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In this culmination of his search for anthropological concepts and practices appropriate to the twenty-first century, Paul Rabinow contends that to make sense of the contemporary anthropologists must invent new forms of inquiry. He begins with an extended rumination on what he gained from two of his formative mentors: Michel Foucault and Clifford Geertz. Reflecting on their lives as teachers and thinkers, as well as human beings, he poses questions about their critical limitations, unfulfilled hopes, and the lessons he learned from and with them. This spirit of collaboration animates The Accompaniment, as Rabinow assesses the last ten years of his career, largely spent engaging in a series of intensive experiments in collaborative research and often focused on cutting-edge work in synthetic biology. He candidly details the successes and failures of shifting his teaching practice away from individual projects, placing greater emphasis on participation over observation in research, and designing and using websites as a venue for collaboration. Analyzing these endeavors alongside his efforts to apply an anthropological lens to the natural sciences, Rabinow lays the foundation for an ethically grounded anthropology ready and able to face the challenges of our contemporary world.
The discipline of anthropology is, at its best, characterized by turbulence, self-examination, and inventiveness. In recent decades, new thinking and practice within the field has certainly reflected this pattern, as shown for example by numerous fruitful ventures into the "politics and poetics" of anthropology. Surprisingly little attention, however, has been given to the simple insight that anthropology is composed of claims, whether tacit or explicit, about anthropos and about logos--and the myriad ways in which these two Greek nouns have been, might be, and should be, connected. Anthropos Today represents a pathbreaking effort to fill this gap.Paul Rabinow brings together years of distinguished work in this magisterial volume that seeks to reinvigorate the human sciences. Specifically, he assembles a set of conceptual tools--"modern equipment"--to assess how intellectual work is currently conducted and how it might change.Anthropos Today crystallizes Rabinow's previous ethnographic inquiries into the production of truth about life in the world of biotechnology and genome mapping (and his invention of new ways of practicing this pursuit), and his findings on how new practices of life, labor, and language have emerged and been institutionalized. Here, Rabinow steps back from empirical research in order to reflect on the conceptual and ethical resources available today to conduct such inquiries.Drawing richly on Foucault and many other thinkers including Weber and Dewey, Rabinow concludes that a "contingent practice" must be developed that focuses on "events of problematization." Brilliantly synthesizing insights from American, French, and German traditions, he offers a lucid, deeply learned, original discussion of how one might best think about anthropos today.
Demands of the Day asks about the logical standards and forms that should guide ethical and experimental anthropology in the twenty-first century. Anthropologists Paul Rabinow and Anthony Stavrianakis do so by taking up Max Weber's notion of the "demands of the day. " Just as the demand of the day for anthropology decades ago consisted of thinking about fieldwork, today, they argue, the demand is to examine what happens after, how the experiences of fieldwork are gathered, curated, narrated, and ultimately made available for an anthropological practice that moves beyond mere ethnographic description. Rabinow and Stavrianakis draw on experiences from an innovative set of anthropological experiments that investigated how and whether the human and biological sciences could be brought into a mutually enriching relationship. Conceptualizing the anthropological and philosophic ramifications of these inquiries, they offer a bold challenge to contemporary anthropology to undertake a more rigorous examination of its own practices, blind spots, and capacities, in order to meet the demands of our day.
In 2006 anthropologists Paul Rabinow and Gaymon Bennett set out to rethink the role that human sciences play in biological research, creating the Human Practices division of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center--a facility established to create design standards for the engineering of new enzymes, genetic circuits, cells, and other biological entities--to formulate a new approach to the ethical, security, and philosophical considerations of controversial biological work. They sought not simply to act as watchdogs but to integrate the biosciences with their own discipline in a more fundamentally interdependent way, inventing a new, dynamic, and experimental anthropology that they could bring to bear on the center's biological research. Designing Human Practices is a detailed account of this anthropological experiment and, ultimately, its rejection. It provides new insights into the possibilities and limitations of collaboration, and diagnoses the micro-politics which effectively constrained the potential for mutual scientific flourishing. Synthesizing multiple disciplines, including biology, genetics, anthropology, and philosophy, alongside a thorough examination of funding entities such as the National Science Foundation, Designing Human Practices pushes the social study of science into new and provocative territory, utilizing a real-world experience as a springboard for timely reflections on how the human and life sciences can and should transform each other.
In this compact volume two of anthropology's most influential theorists, Paul Rabinow and George E. Marcus, engage in a series of conversations about the past, present, and future of anthropological knowledge, pedagogy, and practice. James D. Faubion joins in several exchanges to facilitate and elaborate the dialogue, and Tobias Rees moderates the discussions and contributes an introduction and an afterword to the volume. Most of the conversations are focused on contemporary challenges to how anthropology understands its subject and how ethnographic research projects are designed and carried out. Rabinow and Marcus reflect on what remains distinctly anthropological about the study of contemporary events and processes, and they contemplate productive new directions for the field. The two converge in Marcus's emphasis on the need to redesign pedagogical practices for training anthropological researchers and in Rabinow's proposal of collaborative initiatives in which ethnographic research designs could be analyzed, experimented with, and transformed. Both Rabinow and Marcus participated in the milestone collection Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Published in 1986, Writing Culture catalyzed a reassessment of how ethnographers encountered, studied, and wrote about their subjects. In the opening conversations of Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, Rabinow and Marcus take stock of anthropology's recent past by discussing the intellectual scene in which Writing Culture intervened, the book's contributions, and its conceptual limitations. Considering how the field has developed since the publication of that volume, they address topics including ethnography's self-reflexive turn, scholars' increased focus on questions of identity, the Public Culture project, science and technology studies, and the changing interests and goals of students. Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary allows readers to eavesdrop on lively conversations between anthropologists who have helped to shape their field's recent past and are deeply invested in its future.
"Designs on the Contemporary"apursues the challenge of how to design and put into practice strategies for inquiring into the intersections of philosophy and anthropology. Drawing on the conceptual repertoires of Max Weber, Michel Foucault, and John Dewey, among others, Paul Rabinow and Anthony Stavrianakis reflect on and experiment with how to give form to anthropological inquiry and its aftermath, with special attention to the ethical formation and ramifications of this mode of engagement. aa a a aThe authors continue their prior explorations of the contemporary in past works: How to conceptualize, test, and give form to breakdowns of truth and conduct, as well as how to open up possibilities for the remediation of such breakdowns. They offer a surprising and contrasting pair of case studies of two figures who engaged with contemporary breakdowns: Salman Rushdie and Gerhard Richter. Approaching RichterOCOs artistic struggles with form and technique in the long wake of modernism and RushdieOCOs struggles to find a narrative formOCoas well as a form for livingOCoto respond to the Iranian fatwa issued against him, they show how both men formulated different new approaches to anthropology for the twenty-first century. "
This collection of essays explains and encourages new reflection on Paul Rabinow's pioneering project to anthropologize the West. His goal is to exoticize the Western constitution of reality, emphasize those domains most taken for granted as universal, and show how their claims to truth are linked to particular social practices, hence becoming effective social forces. He has recently begun to focus on the core of Western rationality, in particular the practices of molecular biology as they apply to our understanding of human nature. This book moves in new directions by posing questions about how scientific practice can be understood in terms of ethics as well as in terms of power. The topics include how French socialist urban planning in the 1930s engineered the transition from city planning to life planning; how the discursive and nondiscursive practices of the Human Genome Project and biotechnology have refigured life, labor, and language; and how a debate over patenting cell lines and over the dignity of life required secular courts to invoke medieval notions of the sacred. Building on an ethnographic study of the invention of the polymerase chain reaction--which enables the rapid production of specific sequences of DNA in millions of copies Rabinow, in the final essay, reflects in dialogue with biochemist Tom White on the place of science in modernity, on science as a vocation, and on the differences between the human and natural sciences.
In this study of space and power and knowledge in France from the 1830s through the 1930s, Rabinow uses the tools of anthropology, philosophy, and cultural criticism to examine how social environment was perceived and described. Ranging from epidemiology to the layout of colonial cities, he shows how modernity was revealed in urban planning, architecture, health and welfare administration, and social legislation.
A Machine to Make a Future represents a remarkably original look at the present and possible future of biotechnology research in the wake of the mapping of the human genome. The central tenet of Celera Diagnostics--the California biotech company whose formative work during 2003 is the focus of the book--is that the emergent knowledge about the genome, with its profound implications for human health, can now be turned into a powerful diagnostic apparatus--one that will yield breakthrough diagnostic and therapeutic products (and, potentially, profit). Celera's efforts--assuming they succeed--may fundamentally reshape the fabric of how health and health care are understood, practiced, and managed. Presenting a series of interviews with all of the key players in Celera Diagnostics, Paul Rabinow and Talia Dan-Cohen open a fascinating window on the complexity of corporate scientific innovation. This marks a radical departure from other books on the biotech industry by chronicling the vicissitudes of a project during a finite time period, in the words of the actors themselves. Ultimately, the authors conclude, Celera Diagnostics is engaged in a future characterized not by geniuses and their celebrated discoveries but by a largely anonymous and widely distributed profusion of data and results--a "machine to make a future." In their new afterword, Rabinow and Dan-Cohen revisit Celera Diagnostics as its mighty machine grinds along, wondering, along with the scientists, "what constitutes success and what constitutes failure?" The pathos of the situation turns on how one poses the question as much as how one answers it.
Making PCR is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the invention of one of the most significant biotech discoveries in our time--the polymerase chain reaction. Transforming the practice and potential of molecular biology, PCR extends scientists' ability to identify and manipulate genetic materials and accurately reproduces millions of copies of a given segment in a short period of time. It makes abundant what was once scarce--the genetic material required for experimentation. Making PCR explores the culture of biotechnology as it emerged at Certus Corporation during the 1980s and focuses on its distinctive configuration of scientific, technical, social, economic, political, and legal elements, each of which had its own separate trajectory over the preceding decade. The book contains interviews with the remarkable cast of characters who made PCR, including Kary Mullin, the maverick who received the Nobel prize for "discovering" it, as well as the team of young scientists and the company's business leaders. This book shows how a contingently assembled practice emerged, composed of distinctive subjects, the site where they worked, and the object they invented. "Paul Rabinow paints a . . . picture of the process of discovery in Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology [and] teases out every possible detail. . . . Makes for an intriguing read that raises many questions about our understanding of the twisting process of discovery itself."--David Bradley, New Scientist "Rabinow's book belongs to a burgeoning genre: ethnographic studies of what scientists actually do in the lab. . . . A bold move."--Daniel Zalewski, Lingua Franca "[Making PCR is] exotic territory, biomedical research, explored. . . . Rabinow describes a dance: the immigration and repatriation of scientists to and from the academic and business worlds."--Nancy Maull, New York Times Book Review
In Marking Time, Paul Rabinow presents his most recent reflections on the anthropology of the contemporary. Drawing richly on the work of Michel Foucault, John Dewey, Niklas Luhmann, and, most interestingly, German painter Gerhard Richter, Rabinow offers a set of conceptual tools for scholars examining cutting-edge practices in the life sciences, security, new media and art practices, and other emergent phenomena. Taking up topics that include bioethics, anger and competition among molecular biologists, the lessons of the Drosophila genome, the nature of ethnographic observation in radically new settings, and the moral landscape shared by scientists and anthropologists, Rabinow shows how anthropology remains relevant to contemporary debates. By turning abstract philosophical problems into real-world explorations and offering original insights, Marking Time is a landmark contribution to the continuing re-invention of anthropology and the human sciences.
This book, which Foucault himself has judged accurate, is the first to provide a sustained, coherent analysis of Foucault's work as a whole. To demonstrate the sense in which Foucault's work is beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, the authors unfold a careful, analytical exposition of his oeuvre. They argue that during the of Foucault's work became a sustained and largely successful effort to develop a new method--"interpretative analytics"--capable fo explaining both the logic of structuralism's claim to be an objective science and the apparent validity of the hermeneutical counterclaim that the human sciences can proceed only by understanding the deepest meaning of the subject and his tradition. "There are many new secondary sources [on Foucault]. None surpass the book by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. . . . The American paperback edition contains Foucault's 'On the Genealogy of Ethics,' a lucid interview that is now our best source for seeing how he construed the whole project of the history of sexuality. "--David Hoy, London Review of Books
Modes of Uncertainty offers groundbreaking ways of thinking about danger, risk, and uncertainty from an analytical and anthropological perspective. Our world, the contributors show, is increasingly populated by forms, practices, and events whose uncertainty cannot be reduced to risk--and thus it is vital to distinguish between the two. Drawing the lines between them, they argue that the study of uncertainty should not focus solely on the appearance of new risks and dangers--which no doubt abound--but also on how uncertainty itself should be defined, and what the implications might be for policy and government. Organizing contributions from various anthropological subfields--including economics, business, security, humanitarianism, health, and environment--Limor Samimian-Darash and Paul Rabinow offer new tools with which to consider uncertainty, its management, and the differing modes of subjectivity appropriate to it. Taking up policies and experiences as objects of research and analysis, the essays here seek a rigorous inquiry into a sound conceptualization of uncertainty in order to better confront contemporary problems. Ultimately, they open the way for a participatory anthropology that asks crucial questions about our contemporary state.
The papers in this volume arise out of a sense of unease shared in greater or lesser degree by all the contributors. The unease concerns first of all the relation of social science as presently practiced to the realm of ethics. "Value neutrality," itself a term far from clear, now seems without foundation as a guide in this area, but no forceful alternative has yet gathered a consensus. But the unease, among a number of the contributors, goes deeper than a worry about the moral meaning of social science. It includes a worry about the moral meaning of modern society itself. Social science and modern society were born together and their fates are deeply intertwined.
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