Universität Wien FIND

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240521 SE The Fetish of Technology (P4) (2019S)

Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung

Participation at first session is obligatory!



max. 25 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch


Termine (iCal) - nächster Termin ist mit N markiert

Freitag 08.03. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 22.03. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 05.04. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum A, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 03.05. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 17.05. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 31.05. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 14.06. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Freitag 21.06. 09:45 - 13:00 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung


The fetish of technology signalizes those aspects of our artificial environments that are not mere "technical" achievements, but also symbolic, economic and political materializations of how social relations of power are configured (and often obscured) in specific contexts. In this course students will learn to use the conceptual tool of the "fetish" to observe how symbolic and material aspects of technology are articulated in a way that provides "technical" legitimations of social inequality.

Lehrinhalt und Methode:

This seminar will approach central debates around "technology" as a part of human material culture that is particularly vulnerable to fetishization, that is: subject to the disguising of the relations of power existing behind "the thing". Texts, videos and empirical examples will be brought to the fore and analyzed, so that students see how can anthropology compare the accounts of technology that characterize natural and technical sciences, politics, economics and public opinion. "Western" and "non-Western" versions of "technology" and "fetishes" will be likewise contrasted, with the final goal of providing a cross-ethnographic perspective of how the material, the technical and the symbolic dimensions of technology interpenetrate each other in different contexts with different consequences for the constitution of social orderings.

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

Participation, presentations, final essay

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

Participation in the course + text presentation (mandatory): 30 %

Presentation of the final essay project: 10%

Final essay (4-8 pages): 60%

* to be evaluated positively, only one course session can be missed (except for medical reasons etc.)


Presentations, written paper, engagement in discussions and work in small groups



*Mandatory literature and videos will be specified the first day of class.

GELL, Alfred (1988) Technology and Magic. Anthropology Today 4(2): 6-9
HARVEY, D. (2003). ‘The fetish of technology: causes and consequences’. Macalester
International 13(7):330
HEIDEGGER, Martin. (1978) The Question Concerning Technology. Basic writing.
From Being and Time (1927) to the task of thinking (1964) Farrel, D. (ed.). Pp. 283-
318. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
HORNBORG, Alf (1992) Machine Fetishism, Value and the Image of Unlimited
Good: Towards a Thermodynamics of Imperialism. Royal Anthropological Institute
of Great Britain and Ireland 27(1): 1-18.
INGOLD, Tim (2000) The perception of the environment. Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill. London: Routledge.
LATOUR, Bruno. & LEMONNIER, Pierre (1994) De la prehistoire aux missiles aux.
L’intelligence sociale des techniques. Paris: La Découverte.
MUMFORD, Lewis (1972) Technics and the Nature of Man. Philosophy & Technology: Readings on the Philosophical Problems of Technology. Mitcham, C. & Mackey, R, (eds.). Pp.77-85. New York: The Free Press.
PFAFFENBERGER, Bryan (1992) Social Anthropology of Technology. Annual Review
of Anthropology 21: 491-516.
(1988) Fetished objects and humanised nature: towards an anthropology of
technology. Royal anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Source Man, New
Series 3 (2): 236-252

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis

Letzte Änderung: Mo 07.09.2020 15:40