Uncaptured Modernities and the "Pure Exteriority" of Technology and Engineering

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:20
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
James MERRON, University of Basel, Switzerland
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari employ the concept of assemblage to inspire a new way of approaching entities, asking notwhat is a thing?” but rather “what is a thing capable of turning in to?”. More ambitious scholars have proposed a theory of assemblage to deepen understandings about science and technology. For the purpose of this paper, I make use of "mobile concepts" such as the ‘war machine’ through which a distinction between major (royal science) and minor (nomad science) is maintained. In this sense "engineering" builds upon either a striated or a smooth space. I use this line of thinking to account for the assemblages and entities-in-becoming involved in the following going-concerns: the wars on terror, climate change, drugs, invasive species, poaching, poverty and disease. A repertoire of new concepts and terminologies gives form to entities that elude capture within a single concept, metaphor, or grand narrative (including modernity). This “pure exteriority” of concepts has scope to elaborate on categories like “technology” and “engineering” that find their articulation outside of the centres in which they were formulated, i.e. Euro-America. As such this paper is contextualized within data emerging out of ethnographic research on the use of green technologies in mediating social relationships in South Africa.