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Thinking par le milieu: Cosmopolitics I

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  1. Nathan Brown critically assesses the spread of object-oriented ontology in the academy, particularly within the humanities. He gives an overview of two of the most important books in this field, Harman’s Tool-Being, the original position that argues for the non-relational status of objects, and Morton’s recent Realist Magic, which follows and elaborates this ontology, and its tenuous associations with quantum physics. Brown (2013) says of this trend, “Despite the precipitously diminishing returns of Harman’s work, despite clear-headed assessments of its pop-philosophical opportunism by former allies, and despite the thoroughgoing lucidity with which its conceptual incoherence has been diagnosed, ‘object-oriented ontology’ has succeeded in establishing itself as an apparently viable academic trend”.

  2. Stengers emphasizes the importance of reciprocal capture: “The concept of ‘reciprocal capture’, like all those that bring to mind the stability of a relation without reference to an interest that would transcend its terms, allows us to emphasize the consequences of the ecological perspective I intend to adopt, primarily the lack of relevance in this perspective of the customary opposition between fact and value, the first referring to the order of ‘facts’ the second to a purely human judgment. Whenever there is reciprocal capture, value is created” (Stengers, 2010, p. 36).

  3. Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison provide a brilliant analysis of the emergence of the category of objectivity through their examination of the making of scientific images. See Daston and Galison (2010).

  4. For an overview of government actions that many scientists feel limits their ability to do conduct and disseminate research in Canada, see and

  5. For an extended explication of both the methods and politics of decolonizing methodologies, see Sandoval (2000), Tuhiwai Smith (2012). For an insightful analysis of the relation between climate change and indigenous knowledges, see Shiela Watt-Cloutier’s address on climate change and human rights to Climat2050 (

  6. Stengers’ position on Gaia as the one who intrudes as her answer to the narrative problem of ecological catastrophe can be found in Stengers (2009).


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  • Debaise, D. (2013) A philosophy of interstices: Thinking subjects and societies from Whitehead's philosophy. Subjectivity 6: 101–111.

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  • Sandoval, C. (2000) Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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  • Stengers, I. (2009) Au temps des catastrophes. Résister à la barbarie qui vient. Paris, France: La Découverte.

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  • Stengers, I. (2010) Cosmopolitics I. Translated by R. Bononno. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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  • Stengers, I. (2011) Thinking with Whitehead: A Free and Wild Creation of Concepts. Translated by M. Chase. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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  • Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, 2nd edn. London: Zed Books.

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I would like to thank Michael Nardone for his editorial suggestions and generosity in putting this review together, as well as the BioSocieties editors Nicholas Langlitz and Cathy Waldby.

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Davis, H. Thinking par le milieu: Cosmopolitics I. BioSocieties 9, 95–98 (2014).

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