Global food connections

In Brita Brenna’s paper ‘the market’ was analysed as an important context for the development of a particular understanding of ‘nature’. But the relation can be easily reversed: the market does not only help make sense of nature, it also contributes to its ongoing production. How this happens will be discussed with the help of Stefan Ouma and his new book titled Assembling Export Markets: The Making and Unmaking of Global Food Connections in West Africa. (We will discuss the Introduction and Chapter 6 – ask Endre for the PDF.)

The meeting will be held at 18.00 in the STS Kitchen (PEG 3G 204) on the 28th May.

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Postcolonial contexting

What does ‘context’ stand for, when we talk about a postcolonial context? How do contexts work, and how can history contribute to a better understanding of that work? These are some of the questions we will discuss with Linda Madsen, who has recently finished her PhD at TiK in Oslo, and her reading of Brita Brenna’s paper on Norwegian natural history and its contexts. The meeting will take place at the usual time and place on the 7th May.

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Postcolonial STS

Our first meeting in the summer term will be held at the usual place (PEG building, 3G 204) and the usual time (18.00-20.00) on the 23rd April. Drawing on some of the discussions we had last time on statebuilding and electricity infrastructures, we’ll start the term with the first chapter of Timothy Mitchell’s Colonising Egypt – do let me (Endre) know if you need a PDF copy of the text.

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Illuminating the state

The summer term is still miles away, but we’re already thinking of organising our upcoming discussions around postcolonialism. A nice segue into this theme will be Nida Alahmad’s Kitchen STS talk on the 9th March, at 18.00 in PEG 1.G 165. Nida’s talk will be based on a draft paper titled ‘Illuminating the State: Statebuilding and Electricity in Iraq’ – please send me (Endre) an email for a copy.

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Interface methods

The last Kitchen STS meeting of this term will take place on the 6th February, at 10.30 in Café Albatros. Our special guest this time will be Noortje Marres, senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, and director of the exciting interdisciplinary research centre CSISP. She’ll help us bring our discussion about the methodological implications of monadology to a conclusion by discussing a paper she has co-authored with Carolin Gerlitz on ‘interface methods’.

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On romantic and baroque complexities

Isaac Marrero-Guillamón’s monadic ethnography drew attention not only to monads as complex objects of descriptions, but also to different possible ways of narrating complexity. In order to discuss this further in our next meeting (which will take place on the 15th January 2015), we’re going to use the concepts of romantic and baroque complexity, as compared and contrasted by Chunglin Kwa in his chapter in John Law & Annemarie Mol’s Complexities

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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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