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PHILOSOPHICAL
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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: de Laet Marianne

de Laet Marianne

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science, Technology, and Society, delaet@hmc.edu. Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, Harvey Mudd College (HMC), 301 Platt blvd, 91711 Claremont, CA, USA.

Publications

The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a Fluid Technology / Logos. 2017. № 2 (117). P. 171-232
annotation:  This paper investigates frontiers of extension of agency and qualities of “appropriate technology” with an example of Bush Pump “B” type. This pump turns out to be such a technology due to something that the authors call the “fluidity” of the pump (of its boundaries, or of its working order, and of its maker). They find that in travelling to intractable places, an object that is not too rigorously bounded, that doesn’t impose itself but tries to serve, that is adaptable, flexible and responsive — in short, a fluid object — may well prove to be stronger than one which is firm. By analyzing the ways in which this device shapes new configurations in the Zimbabwean socio-technical landscape, the authors join the current move in science and technology studies to transform what it means to be an actor. They argue that technologies don not necessarily have to hold themselves as actor-networks to act. The fluidity metaphor allows us to show that there are technologies that do not need any network to spread themselves. Such technologies can extend themselves without a technological general, forming alliances with heterogeneous forces to spread his or her creatures, like Pasteur depicted by Bruno Latour. Thus, the authors approve the notion of symmetry in the actor-network theory, but refuse to universalize the actor-network metaphor throughout the whole world of techno-science. And by mobilizing the term “love” for articulating our relation to the Bush Pump, they try to contribute to shaping novel ways of “doing” normativity.
Keywords:  appropriate technology; normativity
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