requiem for certainty

Posts Tagged ‘collaboration

‘Critical Inquiry’ article

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I have an article out in the Summer 2013 issue of the (truly excellent!) journal Critical Inquiry.  The article is co-authored with anthropologist Tomas Matza (now at Duke Univ.), a collaborator I met while I was down at UC Santa Cruz (when Tomas was over at Stanford finishing up his Ph.D.).  The article argues, in Foucault’s case at least, for the separability of analytics (or methods) and the concepts (or ideas) that these methods are used to produce. The argument is meant to be generalizable to other instances, but it is genealogy that matters for us here.  We’re both very pleased to have this come out in Critical Inquiry.  Thanks to many of you (cited in the article) for feedback on earlier versions.

The article is titled “Putting Foucault to Work: Analytic and Concept in Foucaultian Inquiry” and here is the abstract:”Is there a single area of intellectual inquiry in the humanities and social sciences where the work of Michel Foucault is not taken seriously? Discipline, biopolitics, governmentality, power/knowledge, subjectivation, genealogy, archaeology, problematization—these are just a few of the many Foucaultisms that have been adopted in fields such as philosophy, sociology, cultural anthropology, political science, history, literary studies, area studies, and much else besides. Just a short list of the forms of Foucault’s influence would necessarily include certain of his philosophical commitments, methodological strategies, discursive resources, and materials for reflection.

Cheers.  Let me know your thoughts.

Written by Colin Koopman

July 23, 2013 at 5:18 am

Participation and Collaboration

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I recently attended a talk at UO by Gardner Campbell, who works on New Media, Lit, & Pedagogy (and more) at Baylor U..  The focus of the talk was why we as educators should take new media, digital technologies, and networking quite seriously.  I am sold, but of course I already bought in some time ago (to the extent that I, then a mere post-doc, and now a mere newly-minted t-t asst. has any purchasing power).

I also applaud Campbell for the way he brings new media tools and projects into his classes.  We are at the stage of initial inquiry with all this stuff.  This means that nobody knows and that it is time for experimentation.  So that’s great.  We need to learn from each other and, as Campbell points out, from our students, too.

Campbell really emphasized the ‘publish it to the web’ approach for harnessing the internet in his classes.  Students, I guess, publish their work to the web, even if just on a blog, etc..  This seems to me useful, but just the beginning.  The talk got me to thinking about what the specific diacritic of emerging internet technopractices might be.  Of course, that’s something I (like to) think about anyway.

But here is one thought.

The internet facilitates new forms of social interaction whereby political, educational, and otherwise social processes work well.  The forms that tend to work well in internetworking are not well-facilitated by traditional models of publication (the coffeehouse, newspaper, and broadcast models).

There is a broader context here in political theory.  At its best, a focus on publicness in terms of ‘publication’ (rather than ‘internetworking’) has historically tended to assume two valences in political theory.  One of those is participation (the ideal dream of democratic theory across the twentieth-century — be it deliberative participation or some other form), and the other is representation (which is a second-best when participation is not possible, or not desired).

My view (for today at least) is that democracy (et. al.) is now best facilitated not by forms of publication, but rather by way of forms of collaboration.  This is not a critique of participation or representation (and it need not be), but rather a claim on behalf of collaboration.

Collaboration may sound strange as a new procedural ideal for, say, democracy, but I believe we are in a position now to see its increasing importance.  Here is my (experimental) claim for today: Collaboration may lead us from the participatory-representative model to an innovative-connective model of politics, society, culture, &c..

Participation is the model of the citizen joining in the efforts of the public sphere.  But there is no public sphere, indeed no public, in internetworked contexts.  The public is no longer given.  Not in advance.  There is, rather, a plurality of publics.  Publics are made.  How to engage?  Not by ‘participating’ in something that is already there.  But rather by ‘innovation‘, which in a collaborative model sometimes (indeed often) means forming new publics.

Representation is what happens when interests need to be made public, yet there is no will (or practical means) to do so via participation.  So then our interests are represented, e.g. by our representatives.  This has long been a subject of severe critique in political theory.  I will not rehearse those critiques here (but nor do I presume them).  What’s new in the internetworked context?  Representation is more difficult than ever, and perhaps more useless.  Here again collaboration supplies a better conceptual model than publication, because the latter presumes a public up-and-running into which one’s interests are translated by a representative medium.  What form does collaboration take instead?  It takes the form of connection.  Interests are connected, not represented.  Mine and yours, and those as yet undreamt of, are woven together not only by us (which involves collaboration), but also by the technology itself and the entire knowledge ecology it sustains (which helps us in those instances where we have no will or means to collaborate).

So. To summarize….

From publication to collaboration.

From participation to innovation.

From representation to connection.

Therein you have a tidy little manifesto of sorts.  I undoubtedly will abandon the manifesto before you have read this.  I am just experimenting.  And where is the harm in that?  If you disagree, please do disagree out loud.  That is just what this medium is good for: collaborative disagreements in virtue of which we connect and may even together innovate.

Written by Colin Koopman

November 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm


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Late last week I attended a strategic reorientation meeting for ARC—the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory, a small group of philosophically-minded anthropologists to whom I was introduced by Paul Rabinow at UC Berkeley while on my UC Santa Cruz postdoc.  Those looking for reflections on ARC and related projects might take a look at Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, a refreshing little book recording conversations amongst Rabinow and some ARC and non-ARC collaborators.

Over the past few years of (somewhat sporadic) involvement I have found ARC a refreshing and invigorating venue for fashioning new forms of cross-disciplinary inquiry.  One primary objective of ARC, or so it seems to me, is experimenting with forms of academic research.  Two projects I was involved in are the ARC Collaboratory (collaboration + laboratory) and one of Rabinow’s Labinar (laboratory + seminar) graduate courses in Anthropology at UC Berkeley.  The recent meeting provides an occasion for now looking back at my involvement in these two experiments in order to discern what has worked well and what still needs more work.  This will be useful (for me at least) as some of us seek to re-energize ARC as a venue for shared work going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

June 15, 2010 at 2:57 am

Online Collaboration for Philosophers

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We philosophers need to get ourselves online, not only for purposes of increased visibility, but also for purposes of the kinds of collaborative work facilitated by internetworking.

One excellent forum recently set up by David Chalmers and others is PhilPapers. It’s still in beta but it should be incredibly useful when it’s up and running. It could in time become a one-stop shop for philosophy publication and pre-publication. One nice thing is that it is loaded up with capabilities to discuss papers online right on the site.

Please familiarize yourselves:

Written by Colin Koopman

January 31, 2009 at 8:39 pm

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Ars Synthetica Conference

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Ars Synthetica: The Anthropology of the Contemporary took place this past Friday at UC Santa Cruz.  I organized this event to bring Paul Rabinow, some of his students in UC Berkeley Anthropology, and other colleagues working in collaboration in recent years, down to UCSC to present their work.  At the center of the event as we envisioned it was Rabinow’s newest offerings under the auspices of the Ars Synthetica web forum.  My thanks to all participants (both presenters and audience) for making this such an engaging, inspiring, and generative event.  It is exactly what I needed as I prepare to dive into a solid two weeks of revision and polishing before I send my Foucault manuscript off to the publisher for review.  Following is a short summary of the day’s three sessions.

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