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Natures of Naturalism

Reaching Bedrock in Climate Science

Martin Skrydstrup

By exploring the multiple natures of a naturalist cosmology within the empirical terrain of climate science, this article examines what remains of the nature-culture divide in the Anthropocene. While scientists are familiar with critiques of scientific realism and work within a repertoire of multiple natures, they also maintain the boundary between the epistemic object (climate) and the material object (ice). While for science studies, the main object of science is socio-material practices, such as ice core drilling, for the scientists this drilling is more of a theatrical performance for the public and the funders. I argue that the tension between science and science studies can be circumnavigated by a double move: remaining faithful to the ways in which scientists draw modern boundaries, but also eliciting their reflexive ways of dealing with multiple natures from within a naturalist cosmology.

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Introduction

Minor Traditions, Shizen Equivocations, and Sophisticated Conjunctions

Casper Bruun Jensen and Atsuro Morita

This introduction examines the interrelations between the possible existence of multiple nature-cultures and the indisputable existence of distinct anthropological traditions. After offering some preliminary remarks on the problems with nature-culture, the article offers as an example the complex translations required for the Western idea of nature to gain foothold in Japanese anthropology. Patched together from Western and Chinese notions, Japanese ‘nature’ remains equivocal to this day. This equivocation, however, has also been generative of minor anthropological traditions. As this suggests, the advance of different concepts into new territories holds the potential for shaping ‘sophisticated conjunctions’ in which traditions are mutually modified, allowing new forms of nature and culture emerge.

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Raw Data

Making Relations Matter

Antonia Walford

This article takes scientific ‘raw data’ as its ethnographic object in order to investigate the co-implication of nature and culture in scientific knowledge practices. The article traces out some of the activities that are involved in producing numerical climate data from the Brazilian Amazon. Although science and technology studies (STS) makes a strong case for associating relationality with certainty, the article argues that a particular form of data, ‘raw data’, complicates this association. It further argues that scientific data is not simply composed out of relations, but is a relation itself. The article ends with a brief reflection on the possible repercussions of shifting from thinking of science as producing multiple natures and cultures to thinking of it as producing the potential for relations.