Organic Metaphors in Technoscience (UvA)

On the way back to Hungary, I’ll stop over in Amsterdam to give a paper at this interesting workshop. The title of my paper is: “Worlding with the Metabolism: Or how to ‘put’ Japanese medications into Hungarian bodies?” I’m working on the same material for a Japanese publication and will re-visit some of the sites back in Hungary, so it is a really special occasion. And meeting with old friends, of course… 


Organic Metaphors in Technoscience

Time: Friday, September 16, 2016, 14:00-17:30
Place: University of Amsterdam, Department of Anthropology, B building, Room B5.12
Organisers: Atsuro Morita, Liv Nyland Krause and Wakana Suzuki
ABSTRACT: Recent discourses about innovation and management are full of organic metaphors. From innovation ecosystems to business incubation to digital ecology, terms from biological and ecological sciences are now widely used to denote practices and organizational processes of business and technoscience. This workshop aims to shed light on this trans-boundary displacement of organic notions by focusing on the intermingling of the semiotic and the material in technoscience. Organic metaphors of social processes have long history that stretches back to the early social organism theory in the 19th century and beyond. Anthropology has also paid attention to metaphors of body and organism in wide-ranging settings. This workshop tries to extend such classic interests further by focusing on material practices of making analogies between processes of life and other domains. From robotics and industrial district, many of recent organic metaphors aim not only to understand social processes by organic metaphors but also to create artifacts and social organizations functions like organisms. In other words, in these practices metaphors of life are taking material forms. By focusing on this performativity of such analogies, the papers of the workshop explore emerging intermingling of the mechanical and the organic, the imaginary and the material, and institutions and ecologies.

病・医療・生物医学(科学社会学会 第4回年次大会)

An STS take on my previous fieldwork in Hungary…


科学社会学会第4回年次大会 セッション3 @東京大学

◼︎ 日時:2015年10月10日(土)、15:45 – 17:45
◼︎ 場所:東京大学本郷キャンパス法文1号館
◼︎ 司会:山中浩司(大阪大学)

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Human Scales and Subjectivities (TGSW 2015)

Another (and still preliminary) paper on my new material from Vietnam…

Session at the Tsukuba Science Week @ Tsukuba University

Time: Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Place: Tsukuba International Congress Center, 3F Conference Room 304
ABSTRACT: How can we assess the ways in which the humans (concerned persons, bystanders, experts, activists, administrators, and politicians) conceptualize the problems of the world? With what apparatuses – words, equipments, machines, bodies, conventions, social organizations, cultural values, symbiotic relations with living things and non-living things – do we conceive of our surrounding world and its difficult situations? (Is our surrounding world singular or plural?) With what temporalities – short-term events, individual life courses, social times, the annual budget cycles, business cycles, nature’s (and perceiving society’s) seasons, various half-lives of radioactive materials, long-term geological and evolutionary times – do we examine the longstanding issues? How can scientists (of different kinds) and anthropologists (of different kinds) constructively challenge each either to think in new ways about the many problems that face humanity? Our session takes up the notion of scales to explore such issues in concrete and in plural terms wherein we follow emerging contours of a problem of common concern. The question about the scales is, in the same instance, the question about the how of subjectivities. Take for instance; an immune system activated within our body transforms the contour of our individuality and subjectivity. The emerging subjectivity is no longer identical to our consciousness or will to be. The transformation of our environment as a result of, say, global warming or nuclear waste pollutions, inevitably has consequences in our intestinal microenvironment. Prostheses, including robotic devices and smart phones, attached to one’s body, transform the body and the embodied mind, and hence, the mode of existence in the world. In this session, we will be presenting concrete ethnographic cases related to these issues, in one way or another, which will be followed by a cross-disciplinary round-table discussion.

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From the Microscopic to the Global: Scaling in Medical Science and Technology (IUAES 2015)

First attempt with materials from Vietnam…

Session at the 2015 IUAES Inter-Congress @ Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand

Time: Wednesday, July 15, 2015: 15:15 – 16:45
Place: Thammasat University, The Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Room 221
ABSTRACT: Medical sciences, technologies and policies operate on different qualitative and quantitative scales. To be able to claim, for example, that a virus is a global health concern requires disjunction, commensuration and boundary making on multiple levels and in multiple locations. How such diverse objects hang together, then, is an open ethnographic question that calls for open anthropological answers. Through their focus on ‘scaling,’ the papers of this panel will attend to the mediation between different ontological realms and will argue that such mediation itself is generative of scale. Scientific, political and cultural claims about size, volume, difference and value emerge through their connections with daily practices of scaling, such as culturing cells in a biology lab, comparing medicinal herbs, or measuring a child’s growth. Scale-making in this sense plays a central role in understanding the dynamic interplay and crossover between laboratory, clinical and public health settings. The central questions that orientate this panel are: How do we as researchers engage simultaneously ­with different qualitative and quantitative scales? and what boundaries and concepts are drawn up or contested in doing so? Building on recent work in anthropology and science studies, we also hope to bring new insights to the discussion about ontological multiplicity. The ethnographically grounded accounts here point to the coexistence of different realities—indigenous, embodied, scientific, etc.—and the tensions between them by showing how multiplicity becomes a matter of scaling in the day-­to­-day practices of medical innovation and intervention from the microscopic to the global. Some papers will highlight how different medical disciplines and conceptual boundaries are realised and contested; others will trace the work of translation across cells, bodies and populations. This attention to the devices and material practices of scaling has the potential to further problematise the division between macro and micro levels of analysis in social research and to offer alternative perspectives to seemingly irresistible categories of globalisation, community, society and nature, among others. Such categories are understood to be no longer singular, but conceptualised and enacted in multiple ways. Furthermore, they are located on continuums rather than as discrete categories.

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Session at the 112th AAA Annual Meeting @ Chicago

Reviewed By: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Time: Wednesday, November 20, 2013: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
Place: Joliet Room (Chicago Hilton)
ABSTRACT: How do our bodies make worlds? How do people shape the horizons of their practices, knowledges, and social relations, not only through physical toil and mental exertion, but through the sensitivities, mobilities, and partial permeabilities of human bodies? Papers in this panel will contend with these questions through the analytic of ‘worlding’ (Zhan 2009, 2012). Through their focus on ‘worlding’ the papers in this panel critically analyze totalizing narratives of the body and of humanity, by attending to makings and crossings of borders between human and non-human, discursive and embodied, and the local and global. With worlding, we see the worlds of human experience not in terms of convergence and closure, but dissemination and proliferation. Bodies do not simply occupy worlds: they partially create them, and never quite in their own image. Swerving away from the ‘image’ to other senses, and from worlds to worldings, this panel explores other bodily metaphors and modalities as loci of worlding. We ask: How do bodies create the social and material worlds they inhabit? How do pre-discursive or embodied experiences structure social relations? How are sensory experiences made into objects of scientific knowledge? How are embodied experiences mediated by medical knowledges and actors? How are worlds and bodies re-shaped when people “act with things” (Ishii 2012) in nature and the environment? The papers of this panel explore these questions in North America and Asia among asthma patients, sufferers of diabetes, cryonicists, wearable technology researchers, and spirit mediums. These papers ethnographically demonstrate the variety and open-endedness of different worldings. Collectively, they show that “the worlds we inhabit are by no means finite— and neither are social inquiries into these worlds” (Zhan 2009, 24). Conversely, they also show how people apprehend the infinity of possible worldings through the finitude of their bodies (Foucault 1966). Furthermore, this panel explores how anthropologists productively negotiate the gap between their written and spoken performance of knowledge, and the visceral, embodied, sensory experiences which they attempt to capture. Papers in this panel will explore how our interlocutors and we as anthropologists negotiate the material-discursive entanglements of the body and its embodiments; humans and their various others; visceral sensations and mediated perceptions; and words and worlds.”