Anthropological Futures (Experimental Futures)

Anthropological Futures (Experimental Futures)

Michael M. J. Fischer

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 0822344769

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In Anthropological Futures, Michael M. J. Fischer explores the uses of anthropology as a mode of philosophical inquiry, an evolving academic discipline, and a means for explicating the complex and shifting interweaving of human bonds and social interactions on a global level. Through linked essays, which are both speculative and experimental, Fischer seeks to break new ground for anthropology by illuminating the field’s broad analytical capacity and its attentiveness to emergent cultural systems.

Fischer is particularly concerned with cultural anthropology’s interactions with science studies, and throughout the book he investigates how emerging knowledge formations in molecular biology, environmental studies, computer science, and bioengineering are transforming some of anthropology’s key concepts including nature, culture, personhood, and the body. In an essay on culture, he uses the science studies paradigm of “experimental systems” to consider how the social scientific notion of culture has evolved as an analytical tool since the nineteenth century. Charting anthropology’s role in understanding and analyzing the production of knowledge within the sciences since the 1990s, he highlights anthropology’s aptitude for tracing the transnational collaborations and multisited networks that constitute contemporary scientific practice. Fischer investigates changing ideas about cultural inscription on the human body in a world where genetic engineering, robotics, and cybernetics are constantly redefining our understanding of biology. In the final essay, Fischer turns to Kant’s philosophical anthropology to reassess the object of study for contemporary anthropology and to reassert the field’s primacy for answering the largest questions about human beings, societies, culture, and our interactions with the world around us. In Anthropological Futures, Fischer continues to advance what Clifford Geertz, in reviewing Fischer’s earlier book Emergent Forms of Life and the Anthropological Voice, called “a broad new agenda for cultural description and political critique.”

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players, testing and contesting the e√orts to assert canonic universal formulations by those players or by philosophers and literary critics (e.g., on multiculturalism and the politics of recognition, Okin 1999, Taylor 1992, but also such anthropological accounts as Povinelli 2002). Karen Engel, in a review of formal statements by the American Anthropological Association since 1947, argues that one of the most troubling issues is the charge of cultural relativism, which is often said to lead to

configurations.∑ Haplotype groups are statistically associated sets of genetic characteristics that can be used to define genetic populations, often situated geographically or ethnically. In modern biology, they displace old categories of race, emphasizing the statistical overlaps among such older labeling categories (Goodman, Heath, and Lindee 2003; Marks 1995, 2002). They thus do not deny the diversity in the biology of human populations but make the understanding of that diversity both

of the polymerase chain reaction (pcr) from idea to experimental system to marketable commodity; Angela Creager, Lily Kay, Hannah Landecker, and Kaushik Sunder Rajan come from backgrounds in biology, and Rheinberger continues as a working molecular biologist as well as a trained historian of science; Haraway comes as a trained ∫∫ FOUR CULTURAL GENEALOGIES historian of biology but also with social democratic and feminist commitments, with an eye to seeing up close, ethnographically,

toxic or allergic reactions. What is important, the fda reasoned, is the product, not how it is made. This rationale required revision in the struggles of the 1990s over organic food labeling. As Jasano√ points out, in 1993 recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbgh), or bovine somatotropin (rbst), was approved despite its questionable need in a dairy industry that already produced surpluses, its likely contribution to aid only large producers (and drive out small ones), and its possible e√ects of

the biologist Stuart Newman (2006) argues quite dubiously in favor of a classical notion of ‘‘natural kinds.’’ The notion of natural kinds seems hard to reconcile with contemporary ecological understandings or with the unfolding of knowledge within molecular biology itself. At issue are at least two troubling dilemmas: animal models in medical research and life forms as technological instruments. I will deal with the first dilemma together with Haraway’s interventions on companion species, both

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