Anthropology as multi-natural ontology?

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Anthropology as multi-natural ontology?

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Titel: Anthropology as multi-natural ontology?
A response to Marianne de Laet’s “Anthropology as social epistemology”
Forfatter: Ratner, Helene
Resume: As her title indicates, Marianne de Laet suggests that social epistemology could be thought of as anthropology, in terms of how this mode of knowing has helped flesh out the social dimensions of scientific knowledge. She does so firstly, by accounting for how anthropological methods and concepts have contributed to science and technology studies (STS) by providing an alternative to “believing the natives” i.e., scientists, hence challenging positivist and objectivist accounts of science. She then specifies selected analytical insights of anthropology. The concepts ‘culture’ and ‘practice’, she argues, enable us to learn how “knowledge is social in an epistemic sense” (2012, 421). She concludes her argument by questioning the distinction between epistemology and ontology, maintaining that anthropology is social epistemology. De Laet touches several key debates in the history of STS and much of her commentary on the sociality of knowledge is difficult to disagree with. There are however, also some elements in her argument with which I wish to engage critically. These include the relationship between anthropology and STS and the relationship between the concepts of culture and ontology. I will do so by drawing my inspiration from a contemporary a debate across STS and anthropology that — like de Laet — regards entanglements of epistemology and ontology, practice, and materiality. This project is also known as post- ANT and empirical philosophy in STS (Mol 2002; Gad and Bruun Jensen 2010, 55-80; Law and Hassard 1999) and lateral, multi-natural and ontological engagements in anthropology (Maurer 2005; Riles 2000; Strathern 2004 [1991]; Carrithers et al. 2010, 152-200; Viveiros de Castro 2004, 463-484). De Laet mentions some of the same sources. I will focus my commentary on these debates’ implications for the concept of culture and “our terminological tinkering” (2012, 420). My aim is to provide a different account of what anthropology has to offer STS and, as a consequence, to keep some interesting tensions open between the conceptual and the empirical, between “us” and “them”, which I believe de Laet resolves too quickly.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/8691
http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-M4
Dato: 2013-05-06
Note: Article from: Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (6): 5-11

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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