Bruno Latour

From Object to Things: How to Represent the Parliament of Nature?

Date 10/17/05

Affiliation Professor & Curator, Ecole des Mines, Paris


"Things" are controversial assemblages of entangled issues, and not simply objects sitting apart from our political passions. The entanglements of things and politics engage activists, artists, politicians, and intellectuals. To assemble this parliament, rhetoric is not enough and nor is eloquence; it requires the use of all the technologies -- especially information technology -- and the possibility for the arts to re-present anew what are the common stakes. This talk will debrief and discuss "Making Things Public", a recent art show that provided a simulation of these issues.


Bruno Latour was trained first as a philosopher and then as anthropologist. After field studies in Africa and California, he specialized in the analysis of scientists and engineers at work. In addition to work in philosophy, history, sociology and anthropology of science, he has collaborated into many studies in science policy and research management. He has written Laboratory Life: the construction of scientific facts (Princeton University Press), Science in Action, and The Pasteurization of France (both at Harvard University Press). He also published a field study on an automatic subway system, Aramis or the love of technology, and an essay on symmetric anthropology: We have never been modern (both with Harvard and now translated in 22 languages). With the same publisher, he also published a series of essays, Pandora's Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies.

In a series of books in French he has been exploring the consequences of science studies on different traditional topics of the social sciences. Since 1982, Latour has been professor at the Centre de sociologie de l'Innovation at the Ecole nationale supirieure des mines in Paris and, for various periods, visiting professor at UCSD, at the London School of Economics and in the History of Science department of Harvard University. He has recently curated, with Peter Weibel, two art exhibitions at the ZKM Museum for Contemporary Art in Germany.

-- As of 10/17/05

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