Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Students
Primary Theme: Materiality
Secondary Theme: Technology
This panel brings together ethnographic research that explores the dynamic and compelling pull of socio-techno-scientific objects, from fossils to cameras to clutter. The objects at the center of these papers are not living beings, yet they resemble charismatic life forms in multiple ways, particularly in how they draw human interlocutors into imaginative engagement. Moreover, these objects challenge traditional biological notions of ‘life,’ stretch understandings of time, and expand practices of the self. Such a focus engages questions of affect, vitality, liveliness, dynaminism and meaning in relation to materiality. This panel positions the objects in these papers alongside other charismatic inorganics previously identified by scholars, such as algorithms, ice, buildings, and even compelling data visualizations. The panel builds on work in the anthropology of science and technology that challenges taken-for-granted divisions between life and its others, the human and the nonhuman, and the organic and inorganic.