Todd Meyers interviews Paul Rabinow
On the Logic of Anthropological Inquiry: A Conversation with Paul Rabinow, Los Angeles Review of Books, November 4th, 2013
FOR DECADES Paul Rabinow has been producing scholarship that tightens the aperture around what it means to write and think with anthropology. His work is ambitious and broad-reaching, yet at its core there is a preoccupation with the details of practice as well as modes of inquiry and their ethical, conceptual, tangible dimensions — the stuff of “doing” fieldwork in the interpretive social sciences. Rabinow’s work operates through numerous valences: it is driven by personal intellectual commitments articulated in a distinct voice, yet remains fiercely collaborative; it tackles areas seemingly absent of human presence (the laboratory, the administrative life of private and public sector biosciences research, the domain of concepts), yet is densely populated by actors throughout — furthermore, he insists on asking what it is to be human and what it means to make claims on life and living today. Across numerous books, articles, and interventions, Rabinow’s efforts have remained inventive, unquiet, and experimental.
irst with Bennett and then with Stavrianakis, we worked together almost every day. This practice is accelerative and challenging. Its advantage is a flow of ideas and narration not interrupted by longer and shorter stretches of time with bureaucracy, irritations of the rampant pettiness and gossip that abounds, et cetera. The price to be paid aside from being neglected and even scorned was the risk of insularity. We hoped to counter that tendency by strong dialogue with thinkers such as Foucault, Dewey, Weber, Seneca, and Aristotle. One can easily imagine how this strategy was received in certain quarters — even philosophers complaining about the use of German and Greek terms!