PhD Course - Addressing Change and Continuity in Anthropology, STS and IT
The course is fully booked.
The PhD course draws upon theory from anthropology, sociology, organization/management, geography and science and technology studies to introduce students to different ways of approaching the conceptual pairing of change and continuity. The readings cover both classical readings on ritual change, individual change or systemic change, as well as contemporary approaches and analytical critiques of ideologies of (sociotechnical) change, its governance and/or management. We touch upon different types of ‘change agents’: collective (movements/activists, government) or individual (planners, charismatic prophets, entrepreneurs), and human or non-human (technologies, globalization/global processes), but also how they clash with agents and ideals of stability and continuity (e.g. in ‘disruption’).
Few sectors are as focused on change as an unavoidable, continual and positive process as the IT industry. This idea of change operates both discursively through the valorization of terms such as growth, progress, optimization, innovation, and development, but also technically/materially through gradual enhancements and ‘speeding up’ of processes (cf. Moore’s Law). But while there are specific models of change involved in thinking about innovation, design, R&D etc., it makes sense to ask what are the implicit perceptions of change? What forms of continuity do they imply, or allow for? And how can these be scrutinized?
Within the humanities/social sciences, as a contrast, notions of change/continuity have frequently been challenged and reconfigured vis-à-vis each other. Evolutionism, functionalism, structuralism and Marxism all carried different modernist implications of either change or non-change, while recent ‘afterological’ (Sahlins) academic trends often imply a focus on things as always being in a state of ‘becoming’ and ‘uncertainty’. Yet, in what ways does this mean continuity/stability etc. and in what ways does it refer to change (gradual or incremental)?
Guest lecturers are Prof Joel Robbins (Dept. of Anthropology, Cambridge University), who has worked with notions of rapid and radical change (rupture) amongst Christian groups, and Dr Patrick Bigger (Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University), who has studied how setting up of new markets and financial institutions is meant to generate changes in environmental behavior.
- Classical theories on societal/cultural change – ritual, individual, systemic (Gluckman, Friedman, Hobsbawm, Barth, Weber)
- Contemporary approaches that discuss a form of change (or continuity) – from incremental change to rupture, from technological to organizational, from individual to cultural/national (Anderson, Holbraad et al.,_Højer et al, MacKenzie et al., Robbins, Graeber, Verdery, Yurchak, Rosa)
- Analytical critiques of ideologies of change or historical ‘cases’ of how change (or continuity) has played out (Bastian, Edgerton, Norgaard, Otto, Sahlins, Swyngedouw)
The course will consist of a combination of lectures and discussion seminars. The keynote speakers will each give a lecture of approximately one hour, as well as participating as prime movers in the discussions. The remainder of the course will be spent discussing the texts in relation to each other and in relation to the projects the participants are working on. Therefore, depending on the number of PhD students, the group may be divided into smaller discussion groups to facilitate a deeper engagement with the texts and the participant’s projects.
In preparation the students will be asked to do two things:
1) Read the pre-circulated texts and write up preliminary notes on the thoughts that each text evoke in regard to the student’s research and how change and continuity might be at stake at different levels of their project. It is important to complete the readings/note-taking in advance as this is an essential prerequisite for making the course work. The texts do not have to be read in any particular order, but it may be helpful to follow the grouping mentioned above (even if the categories overlap). A suggestion is that for each text the student notes how the text emphasizes either change or continuity (or a balance of the two), and who or what is the ‘agent’ doing the changing or stabilization. The notes can form the basis for the discussions in class as well as the reflection paper.
The literature will be made available 6 weeks prior to the course via one of ITU’s filesharing platform (OwnCloud or OneDrive).
NB! Many of the additional recommended readings are selected because they can either provide an overview of shifting theoretical trends on the topic (e.g. Barrett; McGee and Warns), or because they outline perspectives on some of the mandatory readings (e.g. Bourdieu on Weber; Wajcman on Rosa). They are just listed for inspiration and as aides to put the main texts into relief.
2) For the round of presentations on day 1 prepare a 2 minute presentation focusing on the way questions of continuity and change emerge in your research? You are welcome to relate to the literature of the course.
During and after the course, the participants will reflect in writing on how the theme of change and continuity is relevant in their own research projects. They are asked to write a 2-3 page reflection paper in whatever format they find useful in the current stage of their research (e.g. a case analysis, a state-of-the art review, or reflections on how to integrate questions about change/continuity into their research design). Sending the paper to the course organizers approximately one month after the course is a requirement for completing the course.
Draft Programme (may change depending upon covid-19 situation):
9:00-9:15 Welcome and morning coffee/tea
9:15-9:45 Introduction to the topic (Dalsgaard)
9:45-10:30 Round of presentations: each participant briefly describes their specific projects and how engaging with the theme of change and continuity might be relevant for their work
10:30-11:30 Keynote by Prof Joel Robbins (and questions)
11:30-11:45 Time for taking notes on what the lecture makes us think about change and continuity
13:00-14:00 Group discussion of lecture and 2-3 texts of own choosing from the curriculum
14:00-15:00 Plenary and discussion of what has been talked about in the groups facilitated by course organizers and lecturers (each group presents main points from their discussion)
15:00-15:15 Coffee/tea break
15:15-16:00 Group discussion about how the discussed approaches make enable students to think about their projects
16:00-16:30: Individual laptop time to wrap up the day’s thinking
9:00-9:15 Good morning and coffee/tea
9:15-10:15 Keynote by Dr Patrick Bigger (and questions)
10:15-10:30 Time for taking notes on what the lecture makes us think about change and continuity
10:30-10:45 Coffee/tea break
10:45-11:45 Group discussion of lecture and 2-3 texts of own choosing from the curriculum
13:00-14:00 Plenary and discussion of what has been talked about in the groups facilitated by course organizers and lecturers (each group presents main points from their discussion)
14:00-14:15 Coffee/tea break
14:15-15:00 Plenary with discussion of where the course has taken us all
15:00-15:30 Individual laptop time to wrap up the day’s thinking and prepare notes for final paper
- Reading a pre-circulated curriculum of app. 475 pages and preparing notes (50 hours)
- Taking part in discussions of texts and each others’ projects (15 hours)
- Writing a reflection paper for circulation after the course (30 hours)
Associate Professor Steffen Dalsgaard
Associate Professor Ingmar Lippert
Proposed dates: Monday Nov. 2 till Tuesday Nov. 3.
Credits for PhD students: 3.5 ECTS points
Expected number of student participants: 8-12
NB: Keynotes are open lectures.
How to sign-up:
The course is fully booked. Registration is therefore closed.
Anderson, B. 2010. Preemption, Precaution, Preparedness: Anticipatory Action and Future Geographies. Progress in Human Geography 34, 6: 777-798.Barth, F. 1967. ‘Economic Spheres in Darfur’. In Firth (ed.) Themes in Economic Anthropology. Oxford, pp.149-174.
Bastian, M. 2012. Fatally Confused: Telling the Time in the Midst of Ecological Crisis. Environmental Philosophy 9, 1: 23-48.
Edgerton, D. 2006. ‘Introduction’ and ‘Significance’. In The Shock of the Old. Profile Books, pp.ix-xviii and 1-27.
Friedman, J. 2016. Weekend Update: Identity, Culture, Politics and Anthropology since the 1980s. Oceania 86, 3: 344-356.
Gluckman, M. 1963 . ‘Rituals of Rebellion in South-East Africa’. In Order and Rebellion in Tribal Africa. London: Cohen & West, pp.110-136.
Graeber, D. 2009. ‘Preface’, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Direct Action, Anarchism, Direct Democracy’. In Direct Action: An Ethnography. AK Press, pp.viii-xvii, 1-15 and 201-237 [see also p.241-46].
Hobsbawm, E. 1983. ‘Introduction: Inventing Traditions’. In Hobsbawm and Ranger (eds.) The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge University Press, pp.1-14.
Holbraad, M., B. Kapferer and J. Sauma 2019. Introduction: Critical Ruptures. In Holbraad, Kapferer and Sauma (eds.) Ruptures. London: UCL Press, pp.1-26.
Højer, L., A. Kublitz, S. Puri and A. Bandak 2018. Escalations: Theorizing Sudden Accelerating Change. Anthropological Theory 18, 1: 36-58.
MacKenzie, D., F. Muniesa and L. Siu 2007. ‘Introduction’. In MacKenzie, Muniesa and Siu (eds.) Do Economists Make Markets? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp.1-19.
Norgaard, K.M. 2011. ‘Introduction: The Failure to Act, Denial Versus Indifference, Apathy and Ignorance’. In Living in Denial. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp.1-12.
Otto, T. 2009. What Happened to Cargo Cults? Social Analysis 53, 1: 82-102.
Robbins, J. 2005. ‘Introduction - Humiliation and Transformation’. In Robbins and Wardlow (eds.) The Making of Global and Local Modernities in Melanesia. Ashgate, pp.3-21.
Robbins, J. 2007. Continuity Thinking and the Problem of Christian Culture. Current Anthropology 48, 1: 5-38.
Rosa, H. 2003. ‘Social Acceleration: Ethical and Political Consequences of a Desynchronized High-Speed Society’. Constellations 10, 1: 3-33.
Sahlins, M. 1993. Goodbye to Tristes Tropes. The Journal of Modern History 65, 1: 1-25.
Swyngedouw, E. 2018. Interrupting the Anthropo-obScene: Immuno-biopolitics and Depoliticizing. Theory, Culture & Society 35, 6: 3-30.
Verdery, K. 1996. ‘What Was Socialism and Why Did It Fall?’. In What Was Socialism and What Comes Next? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp.19-38.
Weber, M. 1948. ‘The Sociology of Charismatic Authority’ and ‘The Meaning of Discipline’. In Gerth and Wright Mills (eds.) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. London: Routledge, pp.245-264.
Yurchak, A. 2005. ‘Late Socialism: An Eternal State’. Chp 1 in Everything was forever, until it was no more. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp.1-35.
Recommended to watch:
Curtis, A. 2011. All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. BBC Documentary, episodes 1-3. (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60xjdl; https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x60y8sj; https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x68rtzl)
Additional recommended background readings:
Avgerou, C. 2010. Discourses on ICT and Development. Information Technologies & International Development 6, 3, 1-18.
Barrett 1984. ‘Neutralizing Mechanisms’. Chp 8 in The Rebirth of Anthropological Theory. Toronto: Toronto University Press, pp.177-194.
Bateson, G. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Bell, G. and P. Dourish 2006. Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Notes on Ubiquitous Computing’s Dominant Vision. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 11, 2: 133-143.
Berker, T. et al. (eds.) 2005. Domestication of Media and Technology. Open University Press.
Beck, U. 1992. Risk Society. London: SAGE.
Bell, D. 1974. The Coming of Post-industrial Society. Heinemann.
Best, J. 2014. Governing Failure: Provisional Expertise and the Transformation of Global Development Finance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Biersack, A. 1991. ‘Introduction: History and Theory in Anthropology’. In Biersack (ed.) Clio in Oceania. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp.1-36.
Bourdieu, P. 1987. ‘Legitimation and Structured Interests in Weber’s Sociology of Religion’. In Whimster and Lash (eds.) Max Weber: Rationality and Modernity. London: Routledge, pp.119-136.
Callon, M. 1991. Techno-Economic Networks and Irreversibility. In Law (ed.) A Sociology of Monsters. London: Routledge, pp.132-161.
Christensen, C 1997. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Christensen, C., M. Raynor and R. MacDonald 2015. What Is Disruptive Innovation? Harvard Business Review December, 44-53.
Ehn, P. and O. Löfgren 2010. The Secret World of Doing Nothing. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Friedman, J. 1994. ‘Civilizational Cycles and the History of Primitivism’ + ‘Globalization and Localization’. Chapters 3 and 7 in Cultural Identity and Global Process. London: SAGE, pp. 42-66 and 102-116.
Fukuyama, F. 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. Penguin.
Goldstein, J. 2018. ‘Introduction’ and ‘Non-disruptive Disruptions’. Chp 1 in Planetary Improvement. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp.1-36.
Graeber, D. 2012. Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit. The Baffler, no. 19, https://thebaffler.com/salvos/of-flying-cars-and-the-declining-rate-of-profit
Hylland Eriksen, T. 2016. Overheating. London: Pluto Press.
Latour, B. 1991. Society is Technology Made Durable. In Law (ed.) A Sociology of Monsters. London: Routledge, pp.103-131.
Li, T.M. 2007. The Will to Improve. Durham: Duke University Press.
McGee and Warns 2000. ‘Cultural Ecology and Neoevolutionary Thought’ + ‘Neomaterialism: Evolutionary, Functionalist, Ecological, and Marxist’ In Anthropological Theory, pp.225-27 and 271-73.
Mackenzie, D. 2006. An Engine, Not a Camera. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Malm, A. 2013. The Origins of Fossil Capital. Historical Materialism 21, 1: 15-68.
Mosse, D. 2005. Cultivating Development. London: Pluto Press.
Pries-Heje, J. and R. Baskerville 2008. The Design Theory Nexus. MISQ 32, 4: 731-755.
Robbins, J. 2010. Anthropology, Pentecostalism, and the New Paul. South Atlantic Quarterly 109, 4: 633-652.
Scott, J. 1998. Seeing Like a State. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Strathern, M. 2020. New and Old Worlds: A Perspective from Social Anthropology. European Review 28. First view: DOI: 10.1017/S1062798720000563
Tilly, C. 1978. From Mobilization to Revolution. Addison-Wesley.
Verdery, K. 1996. ‘A Transition from Socialism to Feudalism?’ In What Was Socialism and What Comes Next? Princeton University Press, pp.204-228.
Wajcman, J. 2015. ‘Introduction’ + ‘High-Speed Society’. In Pressed for Time. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, pp.1-35.
White, L. 2000  ‘Energy and the Evolution of Culture’. In McGee and Warns (eds.) Anthropological Theory. Mayfield Publishing Company, pp. 243-262.