Technology and Political Economy – University of Copenhagen

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Technology and Political Economy

Still more anthropologists study different technological phenomena, systems and contexts, often as part of the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS) spearheaded by philosophers like Bruno Latour, Annemarie Mol, and Isabel Stengers. At the same time, the late-18th century field of political economy has undergone something of a revival within anthropology (in the works of, say, James Ferguson, Katherine Verdery, and Anna Tsing) in more or less explicit attempts to reinvigorate the discipline's critical potential by combining a systematic and often historical focus on local and global power asymmetries with the analytical rigour of classic socio-economic anthropology.

Technology and Political Economy is a researcher group at the UCPH anthropology department, which aims to bring together these two hitherto mostly separate strands of scholarship. Foregrounding unexpected comparison, conceptual innovation, and ethnographic collaboration, the group promotes anthropological research on all intersections, imbrications and tensions between technical and political-economic practices and systems. We take technology to be all artefacts and devices created to enlarge peoples' powers and capacities (while potentially diminishing the capacities of others, be they human or nonhuman) within all societal and cultural contexts, ranging from biotech and financial algorithms to seemingly more mundane and everyday tools, instruments and infrastructures (human and social technologies in the Foucaultian tradition are not eliminated from this list, but do not define our main focus). By political economy we understand all structures, hegemonies, and inequalities of power, production, distribution and consumption across different scales like market places, regional spheres of exchange, transnational regimes of value and (mistrust), and global chains of capital and concepts.

Starting from the conviction that anthropology has much to offer ongoing cross-disciplinary scholarship and policy-discussions concerning current global developments and future challenges. our ambition is to facilitate empirically solid and theoretically daring anthropological research on the dynamics of broader political-economic and technological shifts coupled with a critical focus on everyday practices and understandings in all corners of the world. Bringing together scholars and students with different topical interests and regional expertise around this shared agenda, we like to see ourselves as an open-ended academic forum, which can serve as a platform for experiments with new formats of research and teaching, and their mutual imbrication. We are thus emphatically not a closed group with a finite set of questions, and we welcome new inputs from people who would like partake in our exploration of pressing matters of concern, which we may help to tackle and perhaps even resolve.