Workshop: Epistemologies of Technology and Techniques

17 October 2013

Convenors: Guido Frison & Ludovic Coupaye

Wenner-Gren Foundation

25th-26th October 2013, UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW (UK)


This interdisciplinary workshop brings together representatives of different disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, history, philosophy, sociology, economics), which have all thought about/discussed/analysed concepts/phenomena pertaining to techniques and technology, and invites them to discuss the relevance and possibilities of establishing some degree of comparability between these different fields.

Through an investigation of the different epistemological threads underlying these disciplines, using a predefined set of questions, the workshop will outline the potentials – and limits of - a common analytical frame that will enable fruitful debates and help the development of methodologies and theories that anthropology can use to engage with contemporary issues related to ‘new’ technologies, innovations, policy making and associated notions such as technological impact, risk and solutions.

In order to do so, the participants will address the following questions in their own terms: What are the different conceptual frameworks underpinning today’s analyses of technology/techniques? How far do they connect to each other? Can they cohere? In spite of its pervasiveness, are “techniques” and “technology” in a pre-paradigmatic state ? Can thinking through “technology” provide a set of critical concepts to understand contemporary technical phenomena and debates?

Following preliminaries presentations (25th of October), the participant will collectively investigate further the discussion in a series of round table debate (26th of October).

  • What are the historical and theoretical foundations of Technology/Techniques?
  • Technology/Techniques and Production: Technology within Economics
  • Material Culture, Artefacts / Acts, Processes
  • Practical Knowledge, Sciences and (New?) Technologies

The debates will be recorded in order to lay the groundwork for further meetings, with the eventual goal being to publish an interdisciplinary volume with the participants, edited by the workshop organisers.