Workshop : The care of the habitat

Care of the habitat. Between infrastructure maintenance and attention to living beings

Location : CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague
Date : October, 19th-20th
Language : english

Organized by  :


Scientific Committee :

Chloé Mondémé (TRIANGLE)
Petr Gibas (Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)
Mateusz Chmurski (CEFRES)

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the humanities and social sciences for studies that do not focus solely on humans. The concepts of “non-human”, “more than human”, “multi-species ethnography” or “post-anthropocentrism” have been proposed to provide a collective watchword for a new kind of field investigations and theoretical productions. The symposium “Caring for the habitat, between the maintenance of infrastructures and the attention to living beings’’ is in line with these ideas, which are fruitful for collective work. However, we must be careful not to lose, through the extension of concepts, the specificity of the objects and methods of investigation. This is why we propose to specify our object in two joint ways. Firstly, the subject will be anchored in a focus on care practices for the habitat. Second, we will focus on two types of non-human beings: technical infrastructures and living beings. The care of the habitat cannot be considered as a strictly an solely human activity. To live in a place (a house, a city, a region, etc.) is to engage in practices in which plants, materials, buildings, mushrooms, road signs, domesticated animals, energy-providing facilities, chemicals, etc. are entangled in an indefinite list. To care for all these beings is both to be able to read the signals they send and to identify their fragilities, and to engage with them in practices of mutual modification.

This question can lead to three types of interrogations of importance for the humanities and social sciences. (i) Can we describe the entanglements that care practices draw between technical infrastructures, living beings and humans in a way that escapes anthropocentric bias? (ii) Under what conditions can we compare care for technical infrastructures and care for living beings in a fruitful way without losing the specificity of the objects? (iii) Can we identify transfers of care practices from the human, animal and technical domains? This list of questions is obviously open-ended, and will grow as the discussion proceeds.

(Photo Credits: Augustin Frandon)