CISP Online

Blog of the Centre for Invention & Social Process, Goldsmiths

Kristin Asdal on office politics: taking nature into account/ing


Kristin Asdal (University of Oslo) gave a talk at CSISP entitled An ordinary technology of politics: The office as a device for taking nature into account/ing. Kristin is professor of Science, Technology and Culture at the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK). Her work is concerned with political ecology and the technologies of politics and foregrounds the role of mundane political institutions.

Her lecture explores two relevant governmental settings or ‘offices,’ Norway’s pollution agency and its Ministry of Finance, and asks how these settings make it possible for nature to be taken into account(ing). Asdal’s analysis focuses on the articulation of environmental issues as political objects, arguing that it takes work for the environment to enter into politics. She proposes that governmental settings and their attendant devices such as budget procedures and long-term programs are of critical importance in this respect, and she employs notions like interested objects, relational spaces and practices of timing to make sense of this process.

The recordings also include the comments by respondent Jennifer Gabrys, a CSISP member and since recently senior lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths. Her response covers various themes in the talk and beyond it: the enactment of nature through social science methods and number, the production of non-authority as a political effect, and the role of devices of environmental accounting in the enboldening and folding of political spaces, including but not limited to the factory, the ministry and the forest.

The ensuing discussion – also available for download  – covers issues such as the concept of devices and how to operationalize it, and the complicity of STS analysis in its objects.

The lecture and responses can be downloaded here: Talk  and Comments and discussion.


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