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The Ontological Turn

Taking Different Worlds Seriously

Andrew Pickering

nonhuman world we all inhabit. There’s nothing very disturbing there after all. But in the twenty-first century, the social constructivist consensus has broken down, and both anthropology and science and technology studies (STS) have taken an ontological

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Human Mobility and the Spatial Dynamics of Knowledge

Mapping Science, Technology, and Medicine in and around Late Imperial China

Catherine Jami

The project “Individual Itineraries and the Circulation of Scientific and Technical Knowledge in China (16th–20th Centuries)” has shed light on the impact of individuals’ geographic mobility on the spatial dynamics of knowledge in late imperial China, where the bureaucratic system dictated a specific pattern of mobility for the elites. The question was also studied for other socioprofessional groups—craftsmen and medical doctors—and for the actors of the globalization of knowledge—Christian missionaries, colonial doctors, and the Chinese students. The studies conducted shed light on a variety of places, social milieus, fields of knowledge, and on the conditions of travel of technical knowledge—including sericulture, water conservancy, medicine, natural history, and statistics—against the background of the expertise such as classical scholarship—the dominant body of knowledge, sanctioned by imperial examination—circulated among the elite.

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Contemporary Megaprojects

An Introduction

Seth Schindler, Simin Fadaee and Dan Brockington

There is renewed interest in megaprojects worldwide. In contrast to high-modernist megaprojects that were discrete projects undertaken by centralized authorities, contemporary megaprojects are often decentralized and pursued by a range of stakeholders from governments as well as the private sector. They leverage cutting-edge technology to ‘see’ complex systems as legible and singular phenomena. As a result, they are more ambitious, more pervasive and they have the potential to reconfigure longstanding relationships that have animated social and ecological systems. The articles in this issue explore the novel features of contemporary megaprojects, they show how the proponents of contemporary megaprojects aspire to technologically enabled omnipresence, and they document the resistance that megaprojects have provoked.

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Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

sociology: the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization. We conclude that these theories are not clear about either what expertise is or how to balance scientism and powerism. Therefore, we turn to science and technology studies

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Raw Data

Making Relations Matter

Antonia Walford

of contemporary work in anthropology and science and technology studies (STS) ( Haraway 1991 ; Latour 1993 , 1999 ; Viveiros de Castro 1998 , 2004 ). But this observation has other related and equally kaleidoscopic effects, one of which I will

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Maryon McDonald

In Social Anthropology, we are perhaps wearily aware now of certain dualities – nature and culture and subject and object amongst them - that ought long since to have been taken out of our analytical tool kits and treated ethnographically instead. Unsurprisingly perhaps, important elements of this were first effected by anthropologists studying Europe and then later refined and elaborated, albeit sometimes in a less ethnographic vein, by that largely ANT-fed beast known as STS (Science and Technology Studies) or more recently by AST (Anthropology of Science and Technology). At the same time, space has been made within both the social and natural sciences for the mutual articulations by which each might not simply incorporate the other but both can imagine themselves to be composing, together, some new middle ground.

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Robert Bork and Andrea Kann, eds., The Art, Science, and Technology of Medieval Travel (2008) Reviewed by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Diane Fortenberry and Deborah Manley eds., Saddling the Dogs: Journeys through Egypt and the Near East (2009) Reviewed by Naghmeh Sohrabi

Hagen Schulz-Forberg, London-Berlin: Authenticity, Modernity, and the Metropolis in Urban Travel Writing from 1851 to 1939 (2006) Reviewed by Andrew S. Gross

Kathleen Barry, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (2007) Reviewed by Judith Adler

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Erin Moore Daly

This article explores the hidden, suppressed elements of New Orleans leading up to and immediately following Hurricane Katrina. The article is juxtaposed with excerpts from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities in order to provide a lens through which to ask questions not typically raised by government officials, city planners, and science and technology experts. This uncovers aspects of New Orleans that must not be overlooked in the rebuilding process. If policy, culture, and technology render aspects of New Orleans invisible, then only by revealing these aspects can one ascertain the truth of the city.

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Introduction

Museums, Power, Knowledge

Tony Bennett

Michel Foucault argues that truth is not to be emancipated from power. Given that museums have played a central role in these “regimes of truth,” Foucault’s work was a reference point for the debates around “the new museology” in the 1980s and remains so for contemporary debates in the field. In this introduction to a new volume of selected essays, the use of Foucault’s work in my previous research is considered in terms of the relations between museums, heritage, anthropology, and government. In addition, concepts from Pierre Bourdieu, science and technology studies, Actor Network Theory, assemblage theory, and the post-Foucaultian literature on governmentality are employed to examine various topics, including the complex situation of Indigenous people in contemporary Australia.

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Mobilizing Transport

Media, Actor-worlds, and Infrastructures

Gabriele Schabacher

The article deals with the relationship between media and transportation infrastructures and analyzes their links to the concept of mobility. It examines the assumption that infrastructure systems themselves are mobile, in the sense that they develop and have to be maintained constantly. According to such a perspective, they are to be considered not primarily as “structures,“ but as specific processes of mobilization (infrastructuring) that constitute the basis for mobility in the sense of transport and movement. Drawing on historical knowledge of transportation, it will be shown that a broad understanding of traffic as exchange, communication, and transportation has narrowed in the twentieth century, whereby the originally implied idea of transport as transformation became suppressed. Recent approaches in mobility studies, Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) can be combined in a fruitful way to unfold the specific dynamics of infrastructure as a process of mobilization (Callon) and technical mediation (Latour).