5° Coloquio Internacional de Ciencias Cognitivas

Dr. Radamés Villagómez-Reséndiz


Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UNAM

Título de ponencia:


"From anthropology of things to anthropology of technology: is there a place for coproduction of techniques?"

Resumen de ponencia:

In recent times, anthropology of things seems to be renewed by a focus on material world from ontological turn, although this perspective carries on an effort to shed new light on object´s study, we think that recursive ethnography neglects the importance of technical action. Consequently, anthropology of technology has not received sufficient attention, resulting in a lack of renewal understanding of technological phenomena within ethnographical contexts. The aim of the present paper seeks to show how ontological turn affects the relation between technical action and cognitive processes. Therefore, it is necessary to advance a discussion in contemporary anthropology of technology, which emphasizes how technologies in ethnographical contexts are embodied in practices reflecting shared cognitive processes. Departing from recursive ethnography, we discuss whether internal relations and horizontal abstractions help to promote coproduction of techniques. Regarding anthropology of technology, which concerns directly with action over matter and materials, was developed partially through its own intellectual genealogy, nevertheless it also heirs the same modernist bias related to mind and matter. Therefore, it rest to figure out how ontological turn or recursive ethnography affects the tenets of anthropology of technology in relation to this alleged bias. Whilst ontological turn questioned several versions of representation-based accounts bringing forward renewal approaches on object’s study, technological phenomenon has not received sufficient attention, resulting in a lack of renewal understanding of technical action within ethnographical contexts. Consequently, since technology concerns with action and if action involves cognitive issues, therefore, technological analysis demands a cognitive proposal. In order to establish this connection, we first present some of the most representative efforts that eventually molded ontological turn as a treatment on objects, also associated with coproduction of knowledge. Later, we expose the partially independent development of anthropology of technology, including their most significant nuances, showing that although in some respects it converges partially with some tenets of ontological turn, their total implications have been neglected. In that sense, if we take seriously that ontological turn promotes coproduction of knowledge through intensifying anthropological concerns such as relations and abstraction, then we have to explain how technologies embodied in practices reflecting shared cognitive processes between technical expertise, social constraints and anthropological practice. Thus, we argue that cognition reliance on materials enlightens novel ways for anthropologists to grapple with practices of coproduction of techniques. Several efforts stand out in anthropology to overcome the idea that culture is encoded in the head of people as well as the notion of symbolical meaning embedded in social structures (Lave 1998). In the same way, anthropology of technology are forced to offer relational analysis beyond function and design, which have being possible through a theory of practice closer to formulations on cognitive phenomena making use of ecological and phenomenological insights (Bateson 1972, Gibson 1979). Currently, there are at least three contemporary proposals coping with technological phenomenon from a relational anthropology: the skillful practice-based account of Tim Ingold (2018), the Material Engagement Theory of Lambros Malafouris and Collin Renfrew and the abduction of agency of Alfred Gell (1998). We discuss some insights of these proposals to account for a recombinant anthropology of technology that helps to revampire artifactual production in order to establish in what senses we can talk of coproduction of techniques in anthropological research.


Doctor en Estudios Mesoamericanos (Antropología), UNAM, y Maestro en Filosofía de la Ciencia, UNAM. Ha realizado estancias de investigación en la UFSC, Brasil, en SADAF, Argentina y en FLACSO, Ecuador. Ha realizado trabajo etnográfico en los Altos de Morelos, México, con poblaciones Nahuas y en Cayambe, Ecuador, con comunidades Kichwas. Sus temas abarcan la Antropología y Filosofía de la Tecnología, la Teoría antropológica, así como algunas áreas de la Antropología Ecológica como la Evolución Cultural, la Ecología Política y la Filosofía de la Etnobiología. En particular, sus intereses apuntan a la relación entre tecnología y cognición, la interfase teórico-metodológica entre biología y antropología, así como la caracterización de conocimientos locales como formas emergentes de vida y conocimiento.