Early in his career, Bruno Latour’s limited readership consisted mainly of the research community in science and technology studies (STS) that he helped to inaugurate. Today the situation could hardly be more different. Latour is now subject to the “translations”—the processes by which ideas travel—that he has provided such powerful tools for analyzing. He has become a “mutable mobile”—eminently transportable but always changing as he goes—that in different contexts exists as a variety of conceptual characters or figurations. As the Latour network continues to see significant extensions and transformations, it offers an instructive case for understanding the potentials and dynamics of traveling texts and ideas—and of their relation to existing disciplinary formations—as ecologies of knowledge change. This article examines the reception and adaptation of Latour’s ideas in two quite different intellectual contexts: anthropology and literary studies. The proliferation of Latour figurations is shown to be a consequence of interactions between, on the one hand, existing disciplinary constellations of ideas, concerns, and practices, and, on the other hand, his own often ambiguous arguments on topics including theory and method, nonhuman agency and politics, and technical mediation.
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Casper Bruun Jensen; Disciplinary Translations: Latour in Literary Studies and Anthropology. Common Knowledge 1 April 2020; 26 (2): 230–250. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-8188844
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