nimamz Annotations

What questions or elaborations do you have about this artifact?

Friday, August 14, 2020 - 3:39pm

This is a (loaded) question about Meredith Sattler's Biosphere 2 diagram. (I'm late and not participating in the related Sketch, but saw no response on the interesting input, found it a shame, and decided to pose my question anyway.)

Meredith, you write that you're interested in the readings and mis-readings of the diagram. How would you qualify my following reading?

Salient to me are the arrows that go everywhere and especially beyond a second group of thicker lines that resemble borders and domains. The domains order and arrange the textual symbols, whereas the arrows arguably defy this ordering. I am here reminded of what Bruno Latour calls the (Modern's) double process of purification (into domains, predominantly binary) and hybridization. Now, I can trust the arrows being actual relations lending themselves well to being traced, but what are the thick-lined domains outside this visualization, I wonder?

Do I read it right--or do I mis-read--that they reproduce or risk reproducing the good old nature-culture dualism?

Perhaps you want to relate to your area of experience in architecture and environmental management in responding; how would you assess the distribution of arrows (associations) and domains in architecture, and in environmental management?

Thank you for this and other inspiring contributions to this workshop

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What concepts and/or associated literatures does this artifact bring to mind?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 11:14am

Second Review for Cheri's Beyond Academia Sketch Annotation (adopting the PECE terminology is getting increasinly weird!)

The main concepts I think of reading the two questions is "cosmopolitics", generally a proposal for a new view of relating science (cosmos) and politics, c.q. power/knowledge, in a way that gives both proper room to operate in contact with the other. See Isabelle Stengers' The Cosmopolitical Proposal, a short afterword to her magnum opus Cosmopolitcs. Possible other entries are Bruno Latour's Whose Cosmos? Which Cosmopolitics? written with Ulrich Beck as interlocutor and with reference to the case of the first encounter of Castillians with Amerindians. Mario Blaser and Marisol de la Cadena have tried to further work out this approach in case of the Indigenous peoples in the America's.Their collaborativeĀ A World of Many World is their latest.

Cosmopolitics is not a model to be applied. It may bring up difficult questions rather than directly help map the issues investigated here. Still, I mention these names because "power structure" within Indigenous communities is mentioned in the artifact, which also has its obvious counterparts in Western institutions, and so a connection is evinced and then questioned between politics and knowledge. It might help one to look at power/knowledge on both sides with more symmetry and also to find a way out falling for two extremes of "automatic" respect and quick denunciation depending on signs of politcs in knowledge.

More specifically, I mention cosmopolitics because it could help clarify why "Indigenous knowledge is often characterized as if it is automatically positive." That is, they could be tolerated and respected asĀ belief with sacred character, not to be insulted, but neither to be taken as real "knowledge", a case of politeness that is cosmopolitcally incorrect. It makes in the end for the expert's report to count over and above the knowledge of others and Others.

I also mention cosmopolitics because it has a way of relating to 'ends' mentioned in the second topical question in the artifact. Ends, that is, a cosmos that is always under construction, whose ends mutate as much as the rest. It might problematize taking 'knowledge' as means to ends, which arguably itself is a Western and economic imposition. It could open up the question of how occupants of different cultures ("worlds") take the nature of knowledge to be in the first place, so that it become possible to work out through the most fundamental incompatibilities and foregoing assumptions that most often advantage the Western interlocutors in these relations. I hope all this give sufficient reason for consulting this literature.

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What insights did you gain from this artifact?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 9:52am

Thank you, Cheri. This spoke to my related concerns around ways of juxaposing (comparing, contrasting, confronting) ways of knowing and ways of living and existing with symmetry in mind (#symmetric anthropology) and the challenges involved here and in the light of (Western) power disbalances. Here I expose my associations with regard to the topic of "beyond academia" in reading your Annotation, likely just stating the obvious. In a second review I will try to engage with the two very interesting questions asked.

Here "beyond academia" figures, for me, in ways that help us get beyond theory-practice/application dualism. It is not only about taking knowledge here and making it useful somewhere else. It is about a pertinent set of relations, bi-directional, between academia and things outside it--here military institutions as well as communities of Indigenous peoples. First there is the ethnographer who has worked outside academia, or has had experiences that are unrepresented within academia, and now she comes in, and brings insights, questions, viewpoints. She arrives from beyond, to a place where she can pose questions. I think of the Greek meaning of "school", free time, the place to tinker and to ask questions, which are always related to what is outside the school. The academy should be such a place (and arguably it is lacking in that respect)! It speaks to the value of welcoming students from every possible walk of life, and should moreover accomodate their experience, rather than washing over everything with 'Western science'.

Then there is the will to go out, in the other direction, to translate the insights gained after the questions, try them, profess them. This is much focused upon in our times. (E.g. how many universities produce graduates who leave for the industry and never read another academic paper!)

And thirdly there is a view of the (non-)relation between military institutions and Indigenous communities between which our ethnographer also travels. This relation forms a third axis, where academic action sees a possibility for intervention and mediation, for change. Here there are at least 3 parties, 3 sets of practices and ecologies that could learn to engage each other (academy/military/Indigenous community). I think this is (potentially) exemplified in this artifact. I also think this is a more fruitfull, albeit immensely difficult, way of thinking of "beyond academia"--the difference might seem slight, but can be a little wedge that makes a big difference later on. It can direct us towards (setting up) negotiation tables and other confrontations, and ongoing engagement and intervention, whilst realizing that knowledge is never final, that the academic is also just one of those parties involved, with a specific value to deliver. It helps the academic to insert herself not anymore as an expert, whose advice can then can be adopted or ignored, but as someone who is able to help confront power/knowledges in a constructive way. This is what I think of when reading the preface to the questions in this artifcat.

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