Why all anthropology should be called techno-anthropology: On the consequences of a pragmatist understanding of technology

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Abstract

This chapter argues that if we follow a pragmatist understanding of humans and technologies, there is no reason to keep these phenomena strongly separated. The suggestion that all anthropology should be called techno-anthropology might provoke some readers, but it is first and foremost intended as an invitation to think in ambitious terms about what techno- anthropology might be(come). The main contribution of the chapter is to introduce Bruno Latour and John Dewey as techno-anthropologists. While these two thinkers are known for many other engagements, and wrote in different times, they share a pragmatist understanding of humans as fundamentally entangled in their technologies. Such a standpoint may sound trivial, but a lot of effort still goes into separating humans and technologies, both as a philosophical argument and as a critique of contemporary life. The chapter starts with an example of such efforts, namely Sherry Turkle’s recent work on care robots and other new technologies that mediate human relationships. I move on to suggest that with Latour’s notion of delegation, such mediation appears less alien. In order to develop further the consequences of Latour’s techno-anthropologist moves, I turn to Dewey’s understanding of technology as inquiry, a concept that deliberately ignores the physical/psychological dichotomy. The chapter concludes with a couple of empirical examples of how the pragmatist perspective might guide techno-anthropological analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat is Techno-Anthropology?
EditorsTom Børsen, Lars Botin
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication date2013
Pages117-134
Chapter4
ISBN (Print)978-87-7112-123-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013
SeriesSerie om Lærings-, forandrings- og organisationsudviklingsprocesser/Series in Transformational Studies
Number1
Volume2
ISSN2245-7569

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