From the defining role of artefacts and technologies to the contemporary omnipresence of design, how could anthropology have a say in trying to understand and intervene in such world-making efforts?
This course is conceived as an introduction to variegated intellectual traditions in anthropology and neighbouring cultural studies that have sought to develop vocabularies, describe and study technique, artefacts and technology. Indeed, throughout the 20th century, and especially since the 1990s a great wealth of conceptual traditions have sprung, deriving from the work of ethnographers who have tried to analyze artefacts and their mediating role in how particular societal or cultural values get inscribed, transported, supported or transformed technically.
In recent decades, and thanks to the increasing relevance of ‘design’ on our everyday and work life, anthropologists and other cultural practitioners are also developing modes of critical scrutiny but also drawing inspiration from the methods of design, searching to have an impact on the particular modes in which ethnography and anthropological research at large are carried out (as a means for social intervention, be it for the creation of public debate or collaborative forms of research).
In order to understand the core debates these series of interconnected works bring to the fore, on a weekly basis, students will have to read and comment readings and re-enact some of these debates. In doing this, students will develop an insightful analytical gaze to understand manifold dimensions of our lives together with artefacts, technologies, infrastructures and design practices.