Socialantropologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet
Aula Magna, 4-6 maj 2012
Det övergripande temat för den planerade konferensen är Mediering, eller på engelska, Mediation. Mediering syftar framför allt på de teknologier som är centrala för reproduktionen av samhälle och kultur. Tal, ljud, bilder och skrift framstår som grundläggande former. I detta sammanhang kan Benedict Andersons diskussion om ”print capitalism”—framförallt dagstidningen—som grundläggande för uppkomsten av nationalism framhävas som ett exempel. Globalisering och framväxten av nya teknologier, framförallt internet, har skapat nya sätt att förstå mediering. Men mediering handlar inte bara om media i snäv mening. I betydelser som förmedling, medling, mellanhandsverksamhet eller mäkleri har den också sin viktiga plats inom fält som ekonomi, religion och politik. Mediering som sådan kan både vara något som är osynligt och tas för givet eller ett problem som väcker frågor om makt och produktionen av mening. Detta har inte minst varit ett centralt tema för antropologi som disciplin sedan mitten på 80-talet, då frågor om reflexivitet kring våra egna försök att beskriva verklighet har blivit alltmer komplicerade. Från detta bredare perspektiv framstår mediering som ett utmärkt tema för en större konferens av detta slag.
Birgit Mayer, Utrecht University
Mediation: Forms and Formats of World-Making
Placing media – understood in a broad sense that surpasses a mere focus on “mass media” and ICT – in the broader framework of mediation calls attention to their socio-cultural embeddedness. Far from taking mediation as secondary to a reality “out there” that can only be represented partially and insufficiently, the starting point of this lecture is an understanding of mediation as key to (trans)forming worlds of lived experience. Mediation, in other words, is at the core of processes of world-making. Practices of mediation, and the media and technologies of reproduction on which they depend, evolve within historically constituted politics of authorization and authentication that address publics through specific aesthetics of persuasion. Approaching media as mediators that do not merely transmit but form and effect the message they convey, I argue, invites to explore processes of world-making “in action.” Based on ethnographic materials from my longstanding work on popular cinema in Ghana and beyond, my lecture will outline why and how “mediation” is a productive concept for anthropologists.
Joint Talk: Culture, Value, Technology: Virtual Interchanges
Bill Maurer, University of California, Irvine
Culture, Value, Technology: Virtual Interchanges (part 1)
Interchange is a term from transit engineering. It is also a term from the payment card industry, but its use there was virtually unknown until several antitrust lawsuits in the late 1970s. The card industry gets its profits from fees on transactions. That fee – that which makes it “non-par” or non-equivalent to the value of the money and the good being exchanged – is interchange. In classic liberal and critical approaches to markets, interchange is hard to figure. The Oxford English Dictionary has not yet recorded the payments industry sense of the term. Intriguingly, it lists a host of meanings all related to reciprocity, in which one thing substitutes for another within the system of relations that enmeshed the first thing. The use of the term interchange in the payments industry makes sense given the history of clearing houses, where paper slips were “interchanged” for one another to settle credit transactions. Again, as with the reciprocity meaning, here one route substitutes for another such that it enters into the same relations with the other route vis a vis the pathways around it, thereby creating no impediment to traffic flow. “Is it money? or a value-add?” This talk takes this seemingly nonsensical question to dive into payments infrastructures. It asks after the pragmatics of money in new technological domains. Starting from a core premise of the European Union’s directive on “electronic money,” in this talk I will investigate how money, value, and payment intertwine and come apart in discussions about and infrastructures for new modes of value transfer. The focus on payment is significant for an anthropology long invested with exchange (from the Maussian tradition) or equivalence (from other critical traditions). These concerns stand to one side of payment, almost as Mauss described for commonplace exchanges alongside kula. Payment, like kula, is a means of value transfer, not value or exchange itself. Regulators assessing digital payment infrastructures and engineers designing them must draw the distinction in order to determine the place and action of “money” as distinct from all other means of value transfer and to determine what is transferred when, say, a person or device uses a digital currency for a digital good. Based on fieldwork in the payments industry and mobile phone enabled financial services, the talk will speculate on futures for money, matter and the interchanges between them. Interchange, encountered in the market of payments, is unrecognizable from the point of view that would know in advance the characteristics of money and commodity.
Tom Boellstorff, University of California, Irvine
Culture, Value, Technology: Virtual Interchanges (part 2)
In this talk, I explore conceptualizing and studying emergent landscapes of the “digital.” We are entering a new phase of human history in which technology and culture “overlay” each other through a range of physical and Internet modalities. Technology is no longer encountered primarily in the computer facility, the movie theater, or even the desktop: new forms of mobility for both devices and data mean that the “online” and the “offline” co-occur to a degree unimaginable just a few years ago. I will examine how rethinking the “digital” can offer helpful tools for responding to these developments in technology and society. At present, this term often does little more than stand in for “computational” or “electronic.” However, if we treat the “digital” as a placeholder, simply marking interest in that which you plug in to run or recharge, our insights will be limited. Returning to the original meaning of “digital” as referring to fingers on a hand, I explore how one might conceptualize the digital in terms of the constitutive role of the gap between the virtual and actual. Pushing this line of inquiry even further, I draw from the etymology of “index” as “forefinger” to suggest that linguistic theories of indexicality offer theoretical resources for understanding how the online and offline come into reciprocal being as they “point” at each other in social practice. A range of methodologies are important for researching these new landscapes of online and offline. Building on a collaborative methods project, I will conclude by discussing what ethnographic methods, properly understood, have to offer in terms of studying and rethinking the “digital” itself.
Marianne Lien, Oslo Universitet
Making things grow; Mess and mediations in the ’city of fish’
Domestication is commonly seen as a form of mediation between nature and culture, or between the realm of humans and that of animals or plants. With the recent expansion of domestication under water, such mediations appear to multiply, and could include those between technology and science, economy and ecology, local communities and global industries, or between the ‘wild’ and the ‘farmed’. But how where such realms established in the first place? And what sort of work is entailed in keeping them apart?
Drawing on fieldwork on salmon farms in Hardanger, Norway, I will point to some ways in which current practices in aquaculture challenge the ways in which we commonly think about nature and the wild. But the aim of my paper is also theoretical. Drawing on Bruno Latour’s notion of mediation and recent work in material semiotics, I will elaborate some frictions between anthropology and ANT, and the ways in which these may inspire us to rethink our notions of community, meaning and context.
Det kommer ges tillfälle för masterstudenter och doktorander att diskutera sina uppsats- och avhandlingsprojekt i ett handledarmöte med seniora antropologer. Skicka in en sida med namn, projekttitel och beskrivning av projektet till 2012sant@gmail senast 15 januari 2012 så matchar vi ihop studenter och handledare.
Det blir ett Roundtable om Publicering med presentationer av Tom Boellstorff, University of California, Irvine, redaktör för American Anthropologist, och Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Oslo Universitet, tidigare redaktör för tidskriften Samtiden och aktiv som skribent i dagstidningar i Skandinavien.
Ett Roundtable planeras om möjligheter att söka gemensamma forskningsprojekt med svenska och norska antropologer. Organisatör: Halvard Vike, Oslo Universitet.
Dessutom planeras en panel om Antropologi utanför universitet som organiseras av Katarina Graffman och Anna Kirath, en panel Till Aud Talles Minne och Filmvisning.
Svenska, norska, engelska.