Reclaiming the University of Aberdeen

December 6, 2016 § Leave a comment


Criticism as solidarity

October 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

This comes from the guidelines for reviewers for Interface journal:

.1. Helpful criticism (criticism as solidarity)

Our job as reviewers and editors is generally in trying to help people who are making an effort in a direction that we share to some degree, to develop their ideas more clearly, with more insight and in ways that are more helpful to the movements we work with as researchers, theorists, writers etc. The most helpful comments are neither those which gloss over real problems in an article nor those which condemn without showing how things could be done better; they are those which identify difficulties, explain (gently) why they are difficulties, and suggest alternative approaches.

I wish more reviewers, editors, writers and people commenting on papers presented in seminars would keep this advice in mind. The fact that so many of them don’t reinforces my suspicion that in fact we don’t “share” “a direction”, even though there is often an implicit or explicit assumption that we do.

ANT and ethnography

September 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

we believe ANT [Actor-Network Theory] is here to stay, and for good reason. Despite some specific limits we describe later, ANT, to invoke Lamont’s (2012) recent assessment of Bourdieu, is “good to think with.” But, as John Law and Vicky Singleton argue in the afterword, it may also provide some valuable ways to act in and on the world. As a set of sensibilities, a disposition, or an attitude—rather than a rigid framework—ANT’s skepticism towards “catch-all” explanatory theories and pre-defined field sites, as well as its attention to the sociologies of non-sociologists and practices of world-making opens up important vistas about the ethical and political nature of research.

our current overlapping research interests in the circulation of expert knowledge and contemporary political projects seem fettered by more conventional sociological and anthropological treatments and the prescriptions they invite: top-down vs. grassroots development; the state vs. civil society; institutional monocropping vs. public deliberation; global neoliberalism vs. local resistance. Unsatisfied by these clunky dichotomies, ANT’s resistance to structural metaphors and inherited divisions (i.e. human versus nonhuman) appeared to us as a way to investigate the messy thickness of social and political life. In the words of Latour (2005b, 137), the ostensible spokesperson and high-priest of the approach, ANT was designed to break with the practice of “taking a free ride through all-terrain entities like Society, Capitalism, Empire, Norms, Individualism, Fields, and so on.” In a characteristically iconoclastic way, ANT writings have sought to replace these “vague all encompassing sociological terms” with descriptions of “more realistic and smaller sets of associations” (Latour 1996b, 2). Captivated but unsure about its political and methodological implications, we proceeded to read, reflect, and engage ANT in our respective projects.

Baiocchi, G., Graizbord, D. & Rodríguez-Muñiz, M. Qual Sociol (2013) 36: 323

A note on provincialising the academy

September 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

Several years ago I wrote a blogpost that briefly discussed ‘Asia as Method’; today I read something that reminded me of this but put it in slightly different terms:

research on mobilities beyond the Global North is for the most part conducted by scholars born in or at least trained in the center—academic institutions in the Western world or heavily influenced by Western thought. Conversations on the geographies of mobility would be greatly enriched if they became more ” worlded ” in the way urban theory is now starting to be (McCann, Roy, and Ward 2013; Sheppard, Leitner, and Maringanti 2013; Sheppard et al. 2015). The result will be the coming into being of geographies of mobility that durably reconfigure familiar distributions of core and periphery, theory and empirics.

I read this on this webpage – where it was quoted more-or-less exactly as I have rendered it here – but in fact it comes from the following article:

page 251

On the webpage where I initially read this quote, there were links to other articles referring to the idea of provincialising particular fields of study. This seemed like a good alternative way of summarising the idea of Asia as Method.

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