Archive

Rabinow

Paul Rabinow on Foucault & the Contemporary

rabinow

– the host is a bit lacking but Rabinow is probably the most important intellectual of our time…

 

Paul Rabinow is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California (Berkeley), Director of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC), and former Director of Human Practices for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC). He is perhaps most famous for his widely influential commentary and expertise on the French philosopher Michel Foucault. He was a close interlocutor of Michel Foucault, and has edited and interpreted Foucault’s work as well as ramifying it in new directions.

Rabinow is known for his development of an “anthropology of reason”. If anthropology is understood as being composed of anthropos + logos, then anthropology can be taken up as a practice of studying how the mutually productive relations of knowledge, thought, and care are given form within shifting relations of power. More recently, Rabinow has developed a distinctive approach to what he calls an “anthropology of the contemporary” that moves methodologically beyond modernity as an object of study or as a metric to order all inquiries.

Rabinow’s work has consistently confronted the challenge of inventing and practicing new forms of inquiry, writing, and ethics for the human sciences. He argues that currently the dominant knowledge production practices, institutions, and venues for understanding things human in the 21st century are inadequate institutionally and epistemologically. In response, he has designed modes of experimentation and collaboration consisting in focused concept work and the explorations of new forms of case-based inquiry.

classic pdf up for grabs:

Assembling Ethics in an Ecology of Ignorance, Paul Rabinow

Paul Rabinow is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California (Berkeley), Director of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC), and former Director of Human Practices for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC). He is perhaps most famous for his widely influential commentary and expertise on the French philosopher Michel Foucault. He was a close interlocutor of Michel Foucault, and has edited and interpreted Foucault’s work as well as ramifying it in new directions.

Rabinow is known for his development of an “anthropology of reason”. If anthropology is understood as being composed of anthropos + logos, then anthropology can be taken up as a practice of studying how the mutually productive relations of knowledge, thought, and care are given form within shifting relations of power. More recently, Rabinow has developed a distinctive approach to what he calls an “anthropology of the contemporary” that moves methodologically beyond modernity as an object of study or as a metric to order all inquiries.

 Rabinow’s work has consistently confronted the challenge of inventing and practicing new forms of inquiry, writing, and ethics for the human sciences. He argues that currently the dominant knowledge production practices, institutions, and venues for understanding things human in the 21st century are inadequate institutionally and epistemologically. In response, he has designed modes of experimentation and collaboration consisting in focused concept work and the explorations of new forms of case-based inquiry.

 Rabinow has played leading roles in the design of the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC) and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC).

In the video below Katherine Gibson (one half of the amazing JK Gibson-Graham feminist economic-geographer duo; unfortunately Julie Graham died in 2010) delivers a powerful and insightful plenary lecture entitled, ‘An Economic Ethics for the Anthropocene‘ (2011), sponsored by the Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Group, of the Association of American Geographers.

Abstract:  Over Antipode’s 40 years our role as academics has dramatically changed. We have been pushed to adopt the stance of experimental researchers open to what can be learned from current events and to recognize our role in bringing new realities into being. Faced with the daunting prospect of global warming and the apparent stalemate in the formal political sphere, this essay explores how human beings are transformed by, and transformative of, the world in which we find ourselves. We place the hybrid research collective at the center of transformative change. Drawing on the sociology of science we frame research as a process of learning involving a collective of human and more-than-human actants—a process of co-transformation that re/constitutes the world. From this vision of how things change, the essay begins to develop an “economic ethics for the Anthropocene”, documenting ethical practices of economy that involve the being-in-common of humans and the more-than-human world. We hope to stimulate academic interest in expanding and multiplying hybrid research collectives that participate in changing worlds.

Through new hybrid research collectives we have been attempting to produce a new econo-sociality.” – Katherine Gibson

The following is a conversation between Gaymon Bennett and anthropologist Anthony Stavrianakis about the Challenge of Collaboration. The conversation took place in a noisy kitchen at Berkeley University Campus. Since 2006 Anthony Stavrianakis has been working closely with Paul Rabinow on The STIR project (Socio Technical Integration Research), The Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), and the bio hackerspace, Biocurius. Bennett and Stavrianakis also go on to discuss the nature of ontology and the application of philosophical concepts to engaged/practical research.

Audio link: Anthony Stavrianakis, about Collaboration

Anthony Stavrianakis is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. Gaymon Bennett is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Biological Futures, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle.

Also read Stavrianakis and Bennett’s short statement” On Concept Work

  • “I have said in some of the earlier books that anthropology to me is anthropos + logos or logoi, so if you are interested in anthropos which in Greek is the human thing, and if you agree with Foucault and others that there have been different figures of anthropos, including man, and we may or may not be out of that figure, and if you think that the sciences or the logoi are extremely important in shaping the understanding of anthropos, then the anthropology of the contemporary in the way I seek to practice it has to take into account these logoi, and the potentially emerging figure of anthropos, which is with sciences and with these questions about what it means to be a human being.”Paul Rabinow