Author Archives: Chris Furlow

2013 GAD Distinguished Lecture: Bruno Latour

This year the General Anthropology Division (GAD) welcomed Bruno Latour as its Distinguished Lecturer at the 112th Annual Meeting of the AAA. Latour’s talk, “What Is the Recommended Dose of Ontological Pluralism for a Safe Anthropological Diplomacy?” was recorded on video, presented here with my opening remarks. Latour has been at Sciences Po Paris since 2007, first serving five years as Vice President of Research before returning to the faculty as Professor. Latour’s work is as expansive as it is influential, crossing disciplinary boundaries from science and technology studies, to anthropology and archaeology, religion, architecture, and environmental studies as readily as the humans and objects Latour connects into large agential networks in his actor-network theory, or ANT.  Professor Latour’s research began with his doctoral work on Biblical exegesis.  He then moved to studies of science that brought ethnography into a scientific laboratory leading to his books Laboratory Life (1979), co-authored with Steve Woolgar, The Pasteurization of France (1988), and the widely influential Science In Action (1987). (read more...)

Moving Beyond Doping Scandals: Toward an Anthropology of Science, Technology and Performance

One of the many things I appreciate about anthropology is that we ask big questions like “What makes us human?” and “What does it mean to be human?” Whatever our specific research topic, no matter how narrow it may seem, we reflect on the connection our research has with these big questions. In this blog, I’d like to do just this in connection to my latest research interest: science, technology, and performance. This topic is a major departure from my previous research on Islam and science, but quite closely connected to cycling which has been a part of my life for three decades, longer than anthropology or STS. My training in the anthropology of science, technology, and medicine gives me an interesting perspective on cycling and especially the doping scandals that have plagued cycling and sport in general in recent decades. While journalists focus on specific details like who took (read more...)

CASTAC: Past, Present, Future

As a longtime CASTAC member, I’d like to offer my take on where we’ve been and where we, as an organization might go in the future. My first encounter with CASTAC came at the 1992 AAA meetings in San Francisco. I was a new grad student of Gary Downey’s in the STS program at Virginia Tech; however, CASTAC had been founded earlier. The following brief history is based primarily on “corridor talk,” oral histories passed along informally at AAA meetings and other fora by folks like David Hakken, Lucy Suchman, Julian Orr, David Hess and others. CASTAC, as an organization, began as CAC (Committee for the Anthropology of Computing) at the initiation of David Hakken and a few other anthropologists who were pioneering anthropological studies of computing. David approached Marvin Harris who was, at that time, the President of the General Anthropology Division (GAD) about creating CAC as a Committee (read more...)