The Accompaniment: Assembling the Contemporary

The Accompaniment: Assembling the Contemporary

Paul Rabinow

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 0226701700

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this culmination of his search for anthropological concepts and practices appropriate to the twenty-first century, Paul Rabinow contends that to make sense of the contemporary anthropologists must invent new forms of inquiry. He begins with an extended rumination on what he gained from two of his formative mentors: Michel Foucault and Clifford Geertz. Reflecting on their lives as teachers and thinkers, as well as human beings, he poses questions about their critical limitations, unfulfilled hopes, and the lessons he learned from and with them.
This spirit of collaboration animates The Accompaniment, as Rabinow assesses the last ten years of his career, largely spent engaging in a series of intensive experiments in collaborative research and often focused on cutting-edge work in synthetic biology. He candidly details the successes and failures of shifting his teaching practice away from individual projects, placing greater emphasis on participation over observation in research, and designing and using websites as a venue for collaboration. Analyzing these endeavors alongside his efforts to apply an anthropological lens to the natural sciences, Rabinow lays the foundation for an ethically grounded anthropology ready and able to face the challenges of our contemporary world.

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directly pertinent to the problems I have been seeking to identify and address. Hence, I present the barest liniments of this concept cluster that I have found to be promising as a tool to advance inquiry rather than as ends in themselves or as steps in theory building.14 Therefore, the first distinction is that an assemblage is not a totality, a seamless whole, a preexisting thing of the world with given and fixed properties (even if they are not all activated at any particular time or in any

discerned by examining our projects for common problems. PROTOCOL (by Meg Stalcup) Paul Rabinow and a small group of students who had taken classes together for several years wanted to transform the graduate seminar into a different venue that would facilitate our goals. We planned to spend the semester intensely focused on fieldwork and developing concepts that would help us make sense of what we were finding in the field. With students in different stages of graduate work, we wanted to both

learned from prior models of “ethics and society” be taken into account. With that precondition in mind, I traveled to Washington, where I explained my understanding of the situation to the NSF officials responsible for funding and overseeing the engineering research center. They concurred that something new and innovative was desirable. They expressed support concerning my thoughts about possible ways to design a different approach, although they offered no specific suggestions as to what such a

community. In short, these terms point to what is shared or understood by people in common. Such an interpretation is consistent, of course, and in its own distinctive way, with Brecht’s Marxism. Benjamin’s second interpretation also involves a Greek reference. He proposed that Keuner, which as such has no particular significance, comes from the German keiner—no one. “Benjamin connects ‘no one’ or ‘no man’ to the reply that Odysseus gives the blinded one-eyed Cyclops, Polyphemus, as he escapes

Ethnology 47, no. 1 (1953). 16. Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures, 82–83. 17. Ibid., 68. 18. Ibid., 38. 19. Ibid., 39–40. 20. Ibid., 91. 21. Ibid., 92. 22. Ibid., 93–94. 23. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 321. 24. Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures, 44. 25. Foucault, Order of Things, 321. 26. Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures, 15. 27. Ibid., 16. 28. Ibid., 24. 29. Ibid., 30. 30. Clifford

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