SANT8004 PhD Course in Ethnographic Method: The Post Discursive Turn: Assembling, Mobilizing, and Performing

 
 
Norwegian-Russian Barents Sea oil and gas futures workshop, St.
Norwegian-Russian Barents Sea oil and gas futures workshop, St. Petersburg, Russia. Photograph by Arthur Mason
 

Course description

This course explores emerging methods in anthropology associated with the study of expert performance, expert knowledge, and collaborative expert cultures. The starting point for discussion rests with the insight that managing global risk no longer relies on the normalizing processes of modernization discourse, but instead on shaping experience through practices that are post-discursive and post-contextual. For analytical purposes, we identify these practices: Assembling, Mobilizing, and Performing. How do the emerging methods for ethnographic unmasking accommodate a shift from discourse to experience? This course offers critical appraisals of methodological options for studying the new interactions between risk and modernization as they relate to the production and dissemination of expert forecasting and technologies, as well as expertise, institutions, discourse and visualization, and the transmission of expert knowledge.

We will focus on the ethnographic research cycle as it relates to (1) the organization of scientific, consultant, and financial work; (2) the production, commodification and dissemination of expert forecasting and technologies; (3) relationships of expertise to institutions, agenda setting, discourse and visualization; and (4) the transmission of expert knowledge, including the social life of ideas that define what counts as knowledge. Researching experts is complicated because firms are subject to proprietary client relationships. Thus, we will engage in roundtable discussion about establishing protocols for data storage, sharing, and curation, building a framework to support open science and accessibility for future researchers while protecting confidentiality and security for proprietary stakeholders.

For analytical purposes, these problems are separated into four categories: (1) Assembling: data collection drawing on participant observation and apprenticeship methods with the aim of formulating an empirical characterization of internal practices of various forms of expert work; (2) Mobilizing: artefactual data collection consisting of gathering material- and digital-forms of expert knowledge and their deployment. Artefactual data are the end products of the internal practices of assembling, and these data represent integrated packages that capture expert activity of transforming information into knowledge purportedly exhibiting strategic value; (3) Performing: observation studies at events whereby expert work creates communities of interpretation around knowledge, placing emphasis on how different features of research and tools produced by expertise combine with real time interaction to define what counts as knowledge; (4) Curating: approaches to data management that aspire to create novel catalogues as well as forms of public attention and cross disciplinary access to the above data.

In the recent past, the normalizing processes of modernization discourse identified struggles over a common sense vision in terms of a historically and culturally specific ensemble of discursive resources available to members of a given social collectivity in pressing policy claims against one another: officially recognized idioms, vocabularies, paradigms of argumentation, narrative conventions—all modes of subjectification that identified language as providing a tool to reposition agenda setting from a positivist notion (getting media attention, highlighting debate, getting institutions involved) to a focus on communication by a field of actors developing arguments that are self-enclosed and enclaved.

In contrast to this older empirical and analytical form of normalizing processes, we consider how common sense visions are created through expert-based claims that rely upon the generative properties of creating an experience economy. Recent work in the area of emotional geographies considers experience in terms of its socio-spatial mediation and articulation instead of a subjective interior state, suggesting that emotions derive from relational flows, fluxes or currents, and in-between places as much as from objects that can be studied or measured. In this way, knowledge of modernization is bound up with embodied encounters, wherein emotion moves through and between bodies that are not primarily centered on discourses of knowledge, but rather on ceaselessly moving messages of various kinds. Of concern, therefore, is a method for characterizing the ever more explicit engineering of emotion through the use of sensory or aesthetic design in the production of commodities or devices and the way this engineering influences dispositions.

Draft paper by 1 October

The draft paper can be a research statement, field statement, or project proposal that you aim to present to the course and on which you desire feedback from the instructors. The length can be anywhere between 5 and 15 pages, double spaced, and should generally outline themes relevant to the course.

Selected background reading

  • Mitchel Abolafia (1998) Markets as Cultures: An ethnographic approach. In The Laws of the Market, M. Callon, ed. Blackwell.
  • Karen Hoe (2009) Liquidated: an ethnography of Wall Street. Duke U Press.
  • Neil Pollock and Robin Williams (2015) The venues of high tech prediction: Presenting the future at industry analyst conferences. Information and Organization 25, 115–136.
  • Anthony Stavrianakis (2015) From anthropologist to actant: position, impasse, and observation in sociotechnical collaboration. Cultural Anthropology 30, no. 1: 169–189.

Schedule 17-19 October

Monday 17 October – Introduction to course 1.15PM – 6.00PM

Location: Room number 156, pavilion B, Dragvolll Campus

1.15 – 2.00 Afternoon session 1

Welcome: Organizational Anthropology at NTNU

  • Participant Introductions

  • Course Outline

Associated Literature:

Knox, Hannah & Damian O’Doherty, Theo Vurdubakis and Chris Westrup. 2007. Transformative Capacity, Information Technology, and the Making of Business ‘Experts’, The Sociological Review, 55(1):22-41.

2.00 – 3.00 Afternoon session 2

Arthur Mason, Adjunct Associate Professor, Rice University & NTNU

Energy Image: Hydrocarbon Aesthetics of Progress and Form

A review of discursive resources drawn from political philosophy, political science, sociology, and history as well as general modes of affect through influence and movement both within the human body and mind, and between human and non-human objects.

Classical Readings on Discourse:

Beck, Ulrich. 1992. On the Logic of Wealth Distribution and Risk Distribution. Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage. Pp. 1-19.

Beck, Ulrich. 1992. The Politics of Knowledge in Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage. Pp. 19-50.

Foucault, Michel. 1971. Orders of Discourse. Social Science Information, 10(2):7-30.

Fraser, Nancy. 1988. Women, Welfare and The Politics of Need Interpretation. Hypatia (2)1:103-121.

Hajer, Maarten A. 1993. Discourse Coalitions and the Institutionalization of Practice: The Case of Acid Rain in Great Britain, in Frank Fischer and John Forester, editors. The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 43-76.

Latour, Bruno. 1987. Literature, in Science in Action: How to follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Pp. 21-62.

Literature on Present-Ability:

DeSilvey, Caitlin. 2006. Observed Decay: Telling Stories with Mutable Things. Journal of Material Culture, 11(3):318-338.

Klingseis, Katharina. 2011. The Power of Dress in Contemporary Russian Society: On Glamour Discourse and the Everyday Practice of Getting Dressed in Russian, Laboratories, (3)1:84–115.

Taussig, Michael. 2010. I’m so Angry I Made a Sign. Critical Inquiry 39, Autumn, 56-88.

Yurchak, Alexei. 2000. Privatize Your Name: Symbolic Work in a Post-Soviet Linguistic Market. Journal of Sociolinguistics 4/3, 406-434.

Literature on Affect:

Ash, James. 2014. Technology and Affect: Towards a Theory of Inorganically Organised Objects. Emotion, Space and Society, 14:84-90.

Boyer, Dominic. 2005. The Corporeality of Expertise. Ethos, 70(2):243-266.

Csordas, Thomas. 1993. Somatic Modes of Attention. Cultural Anthropology 8(2):135–156.

Seyfert, Robert. 2012. Beyond Personal Feelings and Collective Emotions: Toward a Theory of Social Affect. Theory, Culture & Society 29:27-46.

3.20 – 4.35 Afternoon session 3

Stefan Leins, Senior Researcher, Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich; Research Member, Anthropology of Economy, London School of Economics

Performativity and its Limits: The relationship between economic knowledge and market practices in financial analysis

Lecture Readings:

Callon, Michel. 1998. The Embeddedness of Economic Markets in Economics, in The Laws of the Markets, edited by Michel Callon, 1–57. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Preda, Alex. 2007. The Sociological Approach to Financial Markets Journal of Economic Surveys, (21)3, 506-533.

Zaloom, Caitlin. 2009. How to Read the Future: The Yield Curve, Affect, and Financial Prediction. Public Culture 21:2:245-268.

Hardie, Iain and Donald MacKenzie. 2007. Assembling an Economic Actor: The Agencement of a Hedge Fund. The Sociological Review, 55(1): 57-80.

4.45 – 6.00 Afternoon session 4

Arthur Mason

Inside the Energy Salon: Installation and Illusions of Finality

Associated Literature:

Delacour, Helene and Berard Leca. 2011. A Salon’s Life: Field-Configuring Event, Power and Contestation in a Creative Field, in Negotiating Values in the Creative Industries: Fairs, Festivals and Competitive Events, edited by Brian Moeran and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen. New York: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 36-58.

Pollock, Neil and Robin Williams. 2015. The Venues of High Tech Prediction: Presenting the Future at Industry Analyst Conference. Information and Organization 25, 115–136.

Pollock, Neil and Robin Williams. 2010. The Business of Expectations: How Promissory Organizations Shape Technology, Innovation. Social Studies of Science 40(4) 525–548.

Wallace, Derek. n.d. Temporalizing the Instruments for Managing the Future: The New Zealand Case. Shared draft by permission of author.

7.30PM Dinner Get-Together

Benja Siam Thai Restaurant

Tuesday 18 October – Assembling and Mobilizing 9.15AM - 6.00PM

Location: Room number 156, pavilion B, Dragvoll Campus

9.15 – 10.15 Morning session 1

Vidar Hepsø, Adjunct Professor, Department of Petroleum Engineering and Applied Geophysics and Department of Social Anthropology

Heterogeneous anthropology: involvement in industry and academia, the case of integrated operations 2003-2016.

Bruno Latour’s “heterogeneous  engineering” is applied to the lifecycle of Integrated Operations, as it travels from Norway to Newfoundland and my own involvement in this travel both as Statoil employee and university faculty member.

Associated Literature:

Hepsø, Vidar. 2013. Doing Corporate Ethnography as an Insider (Employee), in Advancing Ethnography in Corporate Environments, edited by Bridgette Jordan. Left Coast Press. Pp. 151-162.

Hepsø, Vidar. 2014. Mediating Business Process Models with an Anthropological Voice: “Double-level Language” in the Norwegian Oil Industry, in Handbook of Anthropology in Business, edited by Rita Denny and Patricia Sunderland. Left Coast Press. Pp. 485-504..

10.30 – 12.30 Morning session 2

Ainur Begim, Vidar Hepsø, Stefan Leins, Arthur Mason – Ethnographic methods roundtable.

Open Discussion about field methods with a concern toward identifying protocols for consent, open science and proprietary recognition (each speaker will talk for 10 minutes), followed by Q and A.

Lunch 12.30 – 13.30

1.30 – 2.30 Afternoon session 1

Colloquium: Ainur Begim, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh

In Pursuit of Profits: Politics of Time, Risk, and Expertise in Financialized Central Asia

Associated Literature:

Miyazaki, Hiro. 2003. The Temporalities of the Market. American Anthropologist, 105(2): 255-265.

Riles, Annelise. 2004. Real Time: Unwinding technocratic and anthropological knowledge. American Ethnologist, 31(3):392-405.

Riles, Annelise. 2013. Market Collaboration: Finance, Culture, and Ethnography after Neoliberalism. American Anthropologist, 115(4): 555–569.

Zaloom, Caitlin. The Productive Life of Risk. Cultural Anthropology, 19(3): 365-391.

2.45 – 3.45 Afternoon session 2

Stefan Leins, Senior Researcher, Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich; Research Member, Anthropology of Economy, London School of Economics

Doing Ethnography On, With, and Around Experts: Experiences from My Fieldwork in a Swiss Financial Institution

Associated Literature:

Abolafia, Mitchel Y. 1998. Markets as Cultures: An Ethnographic Approach, in The Laws of the Markets, edited by Michel Callon. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pp. 69–85.

Zaloom, Caitlan. 2009. How to Read the Future: The Yield Curve, Affect, and Financial Prediction. Public Culture 21:2:245-268.

Leins, Stefan. 2013. Playing the Market? The Role of Risk, Uncertainty and Authority in the Construction of Stock Market Forecasts, in Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk, edited by Rebecca Cassidy, Andrea Pisa, and Claire Loussouarn. New York: Routledge Press. Pp. 218-232.

4.00 – 5.15 Evening session 1

Student presentations and feedback: Part A, with Ainur Begim, Stefan Leins & Arthur Mason

Students will be provided with a total of 15 minutes for presentation, discussion among the group and workshopping each paper:

  • Each student will present the paper within 5 minutes

  • One designated commentator (Ainur, Stefan, Arthur) will provide a 3 minute reaction

  • Open discussion for 7 minutes

Please present main argument(s) and identify the epistemological grounds on which the reasoned argument takes place. This includes methods employed (genealogical, ethnographic, discursive, etc.), temporality and specific contact points emphasized (e.g., how do you aestheticize (polemicize) the truth value in your statements).

5.30 – 6.00 Evening session 2

Arthur Mason, Adjunct Associate Professor, Rice U/NTNU

Empathy for the Graph: Abstractive Imagery as Self-Referential Validation

Associated Literature:

Almklov, Petter G. and Vidar Hepsø. 2011. Between and Beyond Data: How Analogue Field Experience Informs the Interpretation of Remote Data Sources in Petroleum Reservoir Geology. Social Studies of Science 41(4) 539–561.

Boes, Tobias. 2014. Beyond Whole Earth: Planetary Mediation and the Anthropocene. Environmental Humanities, 5:155-170.

Braun, Bruce. 2002. Picturing the Forest in Crisis: Immutable Mobiles, Contested Ecologies, and the Politics of Preservation, in The Intemperate Rainforest: Nature, Culture, and Power on Canada’s West Coast. University of Minnesota Press. Pp: 212-255.

Houser, Heather. 2014. The Aesthetics of Environmental Visualizations: More than Information Ecstasy? Public Culture, 26(2):319-337.

Wednesday 19 October – What Counts as Knowledge 9.15AM – 2.30PM

Location: DI176 Sport Center, Campus Dragvoll

9.15 – 10.15 — Morning session 1

Skype presentation:

Dominic Boyer, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rice University; Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies in the Humanities

Dominic will be joining us at 9:30 from Denmark and talking about his own career development in carving out a strong profile in studies on cultures of expertise; environmental modernities; and energy and the humanities.

Associated Literature:

Boyer, Dominic. 2016. Aeolian extractivism and community wind in Southern Mexico. Public Culture, 2016. (with Cymene Howe)

Boyer, Dominic. 2008. Thinking through the Anthropology of Experts. Anthropology in Action, 15(2):38-46.

Boyer, Dominic. 2005. Visiting Knowledge in Anthropology: An Introduction. Ethnos 70(2):141-148.

10.20 – 12.35 — Morning session 2

Student presentations and feedback: Part B, with Stefan Leins & Arthur Mason

Students will be provided with a total of 15 minutes for presentation, discussion among the group and workshopping each paper:

  • Each student will present the paper within 5 minutes

  • One designated commentator (Stefan, Arthur) will provide a 3 minute reaction

  • Open discussion for 7 minutes

Please present main argument(s) and identify the epistemological grounds on which the reasoned argument takes place. This includes methods employed (genealogical, ethnographic, discursive, etc.), temporality and specific contact points emphasized (e.g., how do you aestheticize (polemicize) the truth value in your statements).

Lunch 12.35 – 1.15

1:15 – 1.45 — Afternoon session 1

Skype presentations:

Lina Dib, Lecturer, Rice University; Artist, TX/RX labs, Houston and Topological Media Lab, Montreal.

Lina will be talking about her work as a multi-disciplinary artist and academic, necessarily involving second- and third-order perspectives on her creative projects. She completed a PhD in Anthropology from Rice University.

1:45 – 2:30 — Afternoon session 2 & wrap-up

Curation and data management: We will cover a few of the essential tools for archiving, making publicly accessible, and organizing for writing purposes, your data. Please download the TRIAL (for free) applications of Lightroom & Scrivener. Please create a WordPress blog, if you do not already have one.

  • Adobe Lightroom: Photo processor and image organizer available for Windows and OS X that allows viewing, organizing, and rescaling of a large number of digital images. It is equipped with standard presets that are important for data management and sharing online

  • WordPress: A free and open-source content management system

  • Scrivener: Word-processing program and outliner that provides management for documents, notes and metadata.

 

Teachers

Practical Information

There is no course fee, however, participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodations expences in Trondheim.  

Course venue: Room 156, pavilion B, Dragvoll Campus

There are no hotels close to campus Dragvoll, but frequent buses from center of Trondheim.

Bus No 5 and bus No 9 stops outside pavilion B at the campus.

Meals: There will be coffee, tea, fruits and biscuits available throughout the course. Please bring you own lunch. On Monday evening we offer dinner at Benja Siam Thai Restaurant. Please send email to ingrid.lehn@ntnu.no if you will not attend the dinner (so that we can inform the restaurant latest Friday 14th how many is attending the dinner). 

 

 

Facts

Time/place: 17-19 October 2016, NTNU Trondheim

Subject title: PHD SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Title: SANT8004 PhD Course in Ethnographic Method

Course title: The Post Discursive Turn: Assembling, Mobilizing, and Performing

Responsible contact: Professor Carla Dahl-Jørgensen

Teachers: Dr. Arthur Mason with Drs. Dominic Boyer (Rice U) and Stefan Leins (U Zurich)

Primarily Study and Level: Social anthropology – doctorate (Ph.D.)

Credits: 10.0 ECTS

AdmissionDeadline for application 15 September 2016.

Registration form 

Send your application/registration

Draft paper submission by 1 October 2016. The draft paper can be a research statement, field statement, or project proposal that you aim to present to the course and on which you desire feedback from the instructors. The length can be anywhere between 5 and 15 pages, double spaced, and should generally outline themes relevant to the course. 

Deadline for submission of essay 1 January 2017