Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process

I have recently accepted the role of Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) alongside Michael Guggenheim and Marsha Rosengarten. I have been a member of CSISP, hosted by the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, since its inception in 2004, which was established by its first Director Andrew Barry and has previously been directed by Mariam Motamedi-Fraser, Mike Michael and Noortje Marres.


I’ve been interviewed as part of an AHRC commissioned project ‘ProtoPublics‘. As described on the site, during the interview I  talk “about ‘putting pressure on the social’, the potentials in the interface between computational technology and politics and how he uses Actor Network Theory (ANT) in his work”. ProtoPublics also features interviews with Rob Imrie, Rachel AldredTim Schwanen, Noortje Marres, Pelle  Ehn and Cat Rossi.

Speculation in Social Science

Last Friday I participated in a conference session at the British Sociological Association entitled ‘Speculation in Social Science: Novel Methods for Re-Inventing Problems’. The session was organised by Marsha Rosengarten, Michael Halewood, Jennifer Gabrys, Martin Savransky and myself as part of the Unit of Play.

University of Leeds Roger Stevens Building, designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon
University of Leeds Roger Stevens Building, designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.

Here’s the session blurb from the conference handbook: “In this panel members of a research cluster within the Unit of Play, Goldsmiths, will collectively discuss and develop approaches to speculative research and practice. Speculative approaches to research and practice are emerging across multiple fields as a way to develop not simply descriptive engagements with topics, but rather to make propositions that invent new possibilities for research and practice. Speculation may be considered a fitting response to a dynamic world that cannot be held, observed and acted upon without effect. Relatedly, its intention to engage with the dynamic and, hence, transformative nature of ‘things’, including the way in which distinctions between ‘things’ are situational, contingent and, therefore, always in process invites us to consider what we might seek in our research effect/s. In this session, we present some of the methodological premises for devising a mode of speculative research and, through reference to a series of empirical ‘problems’, offer a series of context specific illustrations of what novel methods – textual, visual, aural, digital – might do. In contrast to the usual order of selecting methods, it is their prospective doing that will be discussed as the guide to their design. Our key concern will be to address the question: What might a speculative research approach offer to the re-inventing of otherwise seemingly near intractable ‘problems’?”

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Experience as Evidence?

I’m participating in the symposium  ‘Experience as Evidence? – Sciences of Subjectivity in Healthcare, Policy and Practice’ at St Hughes College, Oxford in October 2014. I’ll be presenting a paper, co-authored with Mike Michael, entitled ‘Doing Speculation to Curtail Speculation’.

Here’s a description of the event: ‘Experience’ has long been referenced as a valuable, if ‘subjective’, resource in a variety of fields. Especially in healthcare, highly personal, embodied understandings of illness have been studied as an alternative to ‘objective’ biomedical knowledge and are often used to critique biomedical reductionism. In the wake of this critique, as well as burgeoning patient activism and health consumerism, over the last fifty years an industry has emerged that aims to capture, process and distribute the patient ‘experience’.

Participants include: Samantha AdamsMadeleine AkrichSusannah FoxHavi CarelTrisha GreenhalghTiago MoreiraJeannette PolsJohn PowellVololona RabeharisoaGlenn RobertTanja SchneiderNatascha SchüllPaul WicksSue ZieblandNeil ChurchillLouise LocockJames MunroSteve WoolgarMalte Ziewitz