Monday, November 3, 2014 - 12:15pm to 2:00pm
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Room 100F, Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

STS Circle at Harvard

Richard Rottenburg (University of Halle, Anthropology) on "Emerging “Global Health” Institutions in Africa: Technologies and Significations"

Abstract: Designing and planning the future of societies, let alone world society at large, have been discredited and much critiqued activities since quite some time, yet they somehow continue with the same vigor. This, I will argue, is unavoidable for some very specific reasons that are good to know. While the “technological fix” has repeatedly been exposed as impossible, it continues to be an alluring dream, yet some things are changing and these need clarification. Technologies do indeed travel fast. However, the issue is their institutionalization, and this is related in specific ways to socio-technical, juridical and economic infrastructures and to processes of signification. Planned and designed attempts to improve health services in African development contexts offer prolific fields to examine questions on the emergence of new institutions in general.

Biography: Richard Rottenburg holds a chair in anthropology at the University of Halle (Germany) and is currently Heuss-Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York (USA). His research focuses on the anthropology of law, organization, science and technology (LOST). He has written journal articles, books and edited books on economic anthropology, networks of formal organizations, the making of objectivity, biomedicine and governmentality, and on theorizing translation, experimentalization and governance. Recent publications in English are: Far-fetched Facts. A Parable of Development Aid, (2009); Travelling Models in African Conflict Management. Translating technologies of social ordering. Leiden and Boston: Brill (ed. with Andrea Behrends and Sung-Joon Park, 2014).

Sandwich lunches are provided. Please RSVP to by Wednesday at 5PM the week before.

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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