This panel aims to provide ethnographic and anthropological substance to the political philosophy of 'publicisation': to investigate some of the forms that society is taking today in its redistribution as public knowledge.
Knowledge is currently undergoing some remarkable institutional relocations. Universities are reorganising themselves into interdisciplinary schools, and are signing collaborative knowledge-transfer agreements with industry. Industry, in its turn, is increasingly involved in redefining its stakes in/against nature and society. An example are bio-prospecting projects, where pharmaceutical companies are coming up with new conceptions of what makes the public domain, and are relocating the market within this. The public itself is evanescing into new political objects, as in economists' parlance of global public goods, where the social form of the market now contains its own (potential for) externalities. We seem to have entered, therefore, a new political era, where those with stakes in knowledge have the power to say what society is all about (hence the label knowledge society), and where the appearance of knowledge as a social object becomes the defining criteria of a new political philosophy: the politics of publicisation (Hayden), or what Latour calls Dingpolitik, the move to making things public. <br/>This panel aims to give ethnographic and anthropological substance to the political philosophy of publicisation. We hope to elucidate the ethnographic forms that the new public forums (Helga Nowotny et al. call them 'agora') are taking in our anthropological contemporary. Society's political reinvention in an array of public objects is modelled on, and casting off, new claimants and claims over the social contract: ethics, governance, trust and knowledge are but some of the categories of association that are being redeployed in the claim to make society more robust. Our aim in this panel, then, is to investigate some of the forms that society is taking today in its redistribution as public knowledge.