Symmetrical Anthropology of Technologies: From Cultures to Collectives of Mobilities in the Description of “Self-Driving Cars”
[Simmetrichnaia antropologiia tekhnologii: ot kul’tur k kollektivam mobil’nostei v opisanii “bespilotnykh avtomobilei”]
Type of publication: Research Article
self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, symmetrical anthropology, ontological turn, Bruno Latour, mobilities, science and technology studies, actor-network theory, anthropology of technology
The article deals with the analysis of “self-driving cars” from the perspective of symmetric anthropology. Theoretically, the work is at the intersection of mobility research and science and technology research. Empirically, it focuses on public discussions about the construction and testing of “self-driving cars”. I explicate the key features of the symmetric anthropology approach proposed by Bruno Latour as an extension of research in science and technology. I further discuss the potential of symmetric anthropology for the transformation of important concepts of “mobility” and “culture of mobility”. Empirical examples demonstrate the significance of these transformations for the study of “self-driving cars”. I criticize the notion of “selfdriving cars” in order to refocus anthropological description on the materials and energies of the forms of movement produced by this technology. Finally, I propose moving away from the concept of “culture of mobility” to the concept of “collectives of mobility” in order to explore the multiplicity, locality, alternativeness, and cultivation of forms of movement outside the culture-nature dichotomy.
Funding InformationThis research was supported by the following institutions and grants: Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 20-78-10106]
Kuznetsov, A.G. 2022. Simmetrichnaia antropologiia tekhnologii: ot kul’tur k kollektivam mobil’nostei v opisanii “bespilotnykh avtomobilei” [Symmetrical Anthropology of Technologies: From Cultures to Collectives of Mobilities in the Description of “Self-Driving Cars”]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 9–29. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954152201002X
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