Lateral Concepts

Christopher Gad, Casper Bruun Jensen

Abstract


This essay discusses the complex relation between the knowledges and practices of the researcher and his/her informants in terms of lateral concepts. The starting point is that it is not the prerogative of the (STS) scholar to conceptualize the world; all our “informants” do it too. This creates the possibility of enriching our own conceptual repertoires by letting them be inflected by the concepts of those we study. In a broad sense, the lateral means that there is a many-to-many relation between domains of knowledge and practice. However, each specific case of the lateral is necessarily immanent to a particular empirical setting and form of inquiry. In this sense lateral concepts are radically empirical since it locates concepts within the field. To clarify the meaning and stakes of lateral concepts, we first make a contrast between lateral anthropology and Latour’s notion of infra-reflexivity. We end with a brief illustration and discussion of how lateral conceptualization can re-orient STS modes of inquiry, and why this matters. 


Keywords


infra-reflexivity; inter-reflexivity; lateral anthropology; lateral concepts

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17351/ests2016.77



Copyright (c) 2016 Christopher Gad, Casper Bruun Jensen

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