Urbanism as concept-generating assemblage
There have been humans of several species for millions of years, but through most of that time they exist beyond the reach of history. We can tell some of the places where they were, because their fires baked the ground beneath them into low-grade ceramics, so we know something about their habits, but nothing about individual lives. There was a change 10,000 years ago, when we find he first traces of agriculture and evidence of permanent settlements. At first this could have involved very few people, and everyone else—like everyone before them—remained nomadic. Nowadays—a relatively short time later—most of us live in permanent dwellings, and most of us in cities.
The key thing that happens with the growth of settlements, is that it becomes possible for the inhabitants to take on roles and identities that can become highly specialized. If I grow up in a small agricultural community then I know how to produce my own food, and can do well enough most of the things that are done in the village. If the settlement is larger then specialisms start to appear: someone is good at building, or making pottery, and they can do this in exchange for food, rather than directly producing the food themselves. Nowadays we still need food, but most of us have no idea how to produce it—we just buy it—but there are also people (including ourselves) who have skills that require the support of complex networks that are urban in character. Think of all the things that have to be in place before even one person can have an income as a television presenter or a DJ, or to have a successful cafe or nail bar, or a school of architecture.
The urban environment makes it possible to do new things: to live in ways that are remote from agriculture, in which foraging and sustenance are pursued in a milieu of other people, buildings, waste and consumption, where there is a great richness of ideas and conversational opportunity. In the city we meet people who are unlike ourselves, and we come into contact with ideas that are new to us, which might be taken up or not. In the present it is arguable that these exchanges can happen through more nebulous contact, without necessarily being in the city, because of writing and electronic communication. Until the last few decades however the broader social contact was possible only in the city, and it is in cities that we expect to find the new ways of living being worked out. The milieu has in it not only the flow of nutrition and spaces of shelter, but other people and their ideas—so we make temporary assemblages through the day, with things in the city snd things that have come into it, including ideas from our neighbours and from long ago and far away, picked up from reading or in conversation. Concepts need people if they are to survive and reproduce, and urban milieux are the great breeding-grounds for concepts and experimentation.
Introduction to Special Session: Utilizing assemblage theory to model the origins of plant domestication in Mesoamerica
Increasingly fine-grained data are overturning classic, linear explanations (e.g. Gordon Childe's 'Neolithic Revolution') of the independent emergence of agriculture in numerous hearths around the world in the early Holocene. Domestication is now understood to be a slow, nonlinear process of socially-embedded genetic and environmental transformations arising within certain complex hunter-gatherer landscapes and coming to hold sway due to a wide range of endogenous and exogenous human/natural factors as diverse as climate change, geomorphology, feasting, risk management, and shifting gender roles. In the case of Mesoamerica and particularly with maize, traditional, variable-limited explanations of its rise to dominance in the milpa cropping system are inadequate--there remains no "good reason" why it was domesticated in the first place. We are thus in the early stages of utilizing assemblage theory to produce and test a set of dynamic models of potential early Holocene Mesoamerican socioenvironmental assemblages that incorporate multiplicities of imbricated genetic, social, ecological, and physical geographical systems at the virtual, intensive, and extensive registers. To this end, we are particularly interested in the potential of creating novel Deleuzian approaches to genetics to rethink genotype-phenotype-environment quandaries. This special session includes two papers (Protevi; Bonta et al.) and a discussion/question period.
Modelling Domestication Assemblages
We contrast several dynamic models of hunter-gatherer pre-domestication landscape assemblages to theorize potential mechanisms and thresholds of transformation to sedentary domestication landscape assemblages.
Assemblage Theory: Between Correlationism and Relational Plasticity
This paper will focus on the relationality issue of assemblages, in particular when the later are exemplified as (complex) social networks. As DeLanda has already argued "interpersonal networks are perhaps the social entities that are the easiest to handle, given that in network theory the emphasis is always on relations of exteriority." Nevertheless, a first issue to discuss here is whether assemblages are hypostatizing the correlation between heterogeneous ideas and things by instantiating the abstract formality of logical filiations, associative and causal operators and other cognitive interiorities co-functioning in a networked assemblage. Another issue would be to assess the footing of assemblages as a constant flux of becoming between "symbiosis" and "sympathy." With regards the former notion, Graham Harman has brought up the relevance of Lynn Margulis' Serial Endosymbiosis Theory, which aims at tiding up the ambiguities in the concept of assemblage symbiosis and emergent transformations over time. On the other side, accepting the assemblage's unity in terms of "sympathy" (as well as alliances and alloys) clinches the case of network mixing or intermingling (or dis/assortativity) studied in the field of social network analysis in the guise of processes of homophily or heterophily. By the same token, one should not forget that the notions of assemblage's "contagions, epidemics, the wind" originate from Gabriel Tarde's laws of imitation, invention, opposition and vibratory movements. A final issue that we intend to discuss here concerns the relational plasticity of assemblages in the context of Catherine Malabou's theorization of the Hegelian concept of plasticity. To be specific, network assemblages do not exhibit solely exterior influence, but they may complementarily bolster the emergence of plastic processes of interior selection, when the components of an assemblage (themselves assemblages too) might express in their relative autonomy certain intrinsic dispositions to alter their ties (or modify the conditions in their boundaries) with other assemblages.
Why I fell for assemblages
Assemblage Thinking, implying a relational and processual view of socio-ecological systems as multiplicities constituted by multitudinous assemblages, provides an ontological alternative either to wholes/essences or to the ontological void of many studies. The value of assemblage-based approaches to the study of socio-ecological problems and the steering of interventions in socio-ecological systems is examined on four fronts: conceptual/theoretical, methodological/analytical, empirical, and policy/governance.
On the conceptual/theoretical front, the assemblage ontology enables a non-reductionist and integrative reconceptualization of the objects of reference of socio-ecological studies while the all-embracing conceptual apparatus of Assemblage Thinking can frame and support the synthesis of theories from various scientific fields and traditional/lay knowledge for substantive socio-ecological theory building.
On the methodological/analytical front, Assemblage Thinking directs analysis at individual assemblages and not 'the SES as a whole' and calls for methodological pluralism, judicious combined use of both quantitative and qualitative techniques and, more importantly, development of novel approaches to the analysis of the relational and continuous becoming of real world multiplicities.
On the empirical front, Assemblage Thinking can meaningfully guide the situated analysis of socio-spatial phenomena as dynamically constituted by assemblages emerging from formal and informal processes that constantly and contemporaneously bring together and/or pull apart heterogeneous, relatively autonomous human and nonhuman entities through multi-level place- and time-specific mechanisms.
Finally, on the policy/governance front, policy and planning analysis and practice are embedded in the uncertain, unpredictable and blurred milieu of multiplicities with the emphasis placed on morphogenetic processes, nonlinear relationships among co-evolving natural and human entities, and emergent, situated outcomes of policy and planning interventions. Analysts and managers are, thus, alerted to be open to the unexpected as well as to the need to develop and practice assemblage-based adaptive governance of real world multiplicities constituted by intermingling formal (arborescent) and informal (rhizomatic) assemblages.
The scientific and policy interest in the human responses to environmental degradation usually focuses on responses sensu stricto and 'best practices' that potentially abate degradation in affected areas. The transfer of individual, discrete instruments and 'best practices' to different contexts is challenging, however, because socio-ecological systems (SESs) are complex and environmental degradation is contextual and contingent. To sensibly assess the effectiveness of formal and informal interventions to combat environmental degradation, the paper proposes an integrative, non-reductionist analytic, the 'response assemblage' for the study of 'responses-in-context', i.e. products of human decisions to utilize environmental resources to satisfy human needs in SESs. Response assemblages are defined as geographically and historically unique, provisional, open, territorial wholes, complex compositions emerging from processes of assembling biophysical and human components, including responses sensu stricto, from affected focal and other SESs, to serve human goals, one of which may be combatting environmental degradation. The degree of match among the components, called the socio-ecological fit of the response assemblage, indicates how effectively their contextual and contingent interactions maintain the socio-ecological resilience, promote sustainable development and secure the continuous provision of ecosystem services in a focal SES. The paper presents a conceptual approach to the analysis of the socio-ecological fit of response assemblages and details an integrated assessment methodology synthesizing the resilience, assemblage and 'problem of fit' literature. Lastly, it summarizes the novelty, value and policy relevance of conceptualizing human responses as response assemblages and of the integrated assessment methodology, reconsiders 'best practices' and suggests selected future research directions.
The assemblage and disassemblage of a generation. The case of the Greek Youth
The presentation introduces a description of young people as the assemblage of a social group, presenting their social and cultural characteristics. It first presents the characteristics of what is historically called in Greece the «Generation of the Polytechnic School uprising», namely young people in the post-dictatorship period (1974), and, secondly, of the current generation of young people who are experiencing the economic crisis (2009-2015). Each generation is defined as an assemblage of a) common social characteristics (cohort), b) a shared historical experience, d) the dominant spirit of the time, e) as well as the specific generational Life Cycle. The emergence of the current young generation is closely related to the existing social structures against the wider backdrop of a semi-modernist Greek social regime. The chapter highlights the historical fact of a Geneo-cide, as a fact of social disassemblage, that is, the social annihilation of a whole generation of young people in Greece, due to fallacies, bad policies, and lack of solidarity by older generations.
The presentation aims to present an analytical and theoretical effort for a new perception of youth as a social concept, avoiding a common stereotypical methodology that often leads to a political and administrative 'construction' of youth, based mainly on formal statistics or state employment programmes. Indeed, it seems that it is an extremely difficult task to identify youth and young people today in a way that will allow us to record accurately their social and cultural characteristics, as well as the important contemporary social phenomena that define them. Data collected through the research programme 'In4Youth' (2012-2015) contributed to an extensive elaboration of a theoretical model for youth, as well as a reflection on the various efforts young people undertake during the transition from education to work.
A Comparison of Deleuze's Assemblage Theory and the New Materialist Approach
This lecture will discuss the fundamental concepts of the theory of assemblages, contrasting the original formulation as found in the work of Deleuze and Guattari with the version of the theory that has been developed in the new materialism. The most important difference is social ontology: whereas D&G consider only individuals, groups, and societies, the new materialist approach is based on a much more detailed break down of the components of a country: from communities and organizations, to industrial networks and government hierarchies, to cities, regions, and provinces.
Geopolitical assemblages and the Global Network of Navies
In this speculative paper, I lay out a research agenda that emphasises the re-territorialization of military assemblages in ways that enable the transnational circulation of affects, both violent or otherwise. These assemblages are multiple and overlapping, and can be imagined as a geopolitical force that acts through — and on — state policy-making apparatuses. This agenda is crucial to understanding the contemporary geopolitical condition, which continues to be framed through the lens of state interests and action despite the changing circumstances
City as Assemblage
This paper explores the application of assemblage thinking to the understanding of cities as urban assemblages. It will have two key themes. First, such an approach enables us to engage more effectively with issues of urban informality as a conjunction of informal and formal processes. This conjunction resonates with the cluster of twofold concepts that are generally identified as deterritorialization/territorialization but also smooth/striated, rhizome/tree-like, supple/rigid, major/minor and becoming/being. Informal settlements emerge in a double movement of both the 'formal' city becoming informalized and the 'informal' city becoming formalized. Assemblage enables us to re-think the notion of urban coding through the intersection of informal and formal codes. Second, assemblage enables us to overcome the often binary distinction between materialities and expressions, morphologies and meanings, spatial practices and discourses. While often associated with a 'material' turn or with 'non-representational' theory, the power of assemblage lies in engagement with both materiality and expression, and with the intersections between them. It enables us to take the 'spatial turn' in social theory seriously in showing how cities 'work' in terms of both morphology and meaning. In the general context of urban studies, assemblage thinking offers the prospect of new forms of mapping and diagramming that can bring greater rigor to the production of spatial knowledge and new forms of critique to concepts such as the 'open city' and the 'right to the city'.
Cosmog(eo)raphies of difference Bringing the Natural and the Human together: Latour, Deleuze, Badiou
As the lacunas of nature and society, non-human and human, physical and cultural, are often confidently considered to be two separated and incongruent images of thought, the article is an attempt to explore the possibilities and risks for social theory of bridging the gap between discourses. I shall be arguing, accordingly, that the distinction between nature and society can get these days extremely blurred and that a more nuanced approach is still required that will bring the former to bear upon the latter and vice versa –albeit not in any dialectical fashion. The article is divided in three parts in thinking in terms of the mutual invagination and interpenetration of nature and society: first, it offers a theoretically informed approach that manages to think of human agency in non-human terms with reference to Bruno Latour's Actor Network Theory, specifically, by drawing on the meaning of uncertainty; second, it follows a theory of becoming that traces the links between animal, non-human and human by way of what Gilles Deleuze's philosophy termed becoming; and last but not least it envisages how the above orientations and links between the natural and the social can be further supplanted and supplemented by a mathematical theory of nature with recourse to Alain Badiou's Being and Event, especially by reference to the non-existence of nature.
Protocol Assemblages. From digital to analog modes of production.
Distributed networks and their property to organize horizontally, without any strict hierarchy, are quite often compared to the concept of the assemblage as defined by Deleuze and Guattari. After all, distributed networks like the web, are able to reconfigure their parts and establish new connections between them while retaining their general characteristics. At the same time, distributed network, in order to be able to function as such, have to rely on protocols; those technological – but also conceptual – frameworks that provide the common language that is necessary for different nodes to communicate with each other. Since without a protocol the network cannot exist, the former has absolute control over the later.
The distributed nature of networks like the internet initially led many to consider them as an ideal tool for the establishment of a more democratic, open and non-hierarchical way of organization. However, as our everyday experience with networks proves, and as protocological control theoretically explains, that is not necessarily the case; on the contrary, more often than not it tends to lead us towards the opposite direction. The lecture with analyze the above using architecture as a case study, and will argue, that protocologically controlled systems in order to function as assemblages have to move away from their digital conception towards analog modes of production.
Abstract machines of urbanization: political economy, ethics, and aesthetics
In A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari write:
"The abstract machine does not exist independently of the assemblage, any more than the assemblage functions independently of the machine" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 100).
Much attention has been paid to the idea of urban assemblages – particularly in the debate coursing through the journal Cityin 2011 and in the Farías and Bender's volume Urban Assemblages(2009) – but relatively little scholarship has paid much attention to the notion of abstract machines as they relate to the urbanization process (with the exception of Lancione
(2013), but he focuses primarily on the abstract machines of love and homelessness, rather than the production of the urban environment as such). This paper draws on Zepke's (2005)
investigation of abstract machines and ontology in Deleuze and Guattari, as well as an in-depth empirical study of the redevelopment of Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood from a sleepy
warehouse district into what is now primarily known as the center of Amazon's worldwide operations, to argue that at the abstract machine piloting the formation of this particular urban
assemblage has at least three intertwined operative dimensions: political economy, ethics, and aesthetics. Broadly, this is presented as a rejoinder to Brenner et al's (2011) assertion that
assemblage thinking cannot serve as an ontology for critical urban inquiry, and argues that this framework can better grasp the complexity of the forces driving urbanization today than
Brenner's conception of critical urban theory.
Assemblage Theory and Actor-Network Theory: A comparative, empirical case study from media sociology
This paper is a comparative, empirical evaluation of the efficacy of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and DeLanda's reading of Deleuze and Guatarri's concept of assemblages (AT) as frameworks for understanding a sociological phenomenon: amateur online video. This evaluation is based on an analysis of a 12-month ethnographic investigation into amateur online video using these two theories. The ethnographic investigation was initially shaped by the humanistic media studies literature concerning this phenomenon, but after three months in the field it became clear that there were important elements of my informants' experiences, such as the unexpectedly complex and difficult relationship they had with the technologies they used, that could not be adequately handled within the humanistic framework. I will discuss how different aspects of AT and ANT not only provided insights beyond those possible with traditional humanistic approaches, but how drawing upon the different vocabularies and sensibilities of both theories provided a more complete analysis of the multifaceted situations I encountered in the field than would have been possible using only one theory alone.
What kind of politics does an assemblage ontology become?
Deleuze and Guattari (D&G) wrote philosophy existed 'in historical complicity with the State.' Their line of flight from minor philosophy to nomadology, rhizomes, segmentarity and micropolitical forces articulated an assemblage ontology based on the exteriority of forces. That ontology is indivisible from their denunciation of state philosophy and decentering of arborescent power, an articulation of thought and practice which inhibits and deterritorializes the state as much as the essentialism and interiority of state philosophy.
What does D&G's assemblage theory mean for politics and governance? Politics is not just the contestation of states and subjects, but is crucially the territorialization and destratification of flows. Destratifying actors - nomad, itinerant artisan, war machine, molecular flows - are external to the state but when overcoded by it, stratified or captured by it, become a state-assemblage. These social forms' organization is not equivalent to state governance, as their practice is to create smooth space, inhibit state formation, and spread rhizomatically. States overcode deterritorialized flows, making them resonate within an axiomatic (the inter-state system, global capital).
D&G do not necessarily contrast the arborescent state with a free, molecular, nomadic subjectivity however. Particularly relevant to the present moment, they argue fascism is the proliferation of molecular forces, a war machine that takes over the state. The current rise of rightist populism is, from this perspective, a mass of molecular lines of flight imperceptible by macropolitics (until they emerge abruptly as Brexit, Trump etc.)
Assembling the transplantation of organs: (How) Can assemblage thinking inform an analytical understanding of a spatialized medical practice
Medical-technological advancements in organ transplantation since the first attempted kidney transplant in the 1930s have made possible treatments to otherwise fatal diseases of vital organs such as e.g. heart, liver, kidney and lungs. Since then, discourses have revolved around ethical standards and fair models of allocation of a resource that is delicate and scarce. At the same time, global economic inequalities have risen to unprecedented heights (see OECD 2015: 23ff.). This is seen to have triggered increased transplantation-related mobility despite indications pointing to higher chances of complications (e.g. for the case of US-citizens travelling abroad: Gill et al. 2008; for Australian citizens: Kennedy et al. 2005). Such activities are deemed e.g. transplant travel, meaning acts of travelling internationally in order to benefit from differing regulations of organ transplantation, using financial means to purchase organs (Cohen 2013). In the wake of these developments, many states have issued regulatory acts concerning the transplantation of human tissues, defining legal and illegal practices of explantation, compensation, allocation and implantation.
The project I am working on focuses especially on the role of spatialization(s) in (globalized) practices of organ transplantation. In order to understand them, I am mainly interested in two questions: (1) How are resources, people, capital, events, processes in the field of organ transplantation coded to certain spaces and in how far are these spaces an effect of 'socio-technical practices' (e.g. Painter 2010:1093)? (2) What kind of role do spatial formations play in practices through which 'problematizations' in the field of organ transplantations are performed? These questions seek to reconstruct spatializations beyond 'already existing spatial resolutions (even if socially produced) between which, and among which, social actors simply relocate themselves' (Moore 2008:210). There is a rich literature on socio-spatial theories and social spatialization that might apply to these question (e.g. Jessop et al. 2008). However, from a geographers point of view, assemblage theory seems to provide a fascinating bundle of arguments to frame some of the more problematic implications of TPSN a related bodies of spatial theory. Especially, it offers an understanding of social entities as formed through relations of exteriority (DeLanda 2006, 2016) making the concept attractive for the investigation of social dynamics.
The concept of assemblage has been discussed as an analytical device that, firstly, allows for conceptualizing the object of inquiry – the assemblage of organ transplantation - as an entity that responds to a demand, a deficit, a situation, or an affordance that has become a problem from a certain perspective or need. Typically, the problematizations refer to a class or group of problems revolving around technoscience, politics and ethics of human life (Collier and Lakoff 2005, Collier and Ong 2005). Secondly, assemblage theory puts an analytical focus on the understanding of the process of formation which includes – in an Deleuzoguattarian terminology – materialities and enunciations or contents and expressions, or, – in a more Foucauldian language – technology and knowledge. It has been linked to fundamental epistemological problems, such as the role of the material and materiality in social sciences (McFarlane and Anderson 2011a, b); and it has been used as a conceptual instrument in order to dissect equally fundamental social, political, economic, and spatial transformations of society (Sassen 2008). Moreover, stretching out to the realm of the pre-discursive and being rooted in psycho-analytical thinking, the concept of assemblage offers to go beyond established fields of social inquiry. Thirdly, in contrast to holistic understandings of social entities, assemblages have been understood as temporary, leading to both order and dis-order, territorialization and de-territorialization (e.g. Legg 2011:129).
However, though assemblage is a colourful concept that has given rise to hopes and expectations by offering emancipation from established ways of conceptually framing empirical research through the fresh epistemological imaginary it provides, there is a lot of sceptical commentary, too: Though the notion of assemblage is loaded with analytical aspiration, there have been—as Marcus and Saka (2006:102) state—"inspirational evocations of the ethos of the practice of assemblage from the aesthetic sphere". Playing around with the concept of assemblages blurs the boundaries of established analytical categories, but the way it challenges patterns of reasoning has been blamed for its lack of analytical rigour which might also be owed to the ease with which the term has crossed disciplinary boundaries from psychoanalysis/schizoanalysis to anthropology, geography, sociology, political sciences etc. It is not surprising, thus, that some harsher comments blame the term "an odd, irregular, time-limited object for contemplation" (Marcus and Saka 2006:102) and point to "the built-in obsolescence of the term in the global futures market of academic authority" (Sparke o.J.:)—not least because of some "more obfuscatory theoretical formulations of the term by anthropologists referencing (but not always reading) Deleuze and Guattari" (ibid.). Though it seemingly has inspired and provoked a lot of writers and writings, we have to ask if assemblage—as a term that "should perhaps allow us to do certain things and enable us to think in certain ways that were not possible before" (Allen 2011:154)—can enrich the analytical repertoire that already exists.
Based on first empirical findings in the field of organ transplantation, I will discuss the potential benefits of assemblage thinking in understanding
- Allen, J. (2011): Powerful assemblages? Area, 43, 154-157.
- Cohen, I. G. (2013): Transplant Tourism: The Ethics and Regulations of International Markets for Organs. The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 41, 269-285.
- Collier, S. J. & A. Lakoff (2005): On Regimes of Living. In: S. J. Collier & A. Ong (Hrsg.): Global Assemblages. Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems,Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell: 22-39.
- Collier, S. J. & A. Ong (2005): Global Assemblages. Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems.Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell.
- DeLanda, M. (2006): A New Philosophy of Society. Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. continuum.
--- (2016): Assemblage Theory.Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
- Jessop, B., Brenner, N., & M. Jones (2008): Theorizing sociospatial relations. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 26(3), 389-401.
- Legg, S. (2011): Assemblage/apparatus: using Deleuze and Foucault. Area, 43, 128-133.
- Marcus, G. E. & E. Saka (2006): Assemblage. Theory, Culture & Society, 23, 101-106.
- McFarlane, C. & B. Anderson (2011a): Assemblage and geography. Area, 43, 124-127.
--- (2011b): Thinking with assemblage. Area, 43, 162-164.
- Moore, A. (2008): Rethinking Scale as a Geographic Category: From Analysis to Practice. Progress in Human Geography, 32, 203-225.
- Painter, J. (2010): Rethinking Territory. Antipode, 42, 1090-1118.
- Sparke, M. (o.J.) Triangulating Globalization - Review Article. http://faculty.washington.edu/sparke/sassen.pdf (last accessed 16.3.2014).
Imaging and imagining with assemblages
The notion of connectivity in its various forms is fundamental to the theory of assemblages. Relations define connections, and different connectivities may lead to different structures with varying properties as far as symbiosis or structural stability are concerned. We elaborate on an imaging framework for the mapping of assemblages of wide and general applicability that at the same time allows one to quantify and capture concepts such as connectivity, nonlinearity as well as processes such as the dynamic changes of assemblages due to internal or external factors and contingencies.
The Virtual Status of "Unexpressed Genetic Variation"
The presentation relates two key concepts of Mary Jane West-Eberhard's Developmental Plasticity and Evolution (Oxford, 2003) -- unexpressed genetic variation and genetic accommodation -- to Deleuze's notions of the virtual and counter-actualization. I will first show how the strong anti-genetic reductionist stance of some strands of contemporary biology reveals an interlocking system of genetic and epigenetic factors guiding development. In this new perspective, the genome is no longer a blueprint determining development with epigenetic factors being merely occasions for regulatory genes to kick into action and orchestrate development. Rather, the genome is something akin to a musical score from which musicians draw and recombine bits and pieces while leaving a track of their actions, thus in effect rewriting the score in the very playing of it. This distributed developmental guidance system, with both genetic and epigenetic factors being active participants, can be seen as a differentiated virtual multiplicity in Deleuze's terms. Finally, I will show that West-Eberhard's concept of genetic accommodation is an example of Deleuze's counter-effectuation. In other words, genetic accommodation is the way intensive individuation processes bring forth previously unexpressed virtual potentials; it is the way individuating development changes the differentiated multiplicity guiding that very development's next steps.
Ecologies of Architecture
The Ecologies of Architecture (EoA) is a neo-materialist architecture research group at TU Delft that focuses on a different, i.e. machinic, conception of consistency which is determined neither by the autonomy of the vitalist whole (organicism), nor by the geometric expression of the whole in its parts (mechanicism), but by the dark precursor's zigzagging between the Scylla of submissive empathy and the Charybdis of dominating abstraction. In the words of Deleuze: "it is not a matter of bringing things together under one and the same [universal] concept, but rather of relating each [singular] concept to the variables that determine its mutations." EoA claims that the current Digital Turn in architecture effectively reproduces the Cartesian duality of mind and body (ghost in the shell), removing the former from contexts of engagement with the environment while treating the latter as no more than a kind of recording mechanism, converting the stimuli that impinge upon it into data to be processed. It is for this reason that EoA wants to revamp the legacy of Deleuzian transcendental empiricism in general and Gibsonian ecological perception in particular. The American psychologist Gibson vehemently rejected the reductionist information-processing view, with its implied separation of the activity of the mind in the body (abstraction) from the reactivity of the body in the world (empathy), arguing instead that perception is part and parcel of the total system of relations constituted by the ecology of the life form or its mode of existence (metastable plasticity). EoA makes it, after Guattari, ecologies in the plural: environmental, social and psychical (transversality). If architects ever stopped to consider how much of life is guided by ego-logic (intentionality) and how much by eco-logic (gratuitous encounters), they would certainly pay far more attention to the Collective equipment. "The minimum real unit is not the word, the idea, the concept or the signifier", explains Deleuze, "but the assemblage."
Assemblage thinking and actor-network theory: conjunctions, disjunctions, cross-fertilisations
This paper shows that assemblage thinking and actor-network theory (ANT) have much more to gain from each other than debate has so far conceded. Exploring the conjunctions and disjunctions between the two approaches, it proposes three cross-fertilisations that have implications for understanding three key processes in our socio-material world: stabilisation, change and affect. First, the conceptual vocabulary of ANT can enrich assemblage thinking with an explicitly spatial account of the ways in which assemblages are drawn together, reach across space and are stabilised. Second, each approach is better attuned to conceptualising a particular kind of change in socio-material relations: ANT describes change without rupture, or fluidity, whereas assemblage thinking describes change with rupture, or events. Third and last, assemblage thinking could fashion ANT with a greater sensitivity for the productive role of affect in bringing socio-material relations into being through the production of desire/wish (désir). We demonstrate the implications of these cross-fertilisations for empirical work through a case study of the global market for assisted reproduction.
Assemblage theory and the driving forces of (Pre)history: the case of the Cycladic figurines
Archaeologists have always sought the social significance of past material remains. Thus, assemblage theory and the idea that people and things are intertwined in a dynamic relation and they hence form a whole larger than its constituent parts and yet always heterogeneous, fluid and flexible, struck a chord with them. Nevertheless, the archaeological implementation of assemblage theory has often been combined with a bold post-humanocentrism, which has created an imbalance within a by-definition humanities discipline. Moreover, the notion of assemblages in a constant state of immanence makes it difficult to tease out the drives of socio-historical transformation and by extension the historicity of interpretative narratives about the past and its material remains.
The paper addresses the above issues with special reference to the well-known Cycladic figurines from predominantly -albeit not exclusively- funerary contexts dating to the 3rd millennium BC. The figurines are contrasted to the dead that they accompanied and the bodies of the people that performed the related burial rites. It is argued the latter constituted assemblages, wherein the human figure was present in three different materialities and types of ontology: as a thing or non-human being made of marble, as an active human being made of live organic tissue and as a dead person, thus in a state of flux in between an active human being and a thing. It is further argued that this contrast was a central concern not only of Early Cycladic burial rites but also of the way of life that characterised the southern Aegean at the time
Design Intentions and Generative Design Processes
The paper presents a design methodology that advances the use of computers on generative processes in architectural design. It is based on the view that design is a cognitive activity that aims to construct a coherent and meaningful description about an artefact through continuous reformations of instances of information. This activity progresses though a sequence of transformational processes, initiated from designers' personal intentions. These intentions provide an assemblage of connections through information which is differentiated from an initial brief and does not operate in a linear fashion. Despite the fact that this assemblage may not always rely on logical reasoning, it nevertheless provides a coherent path for design actions.
The final design artefact is seen as a fit between the requirements, disorders, indications, discontinuities, conflicts, differences, etc. that arise within varied, dissimilar and unconnected fields of knowledge and information. This fit is judged in relation to the designer's assemblage of connections that acts at a higher-level and has to do with his or her conceptualizations of the context within which design is accomplished. This bonds together design actions as in the case of a narrative where one resolution is justified by some previous one.
The paper outlines a direction for flexible and responsive digital design systems in accordance with the view above. The aim is to provide a framework for the implementation of systems that support congregations of spatial configurations but, at the same time, allow the association of formal features to higher-level abstract concepts and their manipulation under different fields of knowledge. The approach differentiates between: a. a low-level modelling machine for the creation and editing of primitive geometric entities, b. sub-systems that include grammatical and syntactic rules according which initial objects are arranged and organized, c. a system for mapping instances of the geometrical forms to values and logical propositions within different knowledge domains, d. an assemblage of connections that regulates the continuation and the progression between different stages in design, and e. an output system that translates geometry into structural primitives or complete assemblies with the aim to inform digital fabrication. The key elements of the approach are the parameterisation of the design process and the issue of performativity according which the evaluations of the design proposal are assessed.
The approach is illustrated from examples of projects from an educational course that was developed as a design studio in the school of architecture of Thessaloniki, Greece. The examples include a. urban sites characterized by increased movement of pedestrians and vehicles, b. transitional spaces, and c. structures that utilise new materials and modes of construction.
An assemblage approach to biopolitics: studying practices of refugee health care
Migration politics is biopolitics in two senses of the term. On the one hand, it is concerned with the government of populations, its compositions, structures and dynamics. On the other hand, it marks a "politics of life" (Fassin 2009) in that it structures living environments, works on the bodies of people on the move, and organizes life and death. While larger parts of migration studies as well as theoretical discussions on biopolitics tend to posit the individual/body/subject in opposition to the state/sovereign/institution, I suggest that an assemblage theory approach to biopolitics offers a more nuanced way of examining the interactions between refugees and institutional settings. Using the example of refugee health care in Germany, I explore how biopolitics can be considered as a heterogeneous field that is characterized by often provisional, ambiguous and conflicting logics. Negotiating and balancing of these logics happens in situated interactions, i.e. between sub-national institutions and their employees, health personnel, and refugees. Approaching the topic in this way avoids considering refugees as either passive subjects of biopolitical power or autonomous individuals/collectives, and places emphasis on affective encounters and the proliferation of affects in various directions. I discuss methodological implications of such an approach to biopolitics, paying particular attention to the interrelations and transitions between its expressive and machinic dimensions.
Woods Michael, with Heley Jesse, Jones Laura, Welsh Marc, Fois Francesca, Onyeahialam Anthonia and Saville Samantha
Assemblage, Place and Globalization
This paper seeks to apply assemblage thinking to developing understanding of how places are changed through globalization, and how globalization is reproduced through places. Following primarily De Landa's (2006, 2016) rendering of assemblage 'theory' – and particularly his emphasis on the material and expressive roles of components, dynamics of territorialization and deterritorialization, practices of coding and de-coding and the exteriority of relations of an assemblage – but also drawing insights directly from Deleuze and Guattari as well as from Foucault, Latour and Callon, we elaborate a two-dimensional view of globalization. In the first dimension, globalization is viewed as a process of assembling and (de-)assembling, an act of agencement, which involves the bringing together and taking apart, territorialization and deterritorialization, and coding and re-coding of components, as well as both the smoothing and striation of space. In the second dimension, globalization is seen to be (re-)produced through interactions between assembalges-as-nouns, including the coalescence of assemblages into larger translocal assemblages, the switching of components between assemblages, and changes to the composition of local or place-assemblages as their interaction with global or trans-local assemblages alters. Significantly, we recognise that the assemblages involved in such dynamics include places, with which translocal or 'global' assemblages necessarily share components. As such, we articulate a series of principles for applying assemblage as an analytical framework to the study of localities with globalization, illustrating the principles with empirical examples taken from case study research for the European Research Council GLOBAL-RURAL project.