3rd symposium

 Posthumanist Explorations between Anthropology and Science Studies

International Conference and Workshop at Kyoto University

etghp_sympo2013smallDate: March 3-4, 2012 (Saturday and Sunday)
Venue: Kyoto University, Institute for Research in Humanities (Main Bldg., Conference Room)
access map: http://www.zinbun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/e/institute/access-institute/access_e.htm
Open to public. Admission Free. No registration is required.


Whereas artifacts, animals and all sorts of otherworldly creatures have long occupied the attention of anthropologists, recent encounters with science and technology studies have stimulated a novel interest in ecological thinking. Part of the impetus for this research comes from a shared critical stance towards the anthropocentric bias of social research. Another important issue central to these debates has been a growing emphasis on innovation at the ethnographic level. Posthumanist approaches call for a closer attention to nonhuman entities by exploring their role in what constitutes the senses, persons, worlds, etc. This conference will reflect on these conceptual and methodological currents in anthropology and beyond with the participation of scholars from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. Some of the key concerns and question we shall focus on are: What disciplinary boundaries have to be crossed or permeated to reveal otherwise unattended links between human and nonhuman ways of acting in the world? What are the distinguishing features of these analytic experimentations when compared to earlier work in ecological and cultural anthropology? How do the variety of posthumanist trends, from actor-network theory to multispecies ethnography and ontological anthropology, differ from and relate to each other? We hope to address these questions by both discussing new theoretical challenges and presenting diverse ethnographic cases relevant to the ongoing transformations of the world—a world, which is populated with humans and animate non-humans alongside techniques, and anthropologists who try to understand them.


 Guest Speakers

Matei Candea (University of Cambridge)
Miho Ishii (Kyoto University)
Natasha Myers (York University)
Mei Zhan (University of California, Irvine) 

Workshop Presenters

Moe Nakazora (JSPS/Kyoto University)
Lea Schick (IT University, Copenhagen)
Wakana Suzuki (Osaka University) 


Day 1 (Graduate Workshop)

13:30  Introduction

13:45  The Care of the Cells: Body, Care and Affect
             Wakana Suzuki (Osaka University)
Comments by Natasha Myers (York University)

14:45  (Coffee Break)

14:55  Infrastructuring Smart Grid Environments: Technological Artifacts, Subjectpositions and ‘Natures’
             Lea Schick (IT University, Copenhagen)
Comments by Mei Zhan (University of California, Irvine)

15:55  (Coffee Break)

16:05  Pure Gifts for Future Benefit? Giving Form to Subject in the Biodiversity Databasing Project in India
             Moe Nakazora (JSPS/Kyoto University)
Comments by Matei Candea (University of Cambridge)

17:15  Closing comments by Paul Hansen (Tsukuba University)

Day 2 (International Symposium)

10:00 Moderator/Introductory Remarks by Gergely Mohácsi (Osaka University)

10:15  Excitable Tissues: Vocalities and Temporalities in Botanical Experiments
             Natasha Myers (York University)

11:15   (Coffee Break)

11:30   Disharmony Undivided: Thinking, Doing and Being Posthuman through Daosim
Mei Zhan (University of California, Irvine)

12:30  (Lunch Break)

13:30  The Ecology of Transaction: Dividual Persons, Spirits, and Machinery in the Special Economic Zone in South India
Miho Ishii (Kyoto University)

14:30  Not feeding (or eating) meerkats
             Matei Candea (University of Cambridge)

15:30  (Coffee Break)

15:45  General Discussion


For further details contact:

Atsuro Morita (Osaka University) morita@hus.osaka-u.ac.jp, or
Gergely Mohacsi (Keio University) mohacska@z3.keio.jp

6th workshop

6th Ethnographies of Science & Technology Workshop

At the Crossroads of Medical and Cultural Anthropology

– Culture, Medicine, Comparison –


Date and Time: August 29, 2012, 15:00~18:00
Venue: G-sec Lab, 6F, East Building, Mita Campus, Keio University
Access: http://www.keio.ac.jp/access.html

Open to public. Admission Free. No registration is required.
This event will be held in English; summary in Japanese is provided after each talk.
For further details contact: Gergely Mohacsi (mohacska@z3.keio.jp)


15:00 Introductory Remarks

     Gergely Mohacsi (CARLS, Keio University)

15:15 Beyond the Horizon: An Inquiry into the Outermost Reaches of the

     Anthropological Gaze and the Comparative Method

     Allan Young (McGill University)

16:15 (Coffee Break)

16:30 Roundtable Discussion

 Coordinator: Gergely Mohácsi (Keio University)


Allan Young (McGill University)
Pino Schirippa (University of Rome)
Kitanaka Junko (Keio University)
Yamazaki Goro (Osaka University)
Hamada Akinori (JSPS)

17:30 General Discussion
Coordinator: Miyasaka Keizo (Keio University)


The suggested motion for the roundtable discussion is:

Medical anthropology illuminates the recursive relationship between the anthropological tool of comparison and human differences.

Physicians and other medical professionals—not to mention patients—are only very rarely interested in the debates of medical anthropologists. One reason for this is that medical anthropology will never be able to cure people; one field, however, where medical anthropologists can contribute is (cultural) anthropology. Comparison is one issue/method where such a contribution is possible. It used to be the ultimate method in anthropology, but for a long time it is rather a target of criticism than anything else. Medical anthropologists, however, can provide many examples of how people—patients, physicians, epidemiologists, brain scientists, etc.—actually do comparisons all the time. We should rethink comparison as both a method and a daily practice (in medicine, and else) that links ethnography and anthropology. Whatever we think about its correctness or validity, comparison is one way people do their cultures, their religions, their sciences, their ethnicities, their gender, etc. It is therefore a very good example how anthropologists do exactly what their informants do—but it is very rarely admitted (despite the many other examples for such a recursive relationship in anthropology. The argument here is that admitting this relationship between the method and subject of ethnography may lead to new innovations in anthropological theory and practice, and that medical anthropology has a pivotal role there.

5th workshop

5th Ethnographies of Science & Technology Workshop


Casper Bruun Jensen
(IT University of Copenhagen)

【場所】大阪大学人間科学研究科(吹田キャンパス)2階 会議室B
問い合わせ先:鈴木 和歌奈(wakana.s.kyoto@gmail.com)。
※ テキストについてはこちらから入手ください。


「存在論的転換」という言葉が、昨今日本でも多くの人類学者の口に上るようになってきました。しかしながら、この言葉が何をさしているのかは必ずしも明白ではありません。たとえば、科学技術を研究する人類学者たちは、自然についての科学的事実が科学の実践を通して立ち現れるというSTSの議論に依拠して、知識についての人類学的研究をモノの自然的/技術的構成も含んだものに拡張することを主張してきました。一方、Viveiros de Castroらの影響を受けた人々は、存在論を世界認識のあり方の根源的な他者性をとらえる方法として主張しています。さらに、こうした議論は、Roy WagnerからMarilyn Strathernに至る民族誌的な実践のイノベーションと絡み合ってきました。そのため、現在、存在論をめぐる議論はある種の混乱状態にあるように思われます。今回の研究会では、存在論をめぐってデンマーク人類学会で戦わされた論争のコメンタリーとして、Christopher Gad, Casper Jensen, Brit Ross Winthereikが共著した論文を取り上げます。この論文で著者たちは、STSと人類学の異同に注目しながら、存在論をめぐる議論の状況の整理を試みています。当日は、著者の一人であるCasper Jensenさんとともにこの問題を考えたいと思います。なお、当日はテキストを読んでくることを参加の条件とさせていただきます。


Christopher Gad, Casper Bruun Jensen & Brit Ross Winthereik (manuscript) “Practical Ontology: Worlds in STS and Anthropology” (English translation of the original Danish text appeared in “Tidsskriftet Antropologi” in 2012).

4th workshop

4th Ethnographies of Science & Technology Workshop

Ontologies and Transubstantialist Ontology

Aurélie Névot
(CNRS, French National Centre for Scientific Research)

問い合わせ先:森田敦郎 morita@hus.osaka-u.ac.jp


The new millennium has so far marked an “ontological turning point” in anthropology. “Anthropology of Culture must be coupled with Anthropology of Nature” writes the French anthropologist Philippe Descola in Par-delà nature et culture, in his plan to rethink the Culture-Nature relationship by undertaking a “monistic anthropology” which would put an end to the traditional opposition between Nature and Culture and would then split with its institutional heritage, with its “constitutive dualism”. Another French anthropologist, Albert Piette, has recently criticized the relationist and culturalist “epistemological climate”, and in doing so, descolian anthropology. He foresees a method he calls “phenomenography” or else “ontography” in order to “break free of the socio-cultural focus to observe people, one by one, in their living continuity”. Thus, he proposes to develop an “ontic” perspective. It consists in studying the “existing”, in questioning how those beings are, how they exist in but also beyond their relationship with humans. In this sense, ontic methodology is anti-structuralist, anti-fonctionalist, anti-sociological, and anti-relationist. If P. Descola is a “relationist”, A. Piette could be seen as an existentialist. As for the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, who argues that relationship is the “master notion” of anthropology, he advocates the study of the indigenous point of view, ardently criticizing the concept of “agency” and other notions referring to substantiality.In such an epistemological context, what could be said if “relationship” serves as a basis for representations of the world? If, more to the point, exchange is considered as an endogenous flagship concept, if the elements observed in the structure do not serve as markers for anthropological conceptualization, but if it is what links the elements involved in the local discourse that have to be conceptualized? What can one say if in-structure prevails over structure? If the relationship – the link associated with matter, substance – is the bedrock of the belief system? These questions emerge from studying ethnographic material from a Chinese minority, because the rituality of their shamans called “Masters of Psalmody”, bimo, does not fit de facto into the “relationist” theory. In their apprehension of the world, more than the ritual structure, it is indeed the movement/the shifting between bodies inside the ritual structure that prevails. We will try to defend this idea in order to draft a new ontological approach: “transubstantialist ontology”.



2nd symposium

Ethnographic Engagements with Technocultural Practices

International Symposium and Workshop at Osaka University

etghp_sympo2012smallDate: March 3-4, 2012 (Saturday and Sunday)
Venue: Osaka University Hall (formerly Igo-kan, Toyonaka Campus)
access map: http://www.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/access/toyonaka.html
Open to public. Admission Free. No registration is required.


Scientific and local knowledge making are constantly at play in our world, and ethnographers engage with them in ways that are contingent to the modes of the encounter. This relatively novel ethnographic condition has been fertile ground for the ongoing dissatisfaction with the positivist division between theory and practice and led many researchers to detailed study of scientific work. What are the conceptual challenges that need to be addressed if the relationship between science and local knowledges is taken up laterally? How does the interplay of ethnographic and technocultural practices affect different pathways of situating ourselves (and others) between nature and culture? These are some of the questions that we hope to address. The symposium will bring together scholars from anthropology and science and technology studies to account for the methodological richness of this new mode of ethnographic engagement.


Following the international symposium of the same title, a workshop for young scholars will be held at the Osaka University Hall on March 4, 2012. The purpose of this event is to give an opportunity for graduate students and postgraduate researchers of anthropology and related fields to present their materials in English in a friendly and informal atmosphere and to receive comments from our invited guests.


 Guest Speakers

Helen Verran (University of Melbourne)
Casper B. Jensen (IT University of Copenhagen)
Koji Sasaki (JSPS)
Hirokazu Miyazaki (Cornell University) 

Workshop Presenters

Group 1
NISHI Makoto (Kyoto University)
NAKAZORA Moe (University of Tokyo)
WAKAMATSU Fumitaka (Harvard University)

Group 2
Ece ÖYKEN (University of Tokyo)
UESUGI Takeshi (McGill University)
Greg de ST. MAURICE (U.of Pittsburgh, Visiting Researcher at Minpaku)
TAKEMURA Yoshiaki (Osaka University)
NOBORI Kukiko (Osaka University)

Group 3
YOSHIDA Naofumi (Waseda University)
NAKATANI Kazuto (Kyoto University)
UMEDA Yuna (Yamaguchi University)
WATANABE Noriko (Kyoto University)


 Day 1 (International Symposium)

10:00  Opening Remarks

10:10  Introduction
         Atsuro Morita (Osaka University) and Gergely Mohácsi (Keio University)

10:50  Ethnography of Numbers
           Helen Verran (University of Melbourne)

11:30   Q&A session

11:40   Recursive Partnership, Recursive Infrastructure, Recursive Ethnography
           Casper Bruun Jensen (IT University of Copenhagen)

12:20  Q&A session

12:30  (Lunch)

13:30  Relaying Agencies in Knowledge: Minor intellectuals and anthropologist
           Koji Sasaki (University of Tokyo)

14:10  Q&A session

14:20  The Gift in Finance
           Hirokazu Miyazaki (Cornell University)

15:00  Q&A session

15:10  (Coffee break)

15:30  General Comments
           Kasuga Naoki (Hitotsubashi University)
Kurimoto Eisei (Osaka University)

16:00  Discussion

Day 2 (Graduate Workshop)

11:30 Lunch Meeting (everybody is welcome)

13:00              PRESENTATIONS in 3 groups
Group 1 (by Prof. Verran)
Group 2 (by Prof. Miyazaki)
Group 3 (by Prof. Jensen)

15:45              (Coffee Break)

16:00  General Discussion (until 16:45)

For further details contact:

Atsuro Morita (Osaka University) morita@hus.osaka-u.ac.jp, or
Gergely Mohacsi (Keio University) mohacska@z3.keio.jp
Symposium HP: http://anthropology.hus.osaka-u.ac.jp/120303.html

3rd workshop

3rd Ethnographies of Science & Technology Workshop

Onto-logical Things and Anthropological Matters

 Date and Time: February 11, 2012, 14:30~17:00
Venue: Seminar Room, East Building, Mita Campus, Keio University
Access: http://www.keio.ac.jp/access.html

Open to public. Admission Free. No registration is required.
This event will be held in English; no interpretation provided.
For further details contact: Gergely Mohacsi (mohacska@z3.keio.jp)


As part of material cultures or symbolic systems, artifacts are established subjects of anthropological conceptualization. Some have been looking for the footprints of ancient civilizations at archeological sites, while others have been tracing the manifestation of social order through gifts and commodities. The basic concern of most, if not all, of these approaches has been with the ways in which things are used and understood by humans. This workshop starts from a different question, namely, what things do? Such an ontological shift has been the topic of a series of experimental work during the past decade. Bizarre, as it may sound, the promise of such a shift is that it enables us to look beyond the human-centered framework of anthropology. The two presenters will propose two different ways to do so, followed by a discussion including other possibilities.


14:30 Introductory Remarks

     Miyasaka Keizo (Cultural Anthropology, Keio University)

14:45 Ontological Phase-Shifts: The Electronic Patient Record, ca. 1995

     Casper B. Jensen (IT University of Copenhagen)

15:30 Where the Wild Things Are: Can we conceive of objects beyond/before relationality?

    Fabio Raphael Gygi (Doshisha University, Department of Sociology)

16:15 (Coffee Break)

16:30 General Discussion

  Moderator: Mohacsi Gergely (CARLS, Keio University)

1st workshop

1st Ethnographies of Science & Technology Workshop

Preventive Potentials: On Surveillance and Popular Culture

 Christopher Gad
(Assistant Professor, IT University of Copenhagen)


【場所】京都大学北部キャンパス・農学生命科学研究棟 1F 104号室


 問い合わせ先:森田敦郎 morita@hus.osaka-u.ac.jp


This talk uses the movie Minority Report (2002) as an entry point for discussing conceptions of surveillance technologies and their preventive capacities. The technological research project Intelligent Surveillance Systems located in Belfast shares a vision with MR: that it is possible to construct surveillance systems that are able to foresee criminal acts and thus to prevent them from happening. We argue that the movie exemplifies that technological development and popular culture share dreams, ideas and visions. Popular culture informs technological development and vice versa. The talk explores this relation and how investigating popular cultural sources in detail can expand discussions about surveillance and the (future) capacities of technology. 


発表者紹介:Gad氏は、監視システム(surveillance technology)を主にactor-network theory (ANT) の観点から研究されてきました。近年では、人類学とくにMarilyn Strathernらの研究からインスパイアされたユニークな研究をとおして、ANTの視点をさらに発展させようとしています。主論文:On the Consequences of Post-ANT, Science, Technology and Human Values 35(1)。

2nd workshop

2nd Ethnographies of Science & Technology Workshop


Human-Machine Relations in the Information Society




 問い合わせ先:森田敦郎 morita@hus.osaka-u.ac.jp


That technology is growing ‘exponentially’ is nearly a given in the current historical moment. With each passing year, computers become faster, electronic storage units become more capacious, and network capacities multiply. Moore’s Law, a prediction made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, suggested that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit might double every 18 months. This is said to have held true up until the present, providing the primary engine powering the information economy. According to transhumanist futurist Ray Kurzweil, the exponential is also marker of the limit of human knowledge and capability: humans are linear creatures who can only barely imagine the power of exponential growth. In his view, humanity faces an existential crisis: it must become exponential by fusing with exponentially growing technology, or remain linear and obsolete as the rest of the technological world flies by. The exponential curve is a visual and narrative device for imagining near and distant futures. It points to the limits of our biology and the vastness of the human-machine future; the exhilaration of riding the accelerating wavefront of technological evolution and the terror of facing improbable catastrophes – which, as our speed through human history increases, become near certainties. Through the ‘exponential,’ these and other possible futures come to weigh on actors in the present. In this paper, I draw on an initial analysis of my fieldwork among transhumanists in North America to sketch the outlines of a “regime of anticipation” (Adams, Murphy and Clarke, 2009) which I tentatively call ‘exponential’ – a politics which joins sensual and cognitive interfaces of human bodies and information technologies with the hopes and anxieties of living in an information society. Drawing on my fieldwork, I will discuss and offer the exponential as a figure for thinking about how particular visions of the future are experienced and acted upon by transhumanists living in North America. See more in: Adams, V., Murphy, M., & Clarke, A. E. (2009). Anticipation: Technoscience, life, affect, temporality. Subjectivity (28): 246-265.


14:00 Introductory Remarks

     Atsuro Morita (Department of Anthropology, Osaka University)

14:15 Hope Springs Exponential: Anticipation, Human-Machine Relations, and Exponential Politics of an Information Society

     Grant Jun Otsuki (Department of Anthropology, Toronto University)

15:15 Discussant

  Gergely Mohacsi (CARLS, Keio University)

15:30 General Discussion

1st symposium

Ethnographic Reflections on Science and Technology

International Workshop at Osaka University


etghp_sympo2009smallDate and Time: July 20th (Mon), 2009 13:00-18:00
Venue: Lecture Room #207 (Humaine Hall), 2nd floor of East Building of School of Human Sciences (Suita Campus, Osaka University)
Open to public. Admission Free. No registration is required. 


This workshop will investigate some novel uses of the comparative method at the intersection of science studies and anthropology through ethnographic accounts of technoscience from/of Japan. Since its inception, much of the anthropological agenda has been revolving around various methods of comparison. While it has become something of a reflex to ask questions of similarity and difference, such comparative work has also provided an easy target for critics of simplification and reductionism. But, one may ask, aren’t these arguments themselves acts of comparison? Comparing may be more complex than it seems at a first glance. In the field, anthropologists work to recognize differences through continuously contrasting their findings with more commonsensical knowledge brought from home or elsewhere in order to make sense of the links between the particular and the general. On the other hand, however, such comparative work is also part and parcel of the very practices that are being studied. It is this implicit interplay between different scales of comparison that speakers of the workshop will reflect upon by examining complex ontologies of technoscientific praxis. In today’s globalizing world, knowledge is under constant negotiation and reordering around conflicting ideas of progress and development. Nowhere is it more evident than in the daily practices of living and working with old and new technologies. Scientist, mechanics, physicians and farmers whom anthropologists encounter in the field see development, uniqueness or backwardness in their innovations in the midst of complex relations, which connect local innovations and routines with the transnational circulation of people, objects and information. How do these circulations and unexpected connections stimulate us, innovators and users, to make comparisons in our daily engagements with technologies? How should we, anthropologists, reflect on the fact that while comparisons make connections, connections make comparisons, as well? By focusing on the relationship between ethnographies of Japanese science and the Japanese ethnography of foreign technologies, we will explore these recursive relations between comparisons and connections to challenge dominant modes of anthropological thinking.


 Anders Blok (Sociology, Copenhagen University)
Ryan Sayre (Anthropology, Yale University)
Annelise Riles (Cornell School of Law, Cornell University)


 13:00 Welcoming Message by Kasuga Naoki

13:10 – 15:00 Session I
Introduction: Ethnographic Reflections on Science and Technology
Mohácsi Gergely (Anthropology, The University of Tokyo)
Morita Atsuro (Anthropology, Osaka University)
Comparative Globalities: Actor-network Theory and the Topologies of Japanese Whales
Anders Blok (Sociology, Copenhagen University)
Rendering the Unthought into the Thought: How Disaster Preparedness Experts are Futzing with the Notion of Certainty
Ryan Sayre (Anthropology, Yale University)

15:00 (Coffee Break)

15:15 – 16:45 Session II
Compelled to Compare: Traveling Machines, Uncertainty and Emergent Relations in Thai Indigenous Engineering
Morita Atsuro (Anthropology, Osaka University)
Missing Hormones, Working Men and Other Metabolic Interferences
Mohácsi Gergely (Anthropology, The University of Tokyo)

16:45 (Coffee Break)

17:00 Wrap-up and Discussion
General Comment by Annelise Riles (Cornell School of Law, Cornell University)
General Discussion

For further details contact:

Atsuro Morita (Osaka University) morita@hus.osaka-u.ac.jp, or
Gergely Mohacsi (The University of Tokyo) mohacska46@gmail.com
Symposium HP: http://gcoe.hus.osaka-u.ac.jp/090720workshop.html