Articles

Articles

(149)
A life Among Conceptual Characters 
2016

New Literary History, special symposium, Latour and the Humanitie

Abstract
Oddly enough, I am able to date with a perfect degree of precision my connection with writing as a thought producing activity: 13th of October 1961. Even the hour — 7 pm — is inscribed on the cover page of the first of my personal diaries! As far as I can tell, the fourteen-year old writer had already made the connection between writing and thinking since he had penned as an incipit: “J’y noterai tous les soirs mes activités et surtout mes pensées’’ (« I will report what i do and above all my thoughts »). The “above all” is especially pleasant since at this early age he had no thought whatsoever to jot down! At least not yet. Because, as everyone in the field of humanities suspects, thinking follows and does not precede writing — at least this highly specific form of thinking associated with mid-century bourgeois European techniques of scribbling. Considering that today I am taking notes in a (by now digital) notebook numbered 212, this means I have been allowed for the last fifty-five years to continuously learn what I should think through the deciphering of some twenty thousand pages of personal pattes de mouche! squiggles. (?)
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Semiotics & Literature Studies
(148)
On a possible triangulation of some present political positions
2016

Paper given as the Mosse Lecture, Zukunftswissen, Humboldt University, Berlin, 12th of May 2016

Abstract
In Reset Modernity!, the Karlsruhe exhibition we just opened at ZKM, visitors are requested to follow a series of specific procedures to reset the instruments that allow them to find their way in this highly complex question: where is Modernity heading and how can we orient ourselves through its metamorphosis? An excellent way, it seems to me, to consider the theme of this year's lecture series, Zukunftswissen. Visitors are handled a precious little booklet that we call a “fieldbook” because they are invited, really, to play an active role in surveying the quickly transforming landscape. At the end of each procedure, a cryptic message is provided about a somewhat mysterious triangle. The curators seem to be arguing that once this triangle has been understood, things will become really much clearer. It is this claim which I would like to comment on by developing a bit what this triangle could mean and how it has been drawn.
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Ecology & Political Ecology, Philosophy, Politics
(146)
A dialog about a new meaning of symmetric anthropology
2016

Interview by Carolina Miranda, chapter for a book edited by Pierre Charbonnier, Gildas Salmon & Peter Skafish (in preparation)

Abstract
CM: still I am infinitely far from granting any symmetry between poor and rich, the victims and the profiteers of the capitalistic land grab! BL: But would you really disagree that it would be possible to detect a sort of inverse history at work here? At the beginning of Middle Ground, remember, we are in the 16th century, you see how weak are the envoys of the Kings of England and France, they have to parley their ways through nations that are still powerful (whenever English and French think they are strong enough so that they don’t need to negotiate, they are roundly defeated!). Two centuries later, there is no need to discuss at all: the Indians have been literally pushed aside. CM: So? BL: So what I am hinting at with this new version of symmetric anthropology is that, because of the ecological mutation, three centuries later, we are now bound to observe a reversal that I take to be exactly symmetrical to White’s narrative: the Old Empires so to speak, are so much weakened, so much taken aback, that they have to negotiate anew, and are looking everywhere for cues on how to cope! Those who were doing the colonization now exclaim: “Ah that’s what you meant by having your culture broken down” and those on the receiving end of the colonization sigh back: “Ah! may be, finally you will now understand”. CM: Bruno, Bruno nothing of what you say works here. Where have you seen a negotiation going on? What chance had, for instance, the Fuegans to negotiate? In 50 years they have been wiped out. All of them. To the last canoe. Who is sent as a diplomat? Guns, microbes, greed, an abominable landgrab. Diplomacy? This is a sickening idea really.
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Anthropology, Ecology & Political Ecology
(145)
« Clues. Anomalies. Understanding. Detecting underlying assumptions and expected practices in the Digital Humanities through the AIME project »
2015

Visible Language 49-3, 2015, (with Donato Ricci
, Robin de Mourat and Christophe Leclercq)

Abstract
Imagine a collective inquiry presenting its results before the collaboration has even started; an academic book without footnotes and references; an open, on-and-off-line platform to collaborate with peers where all must subscribe to a strict protocol to express their ideas. This is the AIME (An Inquiry into Modes of Existence) project. It is an experimental intertwining of analog and digital practices often contradicting the norms and formats they belonged to, thus creating expectations and protestations from different communities of users. Adopting a critical position toward the project, we multiplied the listening devices to collect these accusations. We propose, here, to reframe them as clues to detect the different practices and assumptions at work in collaboration-based projects, design, and Digital Humanities communities. This paper details the methodical activity of collecting clues, grouping them in specific anomalies, then explicating the choices that generated them. In a situation where Digital Humanities are still delineating their position and role in the wider academic environment, our way to study the AIME project will help reframe the role of experiments in the Digital Humanities. This study about AIME enables an understanding of some underlying assumptions and expectations in Digital Humanities.
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Design, Digital Humanities, Modes of existence, Viualization
(144)
"Touch Base !" An Introduction to the catalog of Reset Modernity!
2016

Reset Modernity!, MIT Press catalogue of the exhibition at ZKM 15th April-20th August 2016 (with Christophe Leclercq)

Abstract
When you think about it, it’s clear that the moderns have inherited a tradition that started badly. What we used to celebrate at school as one of the greatest achievements of Western philosophy is the strange story of cavemen who are kicked out of their cave and end up blinded by the sun because they were stupidly instructed to look at it directly without anything to protect their eyes! What a great parable this is, one that portrays mortals blindly stumbling in the open air instead of staying prisoners in a dark cave below. We have to recognize that such an excursion out of the cave is not terribly good training for those who wish to be earthly-minded.
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Anthropology, Modes of Existence, Philosophy
(143)
« Onus orbis terrarum » About a possible shift in the definition of sovereignty
2015

« Onus orbis terrarum » About a possible shift in the definition of sovereignty in Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Vol. 44, Special issue on Failure and denial in World Politics, 2016

Abstract
Starting with an insight from Peter Sloterdijk about the enduring notion of Empire in European idea of sovereignty, the paper explores a problem common to the field of international relations and more generally geopolitics as well as social theory: the very origin of the notion of an entity endowed with some sort of autonomy over a territory. It is argued that the notion of a bounded entity triggers many artifacts that explains, in part, the failure and denial of world politics especially over the question of the climate. See also the interview in the same issue.
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Philosophy, Politics, Viualization
(142)
Fill in the Gap. A New Alliance for Social and Natural Sciences
2015

« Fill in the Gap. A New Alliance for Social and Natural Sciences » in Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (with Tommaso Venturini, Pablo Jensen and Bruno Latour) (2015) 18 (2) 1 http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/2/11.html

Abstract
In the last few years, electronic media brought a revolution in the traceability of social phenomena. As particles in a bubble chamber, social trajectories leave digital trails that can be analyzed to gain a deeper understanding of collective life. To make sense of these traces a renewed collaboration between social and natural scientists is needed. In this paper, we claim that current research strategies based on micro-macro models are unfit to unfold the complexity of collective existence and that the priority should instead be the development of new formal tools to exploit the richness of digital data.
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Digital Humanities, Quantitative methods, Social Theory
(141)
"The strange entanglement of jurimorphs"
2015

"The strange entanglement of jurimorphs" A chapter prepared for a volume edited by Kyle McGee; “Bruno Latour and the Passage of Law”, Edinburgh University Press, pp. 331-353, 2015.

Abstract
I want to stress how reassuring it is for me to see that it is actually the mode of existence I call [LAW] that has been so generously commented by English speaking jurists. Overall, I take this volume as a confirmation of my claim that [LAW] has resisted much better than all the other modes the crushing weight imposed by an exclusively epistemological definition of what true and false really mean. If I employed the legal institution to offer a tentative protection to the diversity of all the modes before the notion of preposition [PRE] was firmly instituted, it is because everyone seems to agree that law has its own way of defining true and false, although everyone also agrees that such a way does not resemble what is needed for extending the scope of referential statements [REF]. Even if this original way of the law is ridiculed for its formalism, belittled for its archaic dramaturgy, mocked for its wide use of imaginary solutions, it remains the case that it is always recognized that what holds legally, well, holds for good — in some fashion to be determined.
Translations

Language: German
Translator:Claudia Brede-Kanersmann
Reference: "Dei eigenartige Verwobenheit der Jurimorphs" Twellmann, Marcus, ed. Wissen, Wie Recht Ist. Bruno Latours Empirische Philosophie Einer Existenzweise, Konstanz University Press. Konstanz, 2016, pp. 201-225.

Law, Modes of Existence
(140)
“Counter a metaphysical machine with a bigger metaphysical machine.” Does An Inquiry into Modes of Existence have a system?
2015

English version by Stephen Muecke of a paper to be published in French in Les Temps Modernes

À métaphysique, métaphysique et demie. L’Enquête sur les modes d’existence forme-t-elle un système?
Abstract
Carolina Marinda — Since, in your book on the modes of existence (AIME), you invented a character, an anthropologist carrying out, in a way, your research work for you, I hope you will agree to an interrogation by a genuine anthropologist who is having real trouble doing her own research according to your methodological principles! Bruno Latour — A refusal would be quite out of place. Especially as the project aims to do something that is as unusual in philosophy as it is in anthropology, to do successful collective research.
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Modes of Existence
(139)
Anthropology at the Time of the Anthropocene - a personal view of what is to be studied
2014

Given at the 113th AAA meeting in Washington on the 5th of November 2014 as a Distinguished Lecture

Abstract
What an amazing gift! Sure it might be poisonous. But how silly it would be not to try to peek through the wrapping to take a glimpse of what is in store. Consider the situation: here is a battered scholarly discipline, always uncertain of its scientific status, constantly plagued by successive and violent “turns” (the “ontological turn” being only the more recent), a field which always finds itself dragged into the middle of harsh political conflicts, a discipline that runs the constant risk of being absorbed by neighboring specialties and voted out of existence by deans and administrators impatient of its methods and ideologies, a discipline that accepts being crushed under the weight of all the violence and domination suffered by the many populations it has decided to champion—a lost cause among all the lost causes; okay, you see the picture, and it is to this same discipline, which a few years ago, an amazing present was offered: pushed from behind by the vast extent of ecological mutations and dragged ahead by philosophers, historians, artists and activists, a sizeable group of natural scientists are describing the quandary of our time in terms that exactly match the standards, vices and virtues of that very discipline. Yes, what a gift! It is really embarrassing, especially if it is not deserved!
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Anthropology, Ecology & Political Ecology