place on Tuesday the 17th June, between 18.00 and 20.00 in PEG 3G 170.

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Epigenetics, big data and politics

Our special guest this week is Emmanuel Didier, with the help of whom we’ll return to the topologies of databases. The title of his talk (jointly organised by us, Thomas Lemke’s research group, and the Knowledge, Technology, Environment section of the Department of Sociology) is ‘Epigenetics, big data and politics’.

Please note that the talk will take place at 4pm in PEG 1G 107!

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The spatiotemporalities of ruins

So far, we talked about topologies mostly in spatial terms. But what about temporalities? STS has sometimes been accused of ‘presentism’ – of being good at describing events and processes that take place here and now, involving actors that are relatively easy to identify. But what about half-presences, hauntings, and connections that age, decay or fade away? We’ll explore such questions with the help of a special guest, Ann Stoler, and her recent book Imperial Debris.

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Topologies of culture

Last time we talked about topology in rather abstract terms; this time we’ll start discussing what topological analyses might look like in one specific field or another. Our reference point will be a special issue of Theory, Culture & Society on the topologies of culture, especially Evelyn Ruppert’s article on database devices.

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Conversations on topologies

The main theme of the summer term is ‘topology’, and we thought it would be helpful to start by discussing Michel Serres’s take on it. For the first session we’re going to read various excepts (Ch1; pp. 57-62; pp. 93-107) from Michel Serres’s conversation with Bruno Latour, and a short commentary on Serres by Steven Connor.

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