by Adam Robbert
Via a Tim Morton: A new paper that blends object-oriented philosophy with actor-network theory has been published HERE. I suspect we are going to see a lot more papers like this; there’s just such a strong affinity between the work being done in the social sciences — in geography, political ecology, urban studies, and anthropology for example — and the people working on object-oriented philosophy. I tried my own hand at applying object-oriented principles to what’s often referred to as “place-based” research, which drives at many of the same core issues that object-oriented philosophers also deal with (e.g., the heterogeneous mix of practices, technologies, geographic spaces, and cultures that cohere to form a “place”). If object-oriented approaches to place seem relavent to your work you can view that paper HERE. (Mind you it’s an initial foray into the topic, and much remains to be said).
I think the take-away here is that object-oriented approaches to research (empirical, theoretical, or otherwise) are necessarily a post-disciplinary endeavor.
What I’m hoping is that we’ll see greater collaboration between philosophers, sociologists, and ecologists in and around these topics. We’re already beginning to see this in Levi Bryant’s more recent work, and in particular his post on social ecology. Social ecology and it’s associated fields — here I’m thinking of the work social scientists like Alf Hornborg are doing in human ecology — has much to contribute to object-oriented studies. In many respects social theorists have already done helpful research in the areas that object-oriented studies is now beginning to cover. However, the reverse is also true: The philosophical underpinnings of object-oriented studies have much to contribute to the work being done in the social sciences, which do not trade in as much philosophical investigation as is done in the humanities. Perhaps the Rutgers post-doc on “Objects and Environments” will emerge as an early place where this kind of work can emerge within the academy (the work is of course already happening outside the official spaces, but a little institutional support never hurts).