Call for papers for MEGA seminar panel

Please consider submitting an abstract to our panel at the MEGA seminar – deadline extended to 15th May!

Find more information about the MEGA seminar “TIME TO CHOOSE!” here and about the panels here. The seminar takes place on Sandbjerg Gods 12-14 August 2019

10. Distributing choice: when care explodes the liberal chooser

Convenors: Andreas Birkbak AAU, Katy Overstreet AU, and Astrid Oberborbeck Andersen AAU

According to Annemarie Mol and colleagues (Mol 2008; Mol, Moser & Pols 2010), the liberal ‘logic of choice’ that pervades contemporary Euro-American societies can be contrasted with a ‘logic of care’ that rests on the situated tinkering of care work. Care does not fit in a world of ‘free’ consumer choice, because care is characterized by distributed agency and a loss of control. In the case of health care, for example, care tends to rely on a fragile coordination of care workers, patients, technologies, words, and embodied knowledge where outcomes are unpredictable and negotiated.

In this panel, we ask what happens to choice and decision-making when examined in relation to a logic of care. In Euro-American contexts, the notion of care draws attention to the fragility and artificiality of moments of choice that imagine individual actors in politics (Latour 2003), in healthcare (Mol 2002, 2008), in agriculture (Mol, Moser and Pols 2010), and in other areas of life. Care makes visible the situated nature of agency and the ability to choose in light of the ways that technologies and other nonhumans shape encounters. Finally, the notion of care raises the question of how to act morally in a world where there are no universal principles available to supportdecision-making. Each situation is different and moral action is relative, according to the logic of care. Assigning value to something becomes intimately connected to the practical activities of valuing (Heuts and Mol 2013): knowing something has value is tied to the ‘doing’ of it as valuable, of caring for it. Care, then, roots choice in a situated and relational frame where value emerges through networks of co-production (Jasanoff 2004).

When actions are not driven by liberal choice, how do agency and decision-making need to be re- evaluated? Where and how are choice and care in tension or alignment? What happens to responsibility once the logic of care has distributed agencies and drawn our attention to the situated and vulnerable nature of choosing? How do modes of care impact anthropological practice and moral action? How do carers manage the fragilities of care work? And what other ‘care-like’ notions exist that question powerful discourses of choice? We invite papers that address these and related questions theoretically and empirically across diverse fields including but not limited to healthcare, agriculture and environments, media technologies, and infrastructure.

Send paper abstracts to Astrid Oberborbeck Andersen