A topological approach to cultural dynamics

A Topological Approach to Cultural Dynamics‘ is a research network funded by EU and coordinated by Celia Lury, from Goldsmiths College.

They are organising a conference in Barcelona next December. For those interested here you have some information about the event.

CHANGING CULTURES: CULTURES OF CHANGE

10-12 December 2009

University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Across disciplines, intensive or topological approaches to the study of culture trea

t change as normal and immanent rather than exceptional and externally determined. Culture is understood in terms of possibility and topological approaches provide a set of tools to think about engaging different kinds of change – learning, transmission, innovation, adaptation, self-organisation and evolution. This conference asks: what is the potential of topological and other intensive approaches for thinking about change? It explores the value of thinking about culture as a privileged site or mechanism for change, but it also asks h

ow and why the question of change is being posed in relation to culture today. This question is especially important at a time when calculation and

complex technical systems have become ubiquitous elements in human life, in specialised sites of scientific enquiry and in everyday life. In contemporary society, numbers do not just describe but they construct and – in topological thinking – take on virtual properties, building abstract spaces of calculation and opening up the possibility of new perspectives on the questions of cultural predictability and innovation.

What are the tools, techniques and artifacts of thinking topologically about cultural change? What spaces do they make? How can the current development of material culture of topological thinking be taken into account, reflexively, as a research topic? What are the cultural implications of the growth of technical systems, quantitative calculation and ideas and procedures concerned with number, counting, and logic, the increase in lists and registers, and the rise of logistics, of innovations in thinking about linkages and technologies of address, and the combination and organisation of these operations into systems in everyday life? What kinds of engagement are adequate to the task of thinking and acting in response?

Finally, the conference will also address issues of method, and in particular examine the current interest in the use of quantitative methods to investigate and understand qualitative change. Can anything – or everything – be measured in numbers? What role do modeling, simulation and experimentation have in the study of culture? How can we understand cultures of qualification? What are the implications of studying culture for the uses and meanings of numbers?

Besides this, the conference will hold a public lecture by Peter Sloterdijk and will have other plenary speakers like:

Rosi Braidotti, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

J. Doyne Farmer, Santa Fe Institute, USA

Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Alex Galloway, New York University, USA

Penny Harvey, University of Manchester, UK

Dirk Helbing, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Scott Lash, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Richard Rogers, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Brian Rotman, Ohio University

Luc Steels, SONY-France, France

Eyal Weizmann, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

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