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Lecture 1

ANTH 4560 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Network Theory, Technological Determinism, Wield

Course Code
ANTH 4560
Sandra Widmer

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The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a Fluid Technology
In this paper we investigate the intricacies of an admirable water pumping device -
the Zimbabwe Bush Pump `B' type - so as to nd out what makes it an `appropriate
technology'. This turns out to be what we call the `"uidity' of the pump (of its
boundaries, or of its working order, and of its maker). We nd that in travelling to
intractable places, an object that isn't too rigorously bounded, that doesn't impose
itself but tries to serve, that is adaptable, "exible and responsive - in short, a "uid
object - may well prove to be stronger than one which is rm. By analyzing the
success and failure of this device, its agency and the way in which it shapes new
congurations in the Zimbabwean socio-technical landscape, we partake in the
current move in science and technology studies to transform what it means to be an
. And by mobilizing the term
for articulating our relation to the Bush
Pump, we try to contribute to shaping novel ways of `doing' normativity.
Nuts and bolts
Blue handle
Cement apron
Digging (by the community)
Shows us what makes a technology succeed. The boundary of the technology is not
limited to the material world (the physical parts of the technology), but only matters
in the context of the social world like digging, community, location. The material
matters just as much as the social.
Actor network theory –its bout how technology and humans interact with
each other and rejects the cause and e3ects of (technology and society).
Assumption that there’s a meaning attached to a certain technology for
example using the laptop for homework, but it can be for other uses too.
Churches Without Chairs: How Christians Used to Worship. Does this article
demonstrate technological determinism? Yes.
Here and there, in the painting, groups of two and three people stood talking as
though they’d happened upon each other in passing—as though on a sidewalk or in
a town square. But here they were indoors. “Where are the seats?” I wondered.
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In other words, for the rst
centuries of Christianity, people stood
throughout the worship service.
But something else happened. Something unexpected. With pews came the social
classes. The social hierarchy from out there became the social hierarchy in here.
Whereas before people constantly mingled in an ever-shifting, always-moving
group, now, with seats, people began to distance themselves from one another.
Given a more controlled space, people asserted their rights and privileges for the
better seats. With it, equality began to break down
We experience similar dynamics in two modern venues: in a stadium and at a
concert in a bar. At a sporting event, the wealthiest people generally buy the best
seats closest to the action. But at a concert with standing room only, everyone pays
the same price and stands wherever they can nd space. There's no preferential
treatment being governed by the furniture. Today, churches are more like stadiums.
The injustices that came with pews show us how much in"uence a technology can
wield when we thoughtlessly adopt it. Who would have imagined that a few pieces
of furniture would reinforce the class system? Today, segmentation still happens.
People still tend to sit in the same general locations each Sunday. But the class
con"ict has diminished more or less—the pews have been better integrated.
Do Artifacts have Politics?
He built a bridge and buses couldn’t pass under them so people in
buses were lower classes and couldn’t a3ord to pass. Winners
question is “does tech have inherent power”? Politics to it? He’s
saying there’s the technologically deterministic people, then there
are the standard analysis of the social construction of tech where
they look at the politics of tech. what he is asking though is that
are there some tech that just in the way they work have politics to
them? Some technologies have intended consequences which can
be controlled. Nuclear power is going to have to be associated
with totalitarian political structures.
Langdon winner
Is the social construction of technology enough? No. nuclear
power for example in and of the technology, its not enough to
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