The Political Anthropology of Artificial Creation: Technology in Politics, in Economics and in Art

^ 27th June to - 4th July, 2015. ^

Casa Lazzaro, Acquapendente, Lago Bolsena (Lazio), ITALY.

The theme of our 2015 Summer School is technology, understood as a modality of ‘artificial creation’. The central aim is to problematize the taken for granted character of technology, most of the time considered as merely the main engine of economic growth and social progress. Indeed, in modern times, many social issues are merely considered 'technical issues', that is, matters of utility or functionality, devoid of any moral or political content, which indicates the extent to which technological thinking predominates in our world. The Summer School will rather turn attention to the problem that ‘artificial creation’ represents for the integrity of beings, as the precondition of artificial change and technological growth is the prior destruction of the authentic integrity of entities, whether inorganic or living, vegetative, animal or human.

In order to analyse this process, as series of key analytical concepts will be introduced, developed in anthropology, like rites of passage, liminality, imitation, and schismogenesis. Artificial creation is first and foremost a breakage of authentic forms in liminal situations, and also a way of rendering a new form physically visible. As this implies a historical process, this theme also ties together political anthropology and comparative history.

The technique of ‘artificial creation’ has been extensively explored and used in modern art, a main reason why in modernity art turned away from representing and evoking the beauty of nature, and rather – through formalism, abstraction, surrealism, and other forms of avant-garde – became an explicit instrument of the technological destruction and transformation of the real. Thus, technology has close affinities with magic (see Alfred Gell). The study of this technological process, which is modelled in the three stages of rites of passage, rituals that have a long-term historical affinity with technology, through the rise of metallurgy, can help us understand how constructed identities interact with technology in order to render economic growth and artificial multiplication smooth, hiding the violence of the process.


To apply:

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The deadline for applications is the 1st May 2015.

To apply, please send a letter of reccomendation from your academic supervisor and a separate statement of interest about why you find the theme interesting and how it might relate to your research.

There is no fee for the summer school and the accommodation is provided on a charitable basis. A donation of 10 euro a night would suffice for this and bring a sleepling bag! Other associated costs will be your own transport and food etc.

Teaching staff:

Dr Agnes Horvath, UCC, Cork

Professor Bjorn Thomassen, Roskilde University, Copenhagen

Dr Harald Wydra, Cambridge University

Professor Arpad Szakolczai, UCC, Cork

Dr Tom Boland, WIT, Waterford

Dr John O’Brien, WIT, Waterford

Masterclasses: Dr. Papp Z. Attila (Hungarian Academy of Sciences); Dr Jozsef Lorincz and Dr Szabo Tohotom (Minority Institute-Babes Bolyai University, Cluj); Andrei Tarkovsky (Tarkovsky Institute, Florence)

Administrator: Diletta Tonatto


 Previous Summer School info:


Summer School 2014

The 2013 IPASS International Political Anthropology Summer School on Devotion to Leadership