Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Counter-Performativity Bashing

Yuval Millo patiently rises to the defense of performativity:

1.  Yes, it’s just like ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’ but he and Mackenzie “show in detail how self-fulfilling prophecy comes about, how it becomes institutionalized, under what conditions it is ‘reversed’ and we expose the crucial role that non-human actors play in the process.”

2. The accusation that researchers ‘go native’ to understand the performativity of a theory misses the point.  The strongest STS and SSK works “strive to understand the techno-scientific knowledge embedded in the machines/devices studied and, critically, they identify and analyze the reflections of the larger political, social and cultural circumstances where these technologies were developed … by understanding the minute details of, say, how credit derivates are designed sheds new light on the macro conditions of neo-liberalism and gain better understanding of the crash.”
3. Finally, he elaborates a point made initially by ANT scholars in the 80s: “the fact that economic theory is being ‘made accurate’ does not mean that the theory or ‘economics’ operated so that this aim is achieved. Instead, performativity is the result (which is frequently unintended) of hybrid networks of actors who operate so as to promote a variety of agendas (scientific, political, commercial, etc.).”  In other words, simple epistemologies really don’t cut the mustard because they obscure how technologies - human and nonhuman assemblages - are tamed 

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