— Michael Guggenheim

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Events

This is the final performance of our project on Frederick’s sandtable (see here). Come and help us to find new forms of emergency provisons!

Francing with Frederick. A Civil Protection Exercise to Search and Abandon Emergency Provisions.
Thursday, 25th and Friday 26th of April, 19.30
Franz von Assisi Church, Mexikoplatz 12, 1020 Vienna.
Free entry.

„Oh Herr, in Deinem Arm bin ich sicher. wenn Du mich hältst, habe ich nichts zu fürchten. Ich weiß nichts von der Zukunft, aber ich vertraue auf Dich.“

Wie bereiten wir uns auf die grosse Überschwemmung vor? Wie auf den Zerfall der Gesellschaft? Indem wir einen Kuchen backen? Indem wir neue Freunde finden?  Indem wir einen Bunker bauen? Gar nicht?

Allgemeiner gefragt: Welche Notvorräte brauchen wir für welche Katastrophen?

Verfranzen mit Frederick ist eine kollektive Übung zur Findung und Entledigung von Notvorräten. Die Übung bildet den Abschluss von einem Forschungsprojekt mit dem Titel “Im Falle von….. Antizipatorische und partizipatorische Politik der Katastrophenvorsorge“. Das Projekt erforschte welche Katastrophenszenarien überhaupt in einer demokratischen Gesellschaft vorstellbar und diskutiert werden. Herkömmlicherweise werden solche Katastrophenszenarien von Experten in Ministerien entwickelt mit sogenannten Delphi-Methoden entwickelt. Das Problem dabei ist, dass diese Szenarien oft wenig überraschend sind, sowie über wenig demokratische Legitimation verfügen.

Um überraschendere und breiter abgestützte Katastrophenszenarien zu finden führten wir ein Experiment  mit ca. 100 Personen unterschiedlichen Hintergrunds durch.

Der Experimentalaufbau bestand aus einem Sandkasten auf einem Tisch und Tierfiguren sowie abstrakten Objekten. Die Spieler wurden aufgefordert im Sandkasten eine Welt zu erbauen und dann eine Katastrophe über diese Welt hereinbrechen zu lassen und schliesslich einen Notvorrat für diese Katastrophe zu erfinden.

Die Zivilschutzübung „Ver-franzen mit Frederick“ testet die in dem Experiment gefundenen Notvorräte auf ihre Brauchbarkeit: Jeder Notvorrat wird in einem eigenen Ritual getestet und anschliessend für entweder aufbewahrt oder vernichtet. Die Franz-von-Assisi Kirche ist der passende Ort für diesen Test: Sie ist benannt nach dem Heiligen, der es sich zum Prinzip machte, sich aller Notvorräte zu entledigen.

Das Forschungsprojekt und die  Zivilschutzübung sind gefördert durch einen “art(s) and science(s)” grant des Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologie Fonds (WWTF).

Ein Projekt von Shared Inc.

Konzept: Michael Guggenheim, Bernd Kraeftner, Judith Kroell,

Regie: Guillermo Luis Horta Betancourt

Mit Dank an: Pater Mario Maggi, Franz-von-Assisi Kirche Wien.

Forschungsprojekt:

Konzept: Michael Guggenheim, Bernd Kraeftner, Judith Kroell,

Mitarbeit: Gerhard Ramsebner, Isabel Warner

Das Experiment wurde mit freundlicher Unterstützung der Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, dem Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) in Bielefeld, und der Franz-von-Assisi Kirche in Wien durchgeführt.

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Apples and Oranges. Practicing Comparison

A two-day workshop exploring sociological and anthropological concepts around comparative practice.

Location: Orangerie, Surrey House. 80 Lewisham Way, London SE14 6PB (entrance from Shardeloes Road).

Cost: Free, but spaces are limited and registration is required at: organising.disaster@gold.ac.uk

The conference is based around pre-circulated papers/provocation pieces. Everybody who attends is expected to have read all the papers.

Organised by: “Organizing Disaster” (Michael Guggenheim, Zuzana Hrdlickova, Joe Deville) at the Department of Sociology/CSISP and “Gambling in Europe” (Rebecca Cassidy, Claire Loussouarn, Andrea Pisac) at the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Qualitative social science has become uneasy about comparing: it is easily frightened by both accusations from within quantitative traditions that assert the inability of its methods to control variables precisely enough and a colonial past in which cultural comparisons had a dubious taint of racism. However, despite being a loaded term, comparisons are nonetheless routine within qualitative social science, although they are often more implicit than explicit. We perform them in conferences where we group in thematically similar panels, in more or less strident academic debates, as well as in our everyday practices as a way to understand and contextualise our own research. However, we observe that this seemingly comparative practice is rarely named as such.

Further, we also suspect — while being acutely aware of the problematic history of comparison as a social scientific activity, whether in the service of forms of reductive positivism or a hierarchy of cultures — that this history does not explain the degree of ongoing sensitivities about the value of naming certain research as comparative. More directly, we suggest that abstaining from explicit comparisons unnecessarily constrains qualitative research.

This workshop seeks responses to this problematic by relating to the following topics:

* Accounts of Comparative Practices: What are the difficulties of (collaborative) comparative projects? How do projects deal with cases that refuse comparison, with fields that loose their comparative features and with theoretical concepts that fail to help to compare?

* Comparison policing: how is (non)comparative practice enacted and policed across academic life and in different disciplines?

* Strange comparisons: What is a ‘strange’ comparison? What is a ‘proper’ comparison?

* Incomparability/Failed comparisons:what are the limits to comparison? How are these limits performed? According to which modes of expertise?

* Comparison and value: Is comparison a technology of commensuration? What is lost? What is gained?

* Comparison and temporality: what kinds of comparisons are ‘restudies’? To what extent do comparisons across time equate to comparisons across space?

* Comparison, method and theory:how should theory inform comparative practice? At what point? Might experimental methodologies generate new registers for comparison?

* Beyond comparison: which other terms and frameworks can be used to describe the value of comparative practices? Which alternatives can be proposed to the strength and authority of certain ways of doing comparison in academic discourses and beyond?

—————

Programme:

Thursday 13th September

9.30-10.00            Welcome & introduction

10.00-12.00            Incomparable/Strange Comparisons |

Vita Peacock (University College London)

From Melanesia to the Max Planck Society: a cross-cultural comparison of the “big-man” category

Alice Santiago Faria (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Comparing the incomparable: architecture in colonial India(s)

Victoria Goddard and Elena Gonzalez-Polledo (Goldsmiths, University of London)

A riddle of steel: comparing trajectories in the steel industry

12.15-13.30            Failed and Strange Comparisons | Commentator: Monika Krause (Goldsmiths, University of London)

James Dawson (University College London)

Two contexts, many understandings of politics: learning through failure to compare

Giovanni Picker (Bristol University)

Comparing stigma? An experiment on ethnographic imagination

13.30-14.30            Lunch

14.30-15.45            Dialogue and Stumbling into Comparison |

Marc Brightman (Oxford University)

The jaguar and the bear: theoretical contributions of interregional comparativism

Tereza Stöckelová (Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)

Apples and oranges are fruits: inquiry into the frames of comparing

16.00-17.15            Collaborations and Stumbling |

Priska Gisler (Bern University of the Arts), Monika Kurath (University of Basel)

Aesthetic practices and epistemic cultures in architecture, design and the Fine Arts

Rebecca Cassidy, Claire Loussouarn, Andrea Pisac (Goldsmiths, University of London), Julie Scott (London Metropolitan University)

Embodying comparison within a ERC funded project

 

Friday 14th September

9.00-10.15            Collaborations | Commentator: Jennifer Robinson (University College London)

Joe Deville, Michael Guggenheim, Zuzana Hrdlickova (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Practising collaboration, producing comparison

Georgina Born, Geoff Baker, Aditi Deo, Andrew Eisenberg and Patrick Valiquet (Oxford University)

Music, digitisation, mediation: Experimenting with decentred vectors of comparison between six singular ethnographic projects

10.15-10.45            Coffee

10.45-12.45            Comparisons for Policy-Making and the Public |

Thorgeir Kolshus (University of Oslo)

Comparison: relatively important?

Kevin Hall (Frankfurt University), Torsten Heinemann (Frankfurt University), Ursula Naue (Vienna University)

IMMIGENE: Comparing DNA-testing for immigration cases in Austria, Finland, and Germany

Hannah Jones (Goldsmiths, University of London), Ben Gidley (Oxford University)

Transnational soup: translating local integration policies across borders

12.45-14.00            Lunch

14.00-15.15            Comparisons and Problems of Measurement | Commentator: Kate Nash (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Laura Camfield (University of East Anglia)

Measuring children’s social and cultural competencies in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sarah De Rijke (Leiden University), Paul Wouters (Leiden University, Roland Bal (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Iris Wallenburg (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Comparing comparisons. On rankings and accounting in hospitals and academia

15.30-16.45            Comparisons with Theories as Guides |

Marsha Rosengarten (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Shifting comparative registers: can a diagram rehabilitate the outlier?

Alvise Matozzi (Free University of Bozen)

Semiotics’s Razor. Using Semiotics as a Descriptive Methodology in Order to Compare Actor-Networks

16.45-17.15            Final commentator discussion:  Janet Carsten (The University of Edinburgh)

 

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Here is a blogpost over at CSISP blog for a tactical picnic, as part of the “engaging tactics” conference at Goldsmiths Department of Sociology in collaboration with the British Sociological Association and Goldsmiths’ Methods Lab in April 30th – May 1st, 2012, prepared together with Christian von Wissel, with contributions by the conference participants.

The aim of the conference was “to explore social sciences’ ways of engaging with the social world. The event seeks to explore how to (re)imagine the ‘tactics’ for producing and sharing social knowledge, focusing on the construction and upholding of meaningful and confiding relationships with both research participants and ‘emerging publics’.”

Our task: Create a lunch for the conference. Constraints: No money to pay cooks and little time to prepare and eat.

Our idea: Turn each talk into a tactic for buying, preparing, assembling and eating and have each presenter at the conference prepare one dish.

 

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Here is a call for papers, for a workshop that I co-organize:

Call for Papers: Apples and Oranges: Practicing Comparison

Three day workshop, 13-15 September 2012, Goldsmiths, University of London

Deadline for abstracts: April 20th 2012

Qualitative social science has become uneasy about comparing: it is easily frightened by both accusations from within quantitative traditions that assert the inability of its methods to control variables precisely enough and a colonial past in which cultural comparisons had a dubious taint of racism. However, despite being a loaded term, comparisons are nonetheless routine within qualitative social science, although they are often more implicit than explicit. We perform them in conferences where we group in thematically similar panels, in more or less strident academic debates, as well as in our everyday practices as a way to understand and contextualise our own research.

However, we observe that this seemingly comparative practice is rarely named as such. Further, we also suspect — while being acutely aware of the problematic history of comparison as a social scientific activity, whether in the service of forms of reductive positivism or a hierarchy of cultures — that this history does not explain the degree of ongoing sensitivities about the value of naming certain research as comparative.

More directly, we suggest that abstaining from explicit comparisons unnecessarily constrains qualitative research. This conference seeks responses to this problematic. Questions we are interested in exploring include — but are not limited to — the following:

* Accounts of Comparative Practices: What are the difficulties of (collaborative) comparative projects? How do projects deal with cases that refuse comparison, with fields that loose their comparative features and with theoretical concepts that fail to help to compare?

* Comparison policing:how is (non)comparative practice enacted and policed across academic life and in different disciplines?

* Strange comparisons:What is a ‘strange’ comparison? What is a ‘proper’ comparison?

* Incomparability/Failed comparisons:what are the limits to comparison? How are these limits performed? According to which modes of expertise?

* Comparison and value:Is comparison a technology of commensuration? What is lost? What is gained?

* Comparison and temporality:what kinds of comparisons are ‘restudies’? To what extent do comparisons across time equate to comparisons across space?

* Comparison, method and theory:how should theory inform comparative practice? At what point? Might experimental methodologies generate new registers for comparison?

* Beyond comparison:which other terms and frameworks can be used to describe the value of comparative practices? Which alternatives can be proposed to the strength and authority of certain ways of doing comparison in academic discourses and beyond?

 

We are keen to encourage interdisciplinary engagement around these questions, and welcome submissions from those working within anthropology, cultural studies, geography, Science and Technology Studies, sociology, and other related disciplines. We also encourage submissions that look at the practices of comparisons of actual, ongoing projects. This might be, for example, projects which struggle with making their objects comparable, or which test standard ideas about and objects of comparison, or collaborative projects dealing with the practice of comparison. Our focus in this event is less on theoretical or historical contributions and more on the way we perform comparisons in our everyday practice.

Abstracts of around 300-500 words should be sent to organising.disaster@gold.ac.uk by April 20th 2012.

Successful submissions, potentially drawing on participants’ own experiences, will be expected to circulate a short (1,000 — 3,000 words) response to the problematics sketched above by August 31st .

These will be circulated around conference participants in advance of the event, with the aim of stimulating richer, more productive dialogue. These need not be fully fleshed out academic papers, but can be looser responses to the problematic of comparison. We also invite contributors to suggest other formats as they prefer that either perform comparison or allow for specific insights into the issue of comparison.

There is a small amount of funding available for those without funding for travel and accommodation. Please indicate on your application if and how much funding you would need.

The conference is organised by the ERC-funded research projects “Organizing Disaster” (Michael Guggenheim, Zuzana Hrdlickova, Joe Deville) at the Department of Sociology/CSISP and “Gambling in Europe” (Rebecca Cassidy, Claire Loussouarn, Andrea Pisac) at the Department of Anthropology, both at the Goldsmiths, University of London.

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Here is a lecture series I organise this term, Tuesdays, Goldsmiths, RHB 137, Speakers: Liz Moor (1. Nov), Harry Collins (8 Nov), David Oswell (6. Dec) and Steve Fuller (13 Dec).

The audio files of Oswell’s and Fuller’s talk are here:

 

 

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The first talk on the new research project with Bernd Kraeftner and Judith Kroell. A Methods Lab Lecture at Goldsmiths, Sociology, Thursday 27 October, 5-7 pm Small Hall.

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