Past events


City: Halle (Saale), Germany
Venue: University of Halle
Organizer: Research Cluster "Society and Culture in Motion" and DFG Priority Program 1448 "Adaptation and Creativity in Africa"

The lecture argues that the socio-history of quantification is not a simple sub-domain of Science and Technology Studies. On the contrary, it can provide tools for investigating a wide range of social situations from a new and interesting perspective. We begin by providing a new definition of quantification. Next we consider the way numbers permeate society to its very core, forming rich veins of data for social science research. From this process, referred to here as “quantitative marbling,” three distinct categories emerge: data veins produced by governments, those produced by social activists (often contesting the former), and lastly, those produced by non-governmental global networks. We conclude by suggesting that social processes aiming to free certain social aggregates of quantitative analysis are also worthy of attention.

Emmanuel Didier is a Full Professor at the Centre Maurice Halbwachs at École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and a member of the Center for the Study of Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a founding member of EpiDaPo (Epigenetics, Data, Politics), initially a joint research unit of CNRS and UCLA. He taught at the University of Chicago and at UCLA and now teaches at École Normale Supérieure and École Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Économique, both in Paris.

City: Konstanz
Venue: University of Konstanz
Organizer: Tatjana Thelen and Christof Lammer

(Panel at the GAA-Conference 2019 at the University of Konstanz)

It has become a truism in anthropology that kinship is negotiated. The idea that kinship is a universal human relation that links people even without their knowledge is neverthel- ess gaining persuasive power. Based on this assumption, diverse technologies are being developed and applied to measuring kinship in order to achieve closure in negotiations of relatedness. For example, the routine application of paternity tests and genomic testing seems to put an end to insecure identities and ethnic or national belonging. The increasing importance of such ‘proofs’ of kinship to diverse claims to inclusion and entitlement, displays an interesting tension. At a time when the seeming voluntariness of ‘new’ family forms is celebrated as an expression of tolerance and supposedly declining importance of kinship in ‘modern’ societies, the ‘end of negotiation’ could increasingly sustain and consolidate a naturalization of social and political inequalities.

This workshop sets out to interrogate the enduring — or even increasing — importance of kinship, as well as its practical and epistemological consequences. First, we seek to discuss ways in which ideas of kinship evolve and are translated into diverse scientific, bureaucratic and legal technologies for testing, measuring and modelling kin relations. Secondly, we are interested in the consequences of converting degrees of kinship into (at least temporarily) non-negotiable facts: such determinations often entail obligations (e.g., care, knowledge of health risks or financial support) and entitlements (e.g., to inheritance, citizenship, family reunification, affirmative action or insurance and compensation payments). Thus, we invite contributions that examine the development and application of technologies that aim at establishing the truth of kinship and discuss their wider implications.

Call for Papers

In this monthly colloquium we discuss participants’ work in progress and selected authors. Since the number of participants is restricted, new participants are kindly requested to approach Sung-Joon Park well in advance.

Current participants:
Stefanie BognitzLorenz GoschArmin Höland, David Kananizadeh, Laura Matt, Fazil MoradiSung-Joon ParkRichard RottenburgTimm SureauBertram TurnerRené Umlauf

City: Johannesburg
Venue: WiSER
Organizer: Faeeza Ballim, Keith Breckenridge, Iginio Gagliardone, Richard Rottenburg

This workshop takes its focus from the upheaval in popular and scholarly understandings of the intellectual (and political) prospects of the networked planet. A decade ago advocates and precocious users were celebrating the levelling, democratic and emancipatory possibilities of the Internet, and of social media platforms in particular.  Today an elaborated loathing of these technologies and their political effects — succinctly captured by the UK Channel 4 series Black Mirror — has become common and politically compelling. Popular and scholarly disillusionment with the promises of the network society now seems close to self-evident, and is the subject of daily reports in the major international newspapers.  Much more difficult to assess is the critical and political power of the dystopian critique of cybernetics — as the emergent field was named in 1948 by Norbert Wiener — that emerges from the humanist tradition. In this workshop we propose an assessment of these two movements, and their mutual engagement, in the special circumstances of the African university.

Click here for the full rationale.

City: Freetown
Venue: Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone
Organizer: Sung-Joon Park, Sylvanus Spencer, Susan Erikson, David Kananizadeh

International Summer School in Medical Anthropology
Methods and Analysis Training for Planetary Care
(Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation “Knowledge for Tommorow”)

From Disasters to Planetary Care: What the August 2017 mudslide in Sierra Leone can teach us about accountability, postcolonial urban experiences, and healthy cities in the Anthropocene