Marking Time: On the Anthropology of the Contemporary

Marking Time: On the Anthropology of the Contemporary

by Paul Rabinow

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In Marking Time, Paul Rabinow presents his most recent reflections on the anthropology of the contemporary. Drawing richly on the work of Michel Foucault, John Dewey, Niklas Luhmann, and, most interestingly, German painter Gerhard Richter, Rabinow offers a set of conceptual tools for scholars examining cutting-edge practices in the life sciences, security, new media and art practices, and other emergent phenomena. Taking up topics that include bioethics, anger and competition among molecular biologists, the lessons of the Drosophila genome, the nature of ethnographic observation in radically new settings, and the moral landscape shared by scientists and anthropologists, Rabinow shows how anthropology remains relevant to contemporary debates. By turning abstract philosophical problems into real-world explorations and offering original insights, Marking Time is a landmark contribution to the continuing re-invention of anthropology and the human sciences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400827992
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 02/09/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 168
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Paul Rabinow is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author, most recently, of A Machine to Make a Future: Biotech Chronicles (Princeton).

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Acknowledgments xiii
On the Anthropology of the Contemporary 1
Inquiry 6
Elements 7
The Legitimacy of the Contemporary 2000: Drosophila Lessons 14
The Future of Human Nature 20
Bio-ethics: The Question Concerning Humanism 22
Nature 25
Security, Danger, Risk 26
Contemporary Formations 28
Conclusion 29
Timing 35
Situating: Tolerance and Benevolence 36
Telos: A Zone of Discomfort 44
Untimely Work 48
Bildung 54
Observing the Future 57
Responsibility to Ignorance 60
Observing Observers Observing 62
Observing First-order Observers 64
Chronicling Observation 66
Original History 67
Writing Things: Deictic Not Epideictic 69
Vehement Contemporaries
Rugged Terrain 78
Elements of a Contemporary Moral Landscape 80
Genomics as Ethical Terrain 81
Agon in the Genomic Terrain 84
Thumós: Appropriate Anger 90
Vehement Contemporaries 98
Marking Time: Gerhard Richter
Contemporary Modern 101
Biotechnical Forms 103
Richter: Double Negations 106
Art Critics and Others 106
Our Contemporary 108
Nature 109
Photography 112
Marking Time 116
Abstract Images 119
Remediation 122
Objects 124
Remedation 127
Notes 129
Bibliography 141
Index 147

What People are Saying About This

George Marcus

Marking Time is a gem of insight and a journey of learning. These essays offer an intellectual adventure to be enjoyed by a broad range of readers.
George Marcus, University of California, Irvine

John Borneman

Paul Rabinow offers us a sustained piece of thought on the meaning of the contemporary for anthropology, with the goal of discovering 'new problems and new truths that open up points of view and new sciences.' Boldly eschewing use of the 'ethnographic record' to address major philosophical questions, Rabinow instead detours through ancient Greece, Rome in late antiquity, his own research with various genome mapping projects, and a dialogue with many German philosophers, to arrive at concepts that help us write in a mediated mode, where one's insights come from finding modes of observing in close proximity that are appropriate to the objects and events to be explained.
John Borneman, Princeton University

From the Publisher

"Marking Time is a gem of insight and a journey of learning. These essays offer an intellectual adventure to be enjoyed by a broad range of readers."—George Marcus, University of California, Irvine

Nikolas Rose

Paul Rabinow has proved again that he is one of our most incisive commentators on the vital question of our time-what it means to be human today. The reflections gathered in this book engage with the question from a remarkable array of starting points-from speculative philosophical histories through the artisanship of painting to the creative labor that sequenced the genome of the fruit fly. In the process, he delineates a methodology for the anthropology of the contemporary that is productive and provocative in equal measure.
Nikolas Rose, London School of Economics and Political Science

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