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Actor-Network Theory Double-Symposium
Symposium Organiser: Steve Wright, enrolled members of the ANT Facebook Group, Educational Research, Lancaster University
This double-symposium offers enactments of ANT and enactments of networked learning in which the inseparability of humans and non-humans are brought to the fore. The symposium is also an experiment, an interfering in what might be regarded as a typical symposium: a collection of papers written around a particular theme. It might be argued that some, perhaps much, work in the ANT-tradition can be regarded as both playful and improvisational in interfering with well-established practices and structures. In this spirit, we seek in this symposium at this conference to place ANT in dialogue with other frameworks in networked learning such as community of Practice Theory (COP) and Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and to speak truth to acronyms by representing this as an ANT having a CHAT with a COP.
More seriously, how best do we convey something of ANT that is both useful to those unsure of its ideas and useful for people trying to plan their conference schedule? In what follows we first try and give a taste of a little what ANT does as an approach and some of its concerns and interests, then introduce the elements of the symposium where we will materialise the taster - through tasting.
If you are reading this then there is a fair chance you submitted a paper for the conference. In doing so you would have encountered the templates for submissions. That document tightly controlled how papers were formatted: the fonts used, margins and spacing and other things that you can do with text and how to format references to other research artefacts. The templates also act to stop you from doing some things, including exactly what we are doing here: using a different font, different margins with a different justification (bad pun intended). ANT explores the ways non-human objects interact with humans and are delegated this kind of power and control: this agency. The template is the conference standards made durable and enforced at a distance. The rules are translated into a different format: rather than just being words and instructions they are now word processor styles and restrictions. Approaches informed by ANT look closely at how these create and affect practices, how assemblages of non-human actors, or “actants” (here: words, templates, formatting rules) come together with human actants in order to flatten such distinctions and enable symmetrical considerations of the way agencies operate to assemble actor-networks and how these become stable or fall apart. ANT is interested in practices, in how they enact different realities: here the conference is enacted as a set of rules for formatting and presenting research through words and standards. In our symposium, ANT is enacted multiply, as is networked learning, as is a symposium.
So back to this text which is creating a putative reality (Law, 2012) about a symposium that relies on my writing practices and your reading practices. So why am I writing this in a different format? ANT borrows heavily from its intellectual antecedent ethnomethodology. By breaching this template, by breaking rules that were made absent by a template these are exposed and made present. However, this breaching is done within and by using the methods of the phenomena under study: changing the formatting to show its agency rather than writing about it from a critical position above or outside of this phenomenon.
A guiding principle for this symposium has been to ask all the contributors to consider and engage with the medium of dissemination and to consider ways to “speak truth to materials”, a sentiment expressed by Guggenheim (2011) who argues that “much STS continues to work with writing as a single medium ... with regard to the media and translation techniques that scholars use .. to document and display what they have found out, the sociology of translation, as sociology in general is an impoverished science” (p.66). The papers collected here are arguably representations of this impoverishment, however the symposium enables different enactments. We therefore stay true to the original meaning of the word "symposium" from the Greek συμπόσιον coming together to talk, think and drink. What follows is a plan which, as Suchman (1987) powerfully reminds us, is not the way situated actions will be. However we hope it will help those seeking to navigate the conference, though wayfaring may take over once engaged in the symposium.
Material Organisation: Distribution of Phenylthiourea (PTC), Sodium Benzoate and Thiourea testing strips, Socrative PRS and webinar setup and introducing live data displays.
Full Paper PDF
Full Paper PDF
Quick Q&A engagement with live data from these sessions
Long Paper Abstracts
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Xploring txtuality & txtually transmitd dis-Ez - Ailsa Haxell (in room) - a performance of texting language
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