Now published in Theory, Culture & Society
Issues of measure and measurement, and their relation to value and values, are of concern in several major threads in contemporary social theory and social research. In this paper, the notion of ‘measure-value environments’ is introduced as a theoretical lens through which the life of measures can be better understood. A number of points are made which represent both a continuation and a slight change in emphasis vis-à-vis the existing scholarship. First, it is argued that the relation between measure and value is necessarily circular – better, entangled. Second, a conceptualisation of measures as territorialising devices is advanced. Third, importance is given to the fact that measures are not simply tools in our hands, they are also environments in which we live. Fourth, attention is drawn to the fact that the unit (n=1) is not just a quantitative happening among others, but is qualitatively distinct.
The Social Life of Measures (pre-print version)
Published in Graffiti and Street Art. Reading, Writing and Representing the City.
Edited by Konstantinos Avramidis, Myrto Tsilimpounidi. London: Routledge, 2017.
Paginated pdf version
On Foucault’s Kehre towards the Subject
A chapter in Andreas Oberprantacher & Andrei Siclodi (Eds.) Subjectivation in Political Theory and Contemporary Practices
An essay from 2008, now freely available here – http://qds.revues.org/892
On the multi-temporality of territorial production and the gift from John Soane
Published in Time & Society
Territoriality has primarily been seen as a spatial rather than temporal phenomenon. In this paper, we want to investigate how time functions in territorialising processes. In particular, we are attracted by the multi-temporality that is co-present in each process of territorialisation (i.e. processes in which time and space are used as means of measure, control, and expression). The article is divided into two main parts. In the first part we draw inspiration from Gilles Deleuze’s book Logic of Sense, as well as from authors such as Simmel, Whitehead, Benjamin and Jesi, in order to articulate three different types of the present (Aion, Kronos and Chronos). In the second part we move to a short case study of the collector John Soane and the establishment of his house-museum. The case is used to exemplify how these three presents can be used to discuss and temporal aspects of territorialisation in general, and the production of a specific sort of territory – the house-museum as a new building type – in particular.
Territorial Production; Temporality of the Present; Aion, Kronos, Chronos; Collectionism; House-museum
Sir John Soane’s Museum, The Dome Area (photograph by courtesy of Jesper Magnusson)
Photo courtesy | Jesper Magnusson
Abstract. The recent, rich scholarship on rhythms proves that rhythmanalysis is extremely important and helpful as a sensitising attitude and a research technique. Despite its increasing recognition, rhythmanalysis has not yet become a proper science as its proponents had hoped. In this article we argue that rhythmanalysis could benefit from being further developed and integrated into a wider science of territories. What we need to attain is not simply a recording, capturing or description of rhythms; instead, the real goal is to capture the life of rhythms as they enter territorial formations. In other words, we invite to bring a neo-vitalistic conception into the social-scientific understanding of the relation between rhythms and territories. More specifically, we suggest that the notion of rhythm could be explored not only in terms of the recurrent patterns of association it defines, but also with essential reference to the intensive situations and moments it generates and, in the end, territorialises. As a case study to highlight this, we focus on a particular territorial sort, the urban playground.
Keywords. Science of Territories; Social Rhythms; Rhythmanalysis; Urban Playgrounds; Territorial intensities
Apparirà in La società degli individui, n. 56, anno XIX, 2016/2
A un primo sguardo, onore e dignità sembrano opporsi come l’arcaico e il moderno. In questo senso, la missione che il pensiero moderno, “democratico”, si auto-attribuisce è di sconfiggere e superare una regolazione sociale di tipo aristocratico. L’onore viene così considerato da un’ampia gamma di pensatori moderni come retaggio di forme tribali, particolariste ed elitarie di interazione sociale, a cui viene contrapposta una nuova forma morale universalista e democratica, quella della dignità. Tale, in breve, è il sogno kantiano che Rawls (2000: 328) ha denominato “aristocrazia di tutti”. Ma, come la stessa espressione paradossale lascia intravedere, il rapporto tra onore e dignità è estremamente più complesso di una semplice antitesi.
Understanding the Animation of Domesticity
A Mongolian Ongon
Abstract. Domesticity is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. In this piece, we approach it from the point of view of a general theory of territories. To do so, we attempt to tackle simultaneously the ecological and spiritual dimensions of home by attending the expressive dimension of domesticity. We emphasise that the expressiveness of home inherently includes the register of the familiar as well as that of the unfamiliar (Freud’s unheimlich). The constant negotiations between these two registers can be appreciated as carried out ‘at the limits of control’. To highlight this fact, we focus on the case of the ‘little humans’, miniature humanoid creatures well attested in traditional mythologies and folk tales across different civilisations. Drawing from anthropological and ethnographic literature, yet with a leading interest in social-spatial theorising, we seek to untangle the relations between humans and the ‘little humans’ – these ‘elusive others’ living with us – in order to clarify the deep meanings ingrained in domestic territories.
Keywords: domestic territories; territoriology; little humans; limits of control; parasites; crowds; animism.
Introduction: Inquiring into domestic expressions
The elusive others living with us
Patterns of relations and the limits of control
On formative processes and territorial production
Human embryo 4 mm long, 30 days old
Abstract. This piece explores the issues of morphogenesis and metamorphosis in socio-spatial formations and social assemblages. The specific key provided here to apprehend the issue of ‘form’ is what we propose to call the ‘animistic moment’ in form-taking processes. We believe that a conceptualisation of animistic moments might help us to better understand, not simply the coming about, but the specific yet elusive power forms are endowed with. The general social-theoretical horizon for the essay is an approach to social collectives as forms of territorialisation and territorial stabilisation. An inquiry into the genesis and the transformation of forms through animistic moments, we suggest, might also be employed in the study of processes of social territorialisation at large.
Keywords: social theory; genesis of forms; formative processes; individuals and social aggregates; socio-spatial formations; animistic moments;
1. The mystery of appearances
2. Metamorphosis and investments into form
3. Form-taking and the environment
4. The formation of individual collectives
5. Animistic moments and the revelations of form
6. Territorial production through animation
Now published in Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory
Fixing the Shadow / Beyond the Law (1992)
Abstract. Camouflage is usually understood as a type of deceitful communication
strategy in the animal and human domains. In this piece, we invite scholars to consider how the phenomenon of camouflage, while certainly grounded in antagonism and selection, might exceed its strategic meaning. Using the case of undercover agents movies, we attempt to flesh out the inner logic of camouflage and the type of social-existential situations it gives shape to. Exploring the mundane practical problem of ‘infiltration’ into a social group or social milieu, the article zooms in onto the experience of camouflage and highlights its relatedness to and distinction from imitation. Camouflage is here used not as an overarching interpretive category, rather, as an instance that reveals something about the problems inherent in the constitution of inter-subjective life. The article seeks to contribute to a theoretical development in the study of social logic and social teleology, stressing the curious entanglement of deliberate strategic action and irrational desire that contradistinguishes what could be called the ‘aberrant conjunction’ of the camoufleur and its target. Camouflage, we conclude, is not only about make-believe but also, crucially, about desiring and learning to desire.
Keywords: Mimicry, Camouflage, Undercover movies, Infiltration, Social logic, Social phenomenology, Inter-Subjectivity
The Functions of Camouflage
The Logic of Camouflage
The Existential Phenomenology of Camouflage
The Paradoxes of Camouflage, or, Learning to Desire
http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/PNcAa3KNVDYUT3yZ6jhR/full (50 free downloads)
Andrea Mubi Brighenti & Andrea Pavoni 2016
The bear Daniza with her two cubs, in summer 2014
Abstract. This piece explores ‘domesticity’ as a social territory defined by the relationship it entertains with the conceptual and material space of ‘the wild’. The leading research question can be framed as follows: do these two spaces stand in opposition to each other, or are more subtle relations of co-implication at play? As we enquiry into the domestic and the wild, a richer conceptual map of notions is drawn, which also includes the public, the common, the civilised and the barbarian. The case study that illustrates this dense intermingling of categories is offered by the case of Daniza, a wild brown bear introduced in the Brenta Natural Park on the Italian Alps in the 2000s, who repeatedly came into unexpected, accidental contacts with humans. Declared a ‘dangerous animal’, Daniza was controversially killed by public authorities in 2014, officially in an attempt to capture her with anaesthetising bullets, but in a way that still leaves doubts about the degree of voluntariness of the killing. The piece argues that the domestic and the wild constitute two semiotic-material domains constantly stretching into each other without any stable or even clear boundary line, and elaborates a series of corollaries for studying animals in urban contexts.
Keywords: Domesticity; Domestication; Wildness; Bears; Urban Animals; Territorial Governance
Introduction – Domesticity as Urban Prolongation
- Animal Governance, Domestication, and Classification
- Locating the Wild in the Urban
- Domesticity, Domestication and Civilisation
- The Unlucky Case of Bear Daniza
- Which Sort of Wild?
- The Barbarian
A Lecture I’m giving at The Debt Complex Spring School – 19-21 May 2016, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
martedì 24 maggio 2016 ore 13:00 AULA SEMINARI SPS (stanza 215, lato Passione)
Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, Economiche e Sociali – via Conservatorio 7, Milano
Una relazione al seminario Giustizia, architettura, diritti. Visioni e pratiche della città contemporanea, Napoli, 29 aprile 2016.
A speech I’m giving at the conference Understanding Visual Culture – Interdisciplinary Perspectives – Bologna, 21-22 April 2016
Lezione al Corso di dottorato in Scienze sociali, Università di Padova
5 aprile 2016 – h. 14-17 – Sala Specchi – Via Cesarotti 10/12 – Padova