Matter and Organisation stream in Politics and Ethnography in an Age of Uncertainty Conference

Matter and Organisation

Stream Organisers: Hannah Knox and Penny Harvey

12th Annual International Ethnography Symposium
Politics and Ethnography in an Age of Uncertainty
The University of Manchester
29th August - 1st September 2017
Keynotes: Bill Maurer, Bruno Latour, Emma Crewe, Hugh Willmott

This stream poses the question of what role materials of different kinds play in contemporary organization. The organization of matter is central to the work of business and management. From the extraction of oil, coal and gas in the energy industries, to the use of minerals in mobile phone and computer chip development, from the pressure to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the face of climate change, to a move towards thinking in terms of resource efficiency and ethically sourced products, organizations must grapple with the appearance, force, value and power of materials and their properties.

This panel invites papers that take as an ethnographic focus the role that materials play in processes of organisation. We are interested in exploring how materials such as concrete, carbon, nuclear waste, water, sand, fabric, gold, energy, data or metal come to matter within the context of contemporary business and management? What is being done to materials within the context of contemporary organization and what are materials in turn doing to economic and political relations? How does the status of materials change as resources come into confrontation with health and safety, risk, conservation, and the repurposing of materials to new ends? What happens to organisation when materials are combined, made multiple, compound or hybrid? What are the technical, social and imaginative means by which materials come to participate in social worlds? How are materials known, interrogated, and responded to? And what are the challenges now being posed by new materials such as nanotechnologies, smart fabrics, or sensory matter?

By viewing organization through an attention to materials, this panel will ground the issue of uncertainty that this symposium aims to address in a materialist paradigm. It will offer a means of interrogating futurity, risk, anticipation and visions of the future via the affordances, tendencies and resistance of matter as it moves in and out of meaning and in and out of place.

Please submit a 250 word abstract to h.knox@ucl.ac.uk<mailto:h.knox@ucl.ac.uk> by February 28th 2017.