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See detailLa réflexivité : de la vertu épistémologique aux versions mises en rapports, en passant par les incidents diplomatiques
Thoreau, François ULg; Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances (in press)

Dans cet article, nous proposons la mise en œuvre d’un dispositif d’enquête que nous qualifions de « diplomatique ». L’objet de cette enquête est la question de la réflexivité des scientifiques. Tout au ... [more ▼]

Dans cet article, nous proposons la mise en œuvre d’un dispositif d’enquête que nous qualifions de « diplomatique ». L’objet de cette enquête est la question de la réflexivité des scientifiques. Tout au long de l’article, nous explorons avec les scientifiques que nous avons rencontré différents modes sur lesquels peut se décliner cette « réflexivité ». Toutefois, chacun de ces modes nous invite à considérer plusieurs manières de partager ce problème et de le construire avec eux. Chemin faisant, il n’y a donc pas que la question de la réflexivité qui bifurque, mais également le sens même de l’approche diplomatique à laquelle nous nous étions assignés. C’est à cette exploration conjointe des significations de la réflexivité des scientifiques et des modalités de la diplomatie que nous convions le lecteur. [less ▲]

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See detailResponding Bodies and Partial Affinities in Human–Animal Worlds
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Theory, Culture & Society (2013), 30(7/8), 66-91

The aim of this paper is to explore the different manners in which scientists’ bodies are actively engaged when interacting with the animals they observe in the field. Bodies are multiple, as are the ... [more ▼]

The aim of this paper is to explore the different manners in which scientists’ bodies are actively engaged when interacting with the animals they observe in the field. Bodies are multiple, as are the practices that involve them: sharing the same diet, feeling similar affects, acting the same, inhabiting the same world of perceptions, constructing empathic affinities, etc.
Some scientists aim to embody the animals’ experiences. Some are willing to empathetically experience situations “from inside”, while others “undo and redo” their own bodies in order to interact more closely with the animals and to respond to them more cautiously. Still others are faced with the question: what can we do or what are we allowed to do with our bodies when we are with our animals?
All of these practices present a very different version of “embodied empathy”, a concept which describes feeling/seeing/thinking bodies that undo and redo each other, reciprocally though not symmetrically, as partial perspectives that attune themselves to each other. Therefore, empathy is not experiencing with one’s own body what the other experiences, but rather creating the possibilities of an embodied communication. [less ▲]

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See detailFROM SECRET AGENTS TO INTERAGENCY
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in History and theory (2013), 52

Some scientists who study animals have emphasized the need to focus on the “point of view” of the animals they are studying. This methodological shift has led to animals being credited with much more ... [more ▼]

Some scientists who study animals have emphasized the need to focus on the “point of view” of the animals they are studying. This methodological shift has led to animals being credited with much more agency than is warranted. However, as critics suggest, on the one hand, the “perspective” of another being rests mostly upon “sympathetic projection,” and may be difficult to apply to unfamiliar beings, such as bees or even flowers. On the other hand, the very notion of agency still conveys its classic understanding as intentional, rational, and premeditated, and is still embedded in humanist and Christian conceptions of human exceptionalism. This paper seeks, in the first part, to investigate the practical link between these two notions and the problems they raise. In the second part, following the work of two historians of science who have revisited Darwin’s studies of orchids and their pollinators, it will observe a shift in the meaning of the concept of agency. Indeed, creatures may appear as “secret agents” as long as we adopt a conventional definition of agency based on subjective experience and autonomous intention. However, when reframed in the terms of “agencement”—an assemblage that produces “agentivity”— agency seems to be much more extensively shared in the living world. We will then explore some of the concrete situations in which these agencements are manifested, and through which creatures of different species become, one for another and one with another, companion-agents. [less ▲]

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See detailQue diraient les animaux si...
Despret, Vinciane ULg

Conference given outside the academic context (2013)

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See detailPenser par le milieu, cultiver l'équivocation
Despret, Vinciane ULg

Conference (2012, September 17)

« Gorgias, écrivait Barbara Cassin, montre comment le Poème de Parménide, loin de partir, comme il le prétend, d'un “il y a” de être (esti : es gibt Sein, dit Heidegger), fabrique bien plutôt l'être en le ... [more ▼]

« Gorgias, écrivait Barbara Cassin, montre comment le Poème de Parménide, loin de partir, comme il le prétend, d'un “il y a” de être (esti : es gibt Sein, dit Heidegger), fabrique bien plutôt l'être en le disant, le fait être ; on ne va pas de l'être au dire de l'être, en toute fidélité et adéquation, mais, à l'inverse, l'être est un effet de dire, un produit du poème, la conséquence d'une performance discursive. C'est de là que je suis repartie. » Au cœur de sa réflexion sur la performativité du langage se déploie, chez Cassin, la question de l’efficace créatif de la traduction. Cette question peut être mise en rapport avec la notion développée par l’anthropologue Eduardo Viveiros de Castro sous le terme d’« équivocation ». Traduire, dit-il, c’est présumer qu’une équivocation existe toujours ; c’est communiquer par différences, différences dans sa langue — sous le même terme, quantité de choses peuvent revendiquer répondre de ce terme—, différences dans la langue de l’autre, et différences dans l’opération même de traduction— car les deux équivocités ne sont pas superposables. C’est ce qui conduit Viveiros de Castro à dire que « la comparaison est au service de la traduction », et non l’inverse. On ne traduit pas pour comparer, on compare à la seule fin de réussir à traduire. Et on compare des différences, des équivoques, des homonymes. L’équivocation est, en ce sens, le déploiement des versions. Dans une traduction, explique Cassin, non seulement chaque terme et chaque opération syntaxique de la langue source peuvent recevoir plusieurs sens, mais ils vont être traduits, dans la langue d’arrivée par des termes et des opérateurs syntaxiques qui, eux-mêmes, peuvent en avoir plusieurs. La version cultive ces divergences et ces bifurcations, de manière contrôlée— mais comme on dit que marcher est une manière contrôlée de tomber. Cette pratique de l’équivocation comme volonté de maintien de la contradiction est à l’œuvre dans les travaux les plus divers de la philosophe. Je m’attacherai plus particulièrement à la partie plus littéraire de ceux-ci. Au départ de la nouvelle « Les mots de tous les jours et l’orchidée de la nuit », que je mettrai en rapport avec une analyse de la thématique de la transmission, de l’identité et du deuil proposée par le psychanalyste Jean Allouch, je souhaiterais dégager les effets pragmatiques et féconds d’une traduction assumant et cultivant la possibilité de faire tenir des traductions divergentes et contradictoires d’un même énoncé. [less ▲]

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See detailScaphandre La science rencontre l'art: L'art
Haubruge, Eric ULg; Bay, Daniel ULg; Semal, Jean et al

in Haubruge, Eric; Bay, Daniel; Semal, Jean (Eds.) Scaphandre La science rencontre l'art (2012)

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See detailDe l'autre côté du miroir
Cormann, Grégory ULg; Despret, Vinciane ULg; Nurock, Vanessa et al

Article for general public (2010)

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See detailCorps et âme. Passionnément.
Strivay, Lucienne ULg; Despret, Vinciane ULg

in SociologieS (2010)

Abstract : Body and soul. Passionately. The idea of emotions belonging to the bodily sphere as constituting a universal and stable fact should have fallen by the way a long time ago, but prejudices are ... [more ▼]

Abstract : Body and soul. Passionately. The idea of emotions belonging to the bodily sphere as constituting a universal and stable fact should have fallen by the way a long time ago, but prejudices are stubborn. In spite of cultural diversity, the body is generally presented as nature in its universal essence. Different disciplines and schools of thought divided up the territory, each thus preserving its autonomy. Bodily matters and significations seemed thus condemned to divergence, each one positioned with regards to what the authors call “the seam” (la couture). Using competing theories, shifts from the seam are examined in order to arrive at the analysis of a critical point, there where “infiltrations” appear, that is infiltrations which will crack the seam and so provide a privileged analytical moment for the socio-anthropology of knowledge. We arrive then at a redistribution between what is interior and what is exterior, leading in turn to a redefinition of the body, the psyche and incarnated sensibility. The case of “wild children” is also examined. After consulting the classic ethnographic literature which deals with them, the analysis culminates with the inescapable importance of language for conceptualising the accession to humanity.. [less ▲]

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See detailRencontrer, avec Donna Haraway un animal
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Critique (2009), 747-748(8-9), 747-759

When Species Meet, de Donna Haraway, est un livre qui se veut fidèle à ce qu’il nous propose, à ce qu’il nous demande, à ce qu’il instruit dans la pluralité des significations qu’on peut donner à ce terme ... [more ▼]

When Species Meet, de Donna Haraway, est un livre qui se veut fidèle à ce qu’il nous propose, à ce qu’il nous demande, à ce qu’il instruit dans la pluralité des significations qu’on peut donner à ce terme : penser, faire exister, agir, et faire agir ce dont il parle, les rencontres entre espèces. Il n’y a rien d’innocent non plus dans cette relation entre espèces qui brouille les catégories ; il faut y voir la chance de « devenir ensemble », « avec quelque grâce ». [less ▲]

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See detailCulture and Gender do not Dissolve into how Scientists “read” Nature: Thelma Rowell’s Heterodoxy
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Oren Harman (Ed.) Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology (2009)

From her very first descriptions of the baboons (in the sixties), Thelma Rowell’s observations contrasted sharply with those of her colleagues (mostly males) working with similar animals. Numerous ... [more ▼]

From her very first descriptions of the baboons (in the sixties), Thelma Rowell’s observations contrasted sharply with those of her colleagues (mostly males) working with similar animals. Numerous observers among primatologists and science studies scholars have suggested that women observed differently. For some, womens’ patience makes them ideal observers. Rowell insisted that her challenging ideas about dominance relationships in primates were a result of her having been trained always to question authority. Roswell’s distinction lay in doing the same sorts of things others scientists were doing but for far longer, which enabled her to see more and different results. [less ▲]

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See detailEtre ou ne pas être spectre
Despret, Vinciane ULg

Article for general public (2008)

Les indices abondent, notre relation aux défunts est peut-être en train de changer et ce que les psychothérapeutes nous disent qu’il faut entendre sous la notion de deuil pourrait bien devoir subir ... [more ▼]

Les indices abondent, notre relation aux défunts est peut-être en train de changer et ce que les psychothérapeutes nous disent qu’il faut entendre sous la notion de deuil pourrait bien devoir subir quelques aménagements. [less ▲]

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See detailTHE BECOMINGS OF SUBJECTIVITY IN ANIMAL WORLDS
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Subjectivity (2008), 23

When philosophers deal with the issue of the difference between human and animal beings, there is always a double ‘‘we’’ that imposes itself: ‘‘we’’ know that ‘‘we’’ are different. In order to resist ... [more ▼]

When philosophers deal with the issue of the difference between human and animal beings, there is always a double ‘‘we’’ that imposes itself: ‘‘we’’ know that ‘‘we’’ are different. In order to resist these ‘‘we’s’’ the author has explored certain situations in which human and animals work together, and more extensively the everyday practices of cow and pig breeders. Interviewing the breeders, however, highlights an important issue: might the question of ‘‘the’’ difference, as philosophers have outlined it, be of interest to those who work with animals? Letting them construct ‘‘their’’ questions, we learn that these practices are best described in terms of achievement. Therefore, the questions that breeders think should be addressed are not the differences between human and non-human beings but rather the differences between situations, which offer both humans and animals different opportunities to accomplish subjectivities. [less ▲]

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See detailFaire de James un lecteur anachronique de Von Uexküll : esquisse d’un perspectivisme radical
Despret, Vinciane ULg; Galetic, Stéphan ULg

in Debaise, Didier (Ed.) Vie et expérimentations. Peirce, James, Dewey. (2007)

Faire de James un lecteur anachronique de Von Uexküll, prolonger les ressources de sa pratique en contournant l’alternative subjectivisme-objectivisme : c'est ce que nous avons désigné comme le possible d ... [more ▼]

Faire de James un lecteur anachronique de Von Uexküll, prolonger les ressources de sa pratique en contournant l’alternative subjectivisme-objectivisme : c'est ce que nous avons désigné comme le possible d'un perspectivisme radical. Le perspectivisme radical, au départ, se définit comme un pari : il doit traduire la possibilité d’un monde commun sans qu’il soit nécessaire de recourir ni à un monde objectif, ni à un principe transcendant. Il doit en même temps résister au choix comminatoire entre un monde qui existe « par nous » et un monde qui existe « malgré nous ». Le perspectivisme radical nous propose un monde « avec nous ».Le monde commun se constitue à la fois dans le partage et dans la multiplication des intérêts, pas à pas, ou plutôt, devrions-nous dire, action par action. [less ▲]

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See detailSheep do have opinions
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Latour Bruno, Weibel Peter (Ed.) Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy (2006)

For the past few years the inhabitants of a hamlet on the outskirts of the village of Ingleton in Yorkshire, England, have been witnessing a strange exercise every morning. A woman, said to have been one ... [more ▼]

For the past few years the inhabitants of a hamlet on the outskirts of the village of Ingleton in Yorkshire, England, have been witnessing a strange exercise every morning. A woman, said to have been one of the most renowned primatologists in the English-speaking world, spends her day in a field in front of her house, observing animals that she has put there. As she did during her many years of field work in Africa studying apes, primatologist Thelma Rowell patiently notes all the movements, anecdotes and tiny events making up the daily social life of the animals to which she is currently devoting her time. Admittedly, these animals are different to the ones she was used to spending time with: the relations are not characterized by the same intensity, the behaviors are peculiar to the species, the communication does not always pass by the same channels, and the events seem to take place at another pace. But as far as their social expertise is concerned, these animals are certainly on a par with apes. [less ▲]

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See detailCombined reconstruction of the diabetic foot including revascularization and free-tissue transfer
Verhelle, N. A.; Despret, Vinciane ULg; Nelissen, Xavier ULg et al

in Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery (2004), 20(7), 511-517

Diabetic patients, presenting with both peripheral vascular disease and large soft-tissue defects, are too often treated by primary amputation. A combined revascularization and free-tissue transfer ... [more ▼]

Diabetic patients, presenting with both peripheral vascular disease and large soft-tissue defects, are too often treated by primary amputation. A combined revascularization and free-tissue transfer procedure can extend limb salvage in these patients. The authors report their experience over 4 years with 19 diabetic patients with peripheral vascular disease and large soft-tissue defects of the foot requiring free-tissue transfer. Although there was a 100 percent flap survival, early local wound problems occurred in three patients (16.6 percent). The recurrence rate was about 18.7 percent, but no complementary flap procedures were mandatory. With a mean follow-up of 38 months (range: 23 to 55 months), the limb salvage rate was 94.4 percent. Although there was one limb loss and one patient with ambulation difficulties, 16 patients (84.2 percent) were fully rehabilitated and were able to function independently. Despite a rather small series, this study confirms that in selected diabetic patients, a combined approach of vascular and reconstructive surgeons can reduce the limb amputation rate with acceptable complication rates. This combined approach offers major benefits to these patients, especially stable coverage and preservation of ambulation, and should always be considered before amputation. [less ▲]

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See detailThe body we care for. Figures of anthropo-zoo-genesis
Despret, Vinciane ULg

in Body & society (2004), 10(2/3), 111-134

Clever Hans, the famous horse who was believed to be able to count, is generally cited as the paradigm of the influence of the observer. Psychologist Rosenthal has illustrated this phenomenon with his ... [more ▼]

Clever Hans, the famous horse who was believed to be able to count, is generally cited as the paradigm of the influence of the observer. Psychologist Rosenthal has illustrated this phenomenon with his well-known experiment about ‘bright’ and ‘dull’ maze rats. Hans, however, achieved something much more interesting. Hecould not only read human minds through their bodies: he could also influence his questioners to produce gestures he could read as cues for finding the answer. Hans could make human bodies be moved and be affected, and move and affect other beings and perform things without their owners’ knowledge. The question of ‘influence’ when we read this case becomes therefore far more complicated and interesting. It involves the question of the way bodies can attune, affect and transformeach other. We may follow carefully how scientists of ethological practices create access to the creatures they study, how they are moved by their subjects of interest, and how they give them a chance to be interesting andto articulate other responses. Doing so, we notice that the signs that define subject and object, what talks and what is talked about, subjectivity and objectivity, are redistributed in a new manner. These practices offer a new and pragmatic definition of the body, close to James’s theory of emotions: to have a body is to learn how to feel. [less ▲]

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