The first meeting of the summer term will take place on the 20th April, between 18.00 and 20.00 in the soc. kitchen area (PEG 3G 204). As many of you know already, the cultural anthropology department, the human geography department, and the sociology department are working together to launch a new STS masters programme – the accreditation process is well under way. This raises a new intellectual and practical question for us: how to teach STS? This is what we’ll be discussing on Thursday, and quite possibly in the next couple of sessions.
In his opening lecture at last month’s ‘Values of Critique’ symposium, which almost exactly coincided with Donald Trump’s inauguration, Bruno Latour suggested that the mandate of STS has radically changed. ‘Forty years ago the main enemy was positivism; today no one believes in science any more.’ We’re in the era of ruins, all the iconic institutions of modernity have been deconstructed. In this new setting, what is STS going to be about?
In our next meeting we’ll discuss this rather heavy question with the help of Steve Woolgar and his colleagues’ paper titled ‘Does STS mean business?‘. The meeting will be held on the 9th February, starting at 6pm in the soc. kitchen area (PEG 3G 204). Steve has kindly agreed to respond to our questions and comments, if any.
We’ll start the New Year with a fascinating symposium on the Values of Critique, organised by the Normative Orders excellence cluster. The event will take place on the 19th and 20th January in the Städelschule, and include talks by Luc Boltanski, Rahel Jaeggi, Bruno Latour, among others. No registration is necessary, but make sure you arrive early, since the hall is likely to be packed.
Our next kitchen session will address a methodological problem that was articulated during our discussion with Louise Amoore, namely the problem of black boxes. Louise has argued that in the era of algorithms opening black boxes – the default methodological strategy in STS – will no longer do: many research objects in the field are not boxes, they are not black, and opening them is not necessarily the best way of engaging with them. So, what do we do?
The problem seems new, but versions of it have already been addressed in STS. In our next session, we’ll discuss a classic text: ‘Upon opening the black box and finding it empty‘ by Langdon Winner. The session will take place at the usual place (PEG 3G 204) at the usual time (18.00-20.00) on the 8th December.
Many of us are still recovering from the recent US presidential election campaign. Arguably, the election results mark not only the crisis of American politics, but an entire epistemo-political paradigm that includes politicians, journalists, and opinion polling companies alike. It is in this context that we’ll discuss Adrian Mackenzie‘s chapter in Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque titled ‘Distributive Numbers: A Post-demographic Perspective on Probability’. The meeting will take place on the 24th November, at the usual time and place (18.00, PEG 3G 204). Looking forward to seeing many of you there.
On the 4th November we’ll continue our collective exploration of baroque modes of knowing by going on a field trip to Mannheim, to the ‘Nur schöner schein?‘ exhibition.
Between the 17th and the 19th November we’ll then perform a digital switch and attend the ‘Digital <dis>Orders‘ conference at the Normative Orders cluster. Before the conference starts, we’ll have a kitchen meeting with Louise Amoore – we’ll be discussing her recent paper on Cloud Geographies. (The meeting will take place in Sturm & Drang at 11am – please let Till know in advance if you’re coming.)
The semester start seems far away, but perhaps it makes sense to already arrange our next kitchen meeting. In order to reduce (or at least not to increase) the craziness of the first few weeks of the winter term, I suggest that we meet at 6pm on the 13th October, in the soc. kitchen area (PEG 3G 204). If you agree, we could use the session to discuss the introductory chapter of John Law and Evelyn Ruppert’s Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque (the whole book is available online for free at https://www.matteringpress.org/books/modes-of-knowing). This chapter might be a good starting point for a series of discussions about styles of knowing and doing research.
On June the 17th we’ll collectively visit Bruno Latour et al.’s exhibition ‘Reset Modernity’ at the ZKM in Karlsruhe. If you feel like joining us, please meet us at the head of Platform 6 at Frankfurt Hbf at 9.50am. We’ll take the 10.05am train to Karlsruhe (ICE towards Chur).
Our next session with take place at 18.00 on the 9th June in the soc. kitchen area (PEG 3G. 204). Our special guest will be Ingmar Lippert from the ITU in Copenhagen, who will bring a draft paper titled ‘Environment as placeholder: on the temporal politics of carbon’ as a contribution to our ongoing discussion about multiple temporalities. (Please email for a copy of the paper.)
See many of you there & then!
Our next session will take place at 18.00 on the 12th May, in the soc. kitchen area (PEG 3G 204). We’ll continue the ‘multiple temporalities’ theme by discussing the concept of latency. We’ll do this with the help of Joanna Radin’s 2013 paper titled ‘Latent life: Concepts and practices of human tissue preservation in the International Biological Program’ – please find the article here. (Do let Endre know, if you can’t access the PDF.)
See you soon!