May 26-27 2019, Carasso Science Park, Beer-Sheva
Researchers at the Science Center recently participated in the 47th Conference of the Israeli Anthropological Society that took place on May 26-27, 2019 at the Carasso Science Park in Be’er Sheva. The focus of the conference was “Anthropology and Technology” and the main speaker was Dr. Daniel Knight, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology and Director of the Centre for Cosmopolitan Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
The conference brought together researchers who are dealing with technology in its broadest sense: production, distribution and consumption of production tools and techniques; craftsmanship; ethnographic studies of workshops, sheds, garages and factories; materiality, technology and cultural consumption; production and consumption of clothing and fashion; datafication of health; technologies for empowerment and improvement of the body; social networks; data mining and algorithms; financial technologies; energy research and anthropology; climate change and culture; environmental sustainability; temporality and technology and a range of other anthropological pursuits.
Technology and material culture have always received anthropological attention, but since these fields were generally limited to ethnographic museums, social anthropology has not developed a clear conceptualization of the relationship between culture and technology. The emerging interest in the anthropology of technology is based on scientific and technological developments and on the material turning point in social theory. The datafication of social life, the emerging of new financial instruments and the effects of climate change on traditional material culture are just a few examples of research investigating changing existential conditions in the wake of the impact new technologies are having on social life.
The anthropological perspective enables us to follow the developmental paths of the various technologies (environmental, biomedical or industrial) and the context of their formation. Current anthropology goes beyond the deterministic discussion of the material dimensions of production, and discusses the agency of people and objects and the reciprocal relations between them. Critical anthropology also requires awareness of the ways in which technological processes and their by-products shape society. It must raise important questions about how individuals, organizations, and nation-states adapt to new technologies and the materials they produce. [Adapted from the conference program].
One of the presenters at the conference was Dr. Joshua Schmidt, whose research pertains to continuity and change in ancient and present Negev desert viticulture. Presented through images taken by the author during fieldwork, Schmidt’s “Terroir and the Mechanics of Past and Present-day Negev Desert Viticulture” may be downloaded here.Terroir in the Negev