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