9507 - What't the Matter?: Following the multiple entanglements of lithium production in Bolivia

To rethink intentionality means to rethink the issue of agency-the capacity to act. Conventionally conceived as a quality unique to human beings, and tied to a particular conception of agency, a traditional focus on intentionality created an asymmetry between the world and the word. Having created a gap between an internal and an external world (subject-object), the predominant intermediary became the representation, acting as a fragile bridge between the two. The issue of representation as an adequate intermediary between word and world has been critiqued from the vantage point of various academic perspectives, the result being a general "crisis of representation." This crisis stems from the inadequacy of representations as static depictions of an external world. But if we view these representations as more than simple depictions of an external reality, and more as enactments of realities always in conjunction with other agencies, we move the problem to the terrian of what Annemarie Mol calls ontological politics. Moving in this direction entails making room for other actors and agenc ies that contribute to the constitution of a variety of overlapping, conflicting, or contentious ontologies. Rethinking agency is more than a mere extension of intentionality to that beyond the human. Rather, it entails viewing the production of consequences (and reality making) as the combination of multiple agencies, irreducible to one another, that can never act in isolation from one another. This paper introduces some insights from Science and Technology Studies on the question of agency, with which we can move away from some of the core problems of intentionality. Using the case of lithium in Bolivia, this paper follows the multiple agencies (human and non-human) at work combining to elude lithium's control as a mere technical, political, or economic object.

Keywords: tecnologia, politica, ontologia, ciencia, agencia, intencionalidad

Author: Freiburger, Nathaniel (University of California, Davis, Ud States of Am / USA)


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