Fieldwork as a Technique of Existence - A Public Seminar

Monday 3rd March 2014, 16.30-18.30, WTA Goldsmiths

A Public Seminar with Dr. Todd Meyers (Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University, USA) and Professor Sophie Day (Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London)
Unit of Play, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

We kindly invite you to attend the first seminar of the "Techniques of Existence" series that will be running throughout the Spring and Autumn terms at the Unit of Play.
The theme of 'Techniques of Existence' designates an approach to a transversal study of practices as inventive of subjective forms, that is, creative of effects and affects on both the objects and subjects they connect. Such a notion invites a discussion around the capacities of technical practices (scientific, artistic, medical, and religious) to shape certain modes of inhabiting the world as well as the concrete ethical relations among the different actors summoned by such techniques. It allows for an exploration of the ways in which practices arrange disparate elements such as rituals, instruments, procedures, and problematic forms of togetherness into entangled and open relations which are always susceptible of transformation. For example, by exploring the history of the notion of 'objectivity' as a technique of existence in the practice of scientific atlas-making, historians Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (2010) have argued that 'objectivity' operates not just as an epistemological regulative ideal at which scientific practices aim, but also, and crucially, it contributes to the shaping of a particular kind of scientific self. Similarly, the proliferation of forms of engagement in alternative medical and holistic practices such as yoga invites an exploration of the techniques involved from the point of view of their etho-poietic efficacy, namely, their capacity to transform the user's or practitioner's relationship to herself so as to allow for the emergence of certain effects (Barcan, 2008, 2011). This series of 5 Interdisciplinary Public Events will bring together international scholars and PhD students to discuss approaches to ToE in various domains such as Science, Medicine, Religion, Art and Philosophy.

In this session, Todd Meyers and Sophie Day will be discussing experiences and processes related to ethnographic fieldwork from the point of view of the technical, creative and transformative dimensions that its multiple engagements oftentimes entail (for abstracts see

Free event, all welcome.

Organized by Martin Savransky and Patricio Rojas

The ToE series is funded by the DTC ESRC Multidisciplinary Funding Scheme.

For more information on 'Techniques of Existence', see our website at .?

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