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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Relational ontologies

This is the last meeting of the Winter term, and this time our special guest will be Tahani Nadim from the Natural History Museum in Berlin. We’re going to continue our discussion about relational ontologies with the help of Marsha Rosengarten’s HIV Interventions (particularly the last two chapters.)

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Social ontology and assemblages

To what extent is ontology a good and helpful term for STS scholars? Isn’t it too ‘philosophical’? Do we necessarily have to engage with philosophy, when we explore (even advocate) a shift from epistemology to ontology? If we do, what are the possibilities of productive engagement? These are some of the questions we’re going to discuss with the help of Manuel DeLanda’s chapter about social ontology.

Reference: DeLanda, M. (2006) Deleuzian social ontology and assemblage theory, in Fuglsang, M., & Sørensen, B. M. (eds.), Deleuze and the Social. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 250-266.

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The ontological turn

In this meeting we’ll continue our discussion with the help of various texts from the special issue of SSS about the (alleged) turn to ontology in STS. Among other things, we will compare and contrast different ways of relating to the empirical through Setve Woolgar & Javier Lezaun’s and John Law & Marienne Lien’s papers.

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