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Technoscientic Infrastructures and Emergent Forms of Life: A Commentary

ABSTRACT New forms of life, ethical plateaus, and civic political contests arise through the creation of new technoscientic infras-

tructures in which market, law, code, and norms compete for hegemonic control over the rules of play. A review of a panel of four articles interrogates agendas for ethnographies of the locally diverse peopling of such new infrastructures, including the continuing renegotiation of historical and emergent modalities of ethical and political reason. [Keywords: emergent forms of life, technoscientic infrastructures, deep play, ethical plateaus, biology as civics]

N FOCUS AND ON THE agenda for the 21st century are both the interface between ethnographic methods and science and technology studies, and, more broadly, the peopling and reappropriation of technologies in locally diverse waysincluding the continuing renegotiation of historical and emergent modalities of ethical and political reason. These are not only matters of skilled manpower ows or new technologies but also of how interpretation works, symbolic resonances are mobilized, passions are channeled, risks are leveraged, and how things t together (the anthropological and ecological rule: You cannot change only one thing, things have unexpected interconnections and implications). They are matters of emergent new forms of life, of new ethical plateaus and civic political contests, and of deep play that implodes not in cockghts or buzkashi games, but in the arenas of new technoscientic infrastructures in which market, law, code, and norms compete for hegemonic control over the rules of play.1 Anthropology operates both (1) in a set of third spaces,2 where new ethics are evolving out of demands that culturesincluding differentiating occupational, legal, science, and engineering cultures as well as national, class, sociolinguistic, ethnic, or religious onesattend to one another; and (2) within technoscientic networks, where the demands of the face of the other,3 history, and autobiographical gurations counter the reduction of all to the same. Anthropologys challenge is to develop translation and mediation tools for making visible the difference of interests, access, power, needs, desires, anxieties, and philosophical perspectives. As we begin to face new kinds of ethical dilemmas stemming from biotechnological developments, expansive in-

formation databases, and ecological interactions, ethnography provides the groundings on which to develop tools and new categories for analysisnot just slot new developments into the categories of the pastand to observe and help articulate new social institutions for an evolving civil society. Among the tools of analysis brought into focus in these articles are the seeking out of material-semiotic objects (cytochrome P-450 enzymes, T- or CD-4 cells, farmed wild animals for amboyant banquets, and bioengineered small molecules),4 instruments (ow cytometers, DNA sequencing machines, software interoperability, and experimental systems), and circuits of media and exchange (trade shows, celebrity tours, and patent licensing). These material-semiotic objects, instruments, and circuits are indexical of new relations of production and consumption, of changed relations of cognition and subjectivity, and of new articulatory or ennunciatory communities that can introduce new political relations and institutional forms, changing the voicing of who speaks for whom. These objects, instruments, and circuits act as materialsemiotic switching points in the reconguration of old and new technologies, conceptual grammars or syntax, and ethical plateaus (or terrains of consequential decision making). We live (again) in an era in which new ethical and political spaces are thrown up that require action and have serious consequences but for which the possibilities for giving grounds or reasons quickly run out.5 Traditional ethical and moral guides do not always seem helpful, and we are often left to negotiate multiplicities of interests and trade-offs in legal or other tournaments of decision making over time. In the eld of U.S. Internet law, for instance, court decisions

AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 107, Issue 1, pp. 5561, ISSN 0002-7294, electronic ISSN 1548-1433. C 2005 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Presss Rights and Permissions website, at


American Anthropologist Vol. 107, No. 1 March 2005 were the 19th-century world expositions and exotica shows from todays celebrity tours such as Real Madrid in China? On the agenda, then, is a need to clarify what really is at stake in the notion of emergence. There are at least two things. First is the organizational concept that the relations among physics, chemistry, and biology are levels of organization that emerged through evolution; in algorithmic complexity theory, that simple rules iterated over time can produce unexpected new forms; or, in Durkheimian sociology, that out of the interaction of persons, social forms emerge that cannot be reduced to their component individuals, (just as the qualities of alloys are different from their component metals). So, too, we can ask whether the effects of lm, photography, the telegraph, telephone, television, and, now, the Internet on the global information environment parallel the changes that Karl Marx charted in the movement from tools to machines: emergence into larger cyborgian, actor-networks and material-semiotic modes of production with changed cultural presuppositions and calculi? A second, if related, notion of emergence is that of contested emergent forms of life, the continual renegotiation of historical and emergent modalities of ethical and political reason. This renegotiation comes, as Ludwig Wittgenstein once put it, from the fact that our reasons for action quickly run out and yet we must act. Further, those acts have serious consequences, leading to new social forms with moral concomitants that have noor, at best, only retrospectively constructedprecedents for justifying action. As ethnographers, we are privileged to watch the testing, demise, and survival of newly created social forms. There is, of course, a third related notion of emergent and new forms of life, the literal creation of small molecules that had no prior existence and that were never before experienced by any human or in vivo body before the application of molecular engineering (as explored by Sundar Rajan and Fortun and Fortun in this issue). Such creation of new forms of life provide some of the ethical and political contestations that contribute to the above notions of emergence and emergent forms of life, as well as to the need for understanding new ethical plateaus and deep play. Zhans eldwork was done only after the SARS crisis was declared over. Her data consists of some informants stories and a few newspaper articles after she arrived, and, later, more archival work in the print and web page media. In other words, the ethnographer herself is dipped into the circulatory ows, the provenance and effectivities of which ideally themselves should be tracked as a further means of reection on civets and Beckham, and as indices of media circuits, their spatial ranges, speculative velocities, and their uctuating rates of exchange or pricing. In this way, Zhan draws our attention to the neoliberal constructions of exoticism (marketing to foreigners of amboyant cuisine), selfdiscipline (BeckhamRonaldo as iconundisciplined), afuence (high-tech hospitals, proximity to world soccer stars, and ability to purchase domestically amboyant foods),

over the past decade have been unstable, as the federal appeals court system works through many lower district and circuit court decisions and lings of many different interest groups, under conditions of rapidly changing technologies. Together with legal, market, and social norm changes, this can dramatically shift relations of power and interests. The Supreme Court works best when it can review the various outcomes and interests in a differentiated terrain, rather than being called on to arbitrate rules without such groundwork. I call such terrains ethical plateaus, spaces in which multiple technologies interact; where ethics and politics cannot be reduced to two-person, zero-sum games; and where often incommensurable frames of reference come into play, involving irrational passions and fundamental commitments, as well as rational calculations.

SO WHAT IS NEW? THE NATURE OF EMERGENCE AND EMERGENT FORMS OF LIFE Mei Zhans (this issue) delightfully provocative juxtaposition of the SARS panic and the global tour of the Real Madrid football (soccer) team straddles, on the one hand, the narrative tactics of weak punning (consumption), exoticism, and temporal serendipity, and, on the other hand, more serious inquiry into new modalities of global circulation. What makes this juxtaposition t into the present technoscientic context is the connection with contemporary concerns of virology and immunology: SARS; recurrent strains of avian u that infect humans; primate and porcine retroviruses that, like HIV, might cause human pandemics either naturally or through xenotransplanation of organs; and airborne diseases resistant to a variety of drugs, such as the current epidemic of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Why these concerns should be juxtaposed to the celebrity, moneymaking tour of David Beckham and the Real Madrid team, Zhan argues, is because both provide windows into the operation of commodity and popular culture circulation. This includes what she calls visceral and discursive dimensions of reinscribing and recirculating Orientalist and celebrity tropes, driven both by consumerist excess and by repair of deprivation. Zhan points out that, temporally, the two phenomena belong together, as some of the proceeds of the celebrity tour were given to help recently aficted SARS victims. So what is different about the contemporary global circulations and those of earlier eras? How different in structure are the 1918 inuenza and the contemporary HIV/AIDS or SARS epidemics? How different are the understandings of the late 19th century about nance imperialism, overproduction, and underconsumption dynamics, on the one hand, and late-20th-century debates about renewed globalization, on the other hand? How different were the worldwide network of Pasteur Institutes in Tunisia, Iran, and Vietnam in the colonial era, and the contemporary multinational pharmaceutical industrys global prospecting for clinical trial populations? And nally, how different in circulatory structure and specular impetus for consumption

Fischer Technoscientic Infrastructures and Emergent Forms of Life and hysterical passions (panic about SARS and frenzy for Beckham). All that is solid does not simply melt into air but is transmuted. At issue is neither a confusion of the wild-domestic opposition nor even a classicatory logic of foods (ala Leviticus, Galen, or Levi-Strausss La pensee savage), but the expanding nature of companionate species with which homo sapiens coevolves. As wild animals become farmed for food (why not eventually snakes too), and the diets and health of these farmed animals are monitored and controlled, they become increasingly items of concern and resources of information for virology and immunology, and for our human biologies and epidemiologies. WHAT IS SO COMPLICATED? DEEP TOXIC PLAY If Zhan begins to track circulations of germs, viruses, panics, enthusiasms, and feedback loops of exoticising past and future identities, Timothy Choys (this issue) study of a dispute over dioxin-producing incinerators and waste disposal in Hong Kong investigates insecurities of land tenure, the circulation of consultancies, and the rootedness of toxic waste. Like Zhan, Choy is interested in the visceral, in how tropes of smell, sound, and sight located their discourse as more immediate . . . than government conceptions of jiliu [data]. The players are the environmental protection department; their expatriate planners; the departments consulting rm for which Choy initially worked; Greenpeace, which he subsequently helped and with which he identied; a U.S. consultant deployed by Greenpeace; and the villagers of Lung Kwu Tan and of Ha Pak Nai. Although a site-specic study, this case ts into a skein of environmental cases through the global circulation of the U.S. consultant and Greenpeace, through the environmental challenges for the Chinese state, and through the postWorld War II environmental movements around the globefrom the decades-long struggle of the victims of the Minimata catastrophe (George 2001) to Love Canal, Bhopal (Fortun 2001), and Baton Rouge, as well as less catastrophic local stories of ghts over incinerators and land lls (Crawford 1996). Choy is particularly interested in what Kim Fortun and Mike Fortun call enunciatory communities (as opposed to merely stakeholders). He uses Ernesto Laclau and Stuart Halls notion of doubled articulation (speaking, enrolling publics) as well as (in the context of contesting global consultants and local political deployments) linguistic attention to translation, pragmatics, and metapragmatics. Like Zhan, Choy is interested in the viscerality of discourse: tropes of smell, sound, and sight, and especially detailed accounts of embodied experience [which] seemed to contradict claims of knowing too much or having nothing to say, moments in which subjects recognized the limited power of what they knew. He poses and then solves the puzzle of why the villagers of Lung Kwu Tan initially seem so vulnerable to environmental injustice (toxics are often dumped on the poor) but are readily enrolled by Greepeace to ght the incinerator, whereas the nearby villagers of Ha


Pak Nai refuse to join the environmental protest or rock the political boat. It is the difference in tenure between those who were, at a certain historical point, designated indigenous owners and those who are merely renters on state land. They have quite different senses of legal empowerment, self-condence, and security. The landlls are lling up. What to do? Choy provides an analysis of the social situatedness of the different players, their rhetorical moves, the ironies of British expatriates arguing the localness of Hong Kong circumstances against U.S. expert opinion supporting environmental justice and cleaner disposal methods. We hear the fears of the Lung Kwu Tan villagers about dioxins and other adverse effects of the proposed incinerator, concerns supported by Greenpeace and the U.S. consultant (although perhaps not in that order of transitivity or priority of commitment). But what are the technical alternatives in play? How could alternative scenarios be mobilized? If the U.S. consultant has so many thousands of speaking engagements in so many countries, does he have experience in negotiating outcomes that prove acceptable to all, and how is this done? Here, worthy of study are the histories of other communities experiences and their cultivation of enunciatory capacities, at times requiring decades of persistence, as in the example of Minamata. Choy is correct to stress that it is not the technologies, per se, but the peopling of the technologies that is crucial to explore. But for new articulations to be made possible, the technological black box from initial planning to implementation must be pried open. At issue are powerful passions invested in illness, land, power, economic opportunities and costs, senses of justice, the differentials between what is mobile and circulatory (consultants, money, dioxins, and air pollution) and what is immobile and rooted (poisoned land and village histories), and what constitutes at any point in time the resources and institutional levers for organizing enunciatory communities, articulate goals, and politically viable strategies. One could well imagine a tournament of confrontations, as deeply overinvested (psychically, nancially, and statuswise) as any cockght but with larger stakes: between the planners and consultants of the department of environmental protection, on the one side, and, on the other side, Greenpeace, their U.S. consultant, and the more articulate villagers of Lung Kwu Tan. (The villagers of Ha Pak Nai watch and perhaps exercise inuence backstage with the expressive, embodied, and resisting tools of the relatively powerless, who must rely on the ner martial arts of leverage and indirection.) IS THERE STRUCTURAL CHANGE? EMERGENT BIOCAPITALISM With Kaushik Sunder Rajans article, we move from commodity circulation, showbiz extraction of surplus value from mass markets, and sale of expertise to localities and governments and turn to what are arguably new relations of production (e.g., patentability of biological molecules) and consumption (e.g., expansion of pharmaceutical markets by new tests and prophylactic drugs such as statins, for


American Anthropologist Vol. 107, No. 1 March 2005 gies and science of genomics (informatics, microarrays, high-throughput machines, and genetic proling) and the promises of pharmacogenomics (individualized therapies). Sunder Rajans ethnography, like that of Fortun and Fortuns, is inquisitive about the social choices involved in the directions these sciences and new technologies take. Use of the terminology of biocapitalism, biopolitics, and biosociality links the articles concerns to the vigorous discussions in other parts of anthropology, human rights organizations, medical anthropology, and political economy. These discourses have extended Michel Foucaults work on the emergence of new disciplines and discourses and Gilles Deleuzes conceptions of a gradual shift from societies of discipline to societies of control through codes and ows. The promissory and salvationary, or even soteriological, discourses of pharmacogenomics provide potentially productive cultural resources for differential understandings of how value rationalities (as opposed to economic or instrumental ones) might intervene in technoscientic arenas on the levels of motivation, ideology, and cultural shaping through advertising. There is a lovely little potential chemical synapse between Sunder Rajans pharmacogenetics and Fortun and Fortuns toxicogenomics: the Cytochome P-450 family of enzymes.6 These enzymes, located in the liver, are responsible for detoxifying dangerous inputs from the biosphere in the human body. Some are also important for metabolism in the body itself, as in making cholesterol bioacids. But for the development of oral or systemic drugs, the most important of these enzymes are the ve or six thought to be responsible for xenobiotic transformations (detoxifying outside inputs). These enzymes, equally critically, are involved in activating carcinogenic mutations. Unfortunately, medicinal chemistry for now is still almost entirely empirical, trial and error, a collection of ad hoc tricks and local rules (e.g., if you want to suppress hydroxylation, you might put a uorine on your compound somewhere, usually in the four position). With cloning and commercial availability of many of these enzymes, it is now possible to perform in vitro tests of potential drug compounds fairly early in the drug development process to see whether the compound is inhibiting the enzymes. Such tests provide a fairly good surrogate for in vivo trials of whether, in the body, the compound might metabolize the substrate or vice versa. Not only then are we at a junction between tracking down environmental stressors on the human body and learning about the chain reactions of metabolism inside the body but also at a junction of conversations between chemists and biologists, structural chemists and animal models, and informatics screening (against libraries of cDNA often held as proprietary by companies) and informatics searching (in both private and public databases with different access costs and authorization). Finally, we also nd ourselves at a junction between the strategy of oral and systemic drug delivery and that of targeted delivery to selective tissues (genetic engineering) or even regenerative medicine (stem cell research). The social complexity

markers of predisposition for illness among asymptomatic populations). Could these constitute the beginnings of at least an imagined and promissory new social formation (articulating several older modes of production)? And would such a new social formation change or exacerbate inequalities (gene-enhanced groups vs. old-model human beings, or just those with access to new medical technologies and those without)? Sunder Rajan takes a distributed (or multisited) knowledge system (biosciences, genomics) and explores its differential civics (or politics and political economy) in India and the United States. Biocapitalismwith its own cycles of overproduction and underconsumption dynamics is differently emergent in each national setting (different agendas, different mix of government, industry, and academic inputs), yet each country is only part of an uneven (hence dynamic) global terrain. As with Ulrich Becks (1992) work of the late 1980s, and Joseph Dumits (2004) recent work, Marxist categories are transmuted. Dumit speaks, for instance, of the production of surplus health, the turning of everyone into patients-in-waiting who can be put on drugs for life (statins are the current example par excellence, the drug that can improve everyones cholesterol levels and turn everyone into an ever expanding market for pharmaceutical marketing). Sunder Rajan focuses attention on the biopolitical uses of clinical trial populations in India (and elsewhere in the Third World), as well as middle-class populations of patients-in-waiting, which genomic proling will turn into ever more specic marketing niches and customized targets. Sunder Rajan draws particular attention to a new civics and politics of biology in the postcolonial world. India has resources of at least three sorts with which to enter these postcolonial, uneven terrains of transnational bioscience and biotechnology networks: rst, a pool of well-trained young scientists and technicians; second, the institutional drive on the part of both government and Indian pharmaceutical companies to create new forms of organization that can compete on the global stage and can also contribute locally to the development of domestic medical science resources; and third, populations that can be recruited easily for clinical trials (a competitive resource being mined globally). Sunder Rajan focuses on the promise of pharmacogenomics to eventually provide something like personalized medicine and, thereby, to also reshape the market dynamics of consumer and corporate behavior in the health care industry. The ventures of companies like Genomic Health and patient advocacy groups like PXE International signal the possibilities that enunciatory communities (an anthropologically more powerful concept than the bureaucratic concept of a stakeholder) can, in fact, shape research directions and markets for the benet of patients and individualsinstead of leaving them to the aggregating political economies of the search for billion dollar molecules. Sunder Rajans ethnographic work, like Fortun and Fortuns, includes an informed probing of the technolo-

Fischer Technoscientic Infrastructures and Emergent Forms of Life of these disciplinary and material biological exchanges and competitions is at a level of intricacy, infrastructural reach, and potential transformative power that explains why one might well hype or fear that we are moving into a new social formation of economic, political, scientic, and technological netting that is much ner and much more disseminated than anything previously in our purview. This is not only because of the descent into the microworlds of bits, atoms, and molecules but also, as Sunder Rajan stresses, because these nets depend on relations between deproletarianized textile laborers, contract clinical testing companies, national laboratories, export and import trade relations, and national and multinational pharmaceutical companies. The 19th-century world of machines, emergent mass politics, and global markets is now transmuted and intensied, their velocities increased, and the destruction reconstruction of relations of production and consumption ever more nely grained. It becomes increasingly important to think about how to organize enunciatory communities that allow the ends, which these new biosciences and biotechnologies make possible, to be channeled toward equitable, just, and legitimated outcomes. One may recall the recent case of the T4 (or CD4) cell. The 1993 switch from clinical- to laboratory-based denitions of AIDS (< 200 CD4 cells/mm3 plus HIV-positive antibody test) not only suddenly increased the size of the AIDS population but also initially angered HIV-positive patients and activists who felt that their experience of illness was being devalued by the objectifying laboratory tests. Later, as they contested clinical trial design, they promoted CD4 as surrogate markers for therapeutic management. As Keating and Cambrosio put it, T4 cells have entered the political arena (2003:9). WHERE IS THE CIVICS? ENUNCIATORY COMMUNITIES AND ETHICAL PLATEAUS Fortun and Fortuns article foregrounds a series of frames enunciative communities, informatics as experimental systems, care of data as public works, collaborative ethnographic work between scientists and anthropologists, and civic science as a combination of good science and ethical attention and carefor thinking through the emergence of toxicogenomics. These frames help make visible how toxicogenomics may become, as a new generator of scientic objects, part of new environmental health infrastructures, and possibly a bridge to a future, more physiologically informed, systems biology. Such a systems biology will depend on the emergence of technologies beyond microarrays and the databanks and informatics on which they depend. In earlier work on Bhopal, Kim Fortun (2001) explores the notion of enunciatory communities. Fortun and Fortun discuss the concept further, moving political discussions about technoscientic infrastructures out of the realm of stakeholder winnerloser power games within pregiven institutional contexts and into the realm of active creation of voice and strategy, of creating new kinds of stakeholders with new modes of accountability, and of new institution formationspecically, bringing the civic politics and dis-


tribution of costs and rewards into the spaces of persuasion, negotiation, litigation, civil protest, and legitimation. New epistemic objects are brought to visibility by largescale informatics. The varying of parameters and experimenting with data to make visible and formulate such epistemic objects also has built in it the danger that, downstream, the choices made in the building of the informatics systems may no longer be obvious or even visible to ordinary users. The civics retreats silently into the infrastructure. The choices that go into the construction of infrastructures, as nicely schematized by Lawrence Lessig (1999), are of four kinds: (1) the code or architecture (technology and engineering choices), (2) the market (costs and prices), (3) the law, and (4) social norms. All four of these modalities are tools of civic politics and ethical choices. Their intersecting points of choice and recurrent renegotiation, and critical deconstruction and reconstruction, form plateaus of ethical struggle in which decision making in one area affects constraints on choices in other parts of the playing eld or plateau. Thus, the complaints from those suffering rising cancer rates about current toxicological initiatives based on microarray data, databanks, and informatics can, if well organized, reopen the infrastructure to other choices. In this case, the problem is not only that, as of yet, we lack standardization of microarray platforms but also that, because people metabolize the same chemicals differently, we need better work on biomarkers, and because different populations have different rates of cancer, we need better association studies. Or, more generally, instead of relying on mechanical screens, reductionist techniques of nding causes, and genomic techniques of experimenting with genesthe functions of which we do not understand and the proteonomics of which we are only beginning to explorewe need a multicausal, integrative systems biology that can more directly deal with the interacting functions of in vivo physiological systems. Systems biology is a term that is popping up in various places, as of yet without a stable meaning, and it is quite exciting to see it emerging here, with grounding and multiple constituencies, in the interface between toxicogenomics, epidemiology, and approaches to personalized medicine. The constituencies are not only those of different disciplinary communities of bioscientists but also patient advocacy groups and environmental civic groups. The notion of care of data as public works is crucial here. It is an obvious ethical aspiration for biomedical and environmental scientists and engineers who wish to contribute to the good of society, as well as for patient groups, pure scientic researchers, and the public in general. But it is also contested ground in intellectual property law and in the market mechanisms on which we have come to rely to spur investment in innovation, particularly since the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 encouraging the commercialization of discoveries made in government and university labs. Putting databanks into the public domain with secure privacy, anonymity, integrity, and authorization protections is a daunting task, with a number of high-prole tests and


American Anthropologist Vol. 107, No. 1 March 2005 and biasing blinders. In todays high-speed electronic media world, effectivities depend as much on iterative ow, adaptability, and ubiquity in public spaces as any single statements veracity or validity. Zhan steps into multiple media circuits and cultural interef rances (Michel Serress felicitous pun on interferences e and inter-references: cultural associations in one language or culture interrupting, displacing, and rerouting meanings in the other). She explores these issues retrospectively through informants stories and newspaper articles: banquets, celebrity tours, impression management and public relations efforts, explanatory circuits about viral infections, and rhetorics of self-discipline using celebrity icons. It is these circuits that become the relays and switching points, displacing and transforming cultural meanings and social relations between classes, nations, and species, in turn affecting public health and epidemiological measures across the globe. Choy uses a particular site (Hong Kongs villages) as a portal to global circulation of consultants, planners, ideologies, and power relations. He not only gauges the effectivities of activists and planners vis-` -vis both their clients and a ostensive beneciaries but also probes to see if new articulatory communities can be coaxed into effective existence. The probe is both a descriptive tool and an experimental one as the ethnographer becomes engaged in the effort, suggesting ethnography as an experimental system, a turn of the screw on the older, less active, insideroutsider ethnographic role. Sunder Rajans probe itself travels globally, walking the rightrope against falling into a more active experimental instrument (refusing to join boards of companies he is studying) while acknowledging that the ethnographic gaze is a capital trade good and employee incentive for some of the players (see, even MIT is interested in what we are doing). From Boston to Washington, Palo Alto, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bombay, he probes different-sized, -resourced, and -incentivized portals to an emergent political economy of biocapitalism, each site with a very different constellation of enunciatory communities, business plans, and political loci: small start-ups in Silicon Valley, CA; a patient advocacy group in Massachusetts; genomics and pharmacogenomics companies in Silicon Valley and Rockville, MD; trade shows and scientic conferences in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, and Miami; government laboratories in Washington, DC, and Delhi; pharmaceutical companies; and clinical trial centers (see also Sunder Rajan 2002). In focus are business plans, promissory legal language, relations between hype and venture capital, due diligence and risk, public domain and proprietary knowledge as well as national agendas and changing relations between government, pharmaceutical industry, and biotech rms. It is the relations of production, marketing, and consumptionentitlements, rights (property, human, and social or cultural), social restratication, inequities, and justicethat constitute the emergent system more than just the molecules, kits, and medical drugs or therapeutic protocols.

contestations ongoing. The ethical terrain has implications for multiple spheres of social life, and, therefore, is often also passionate terrain, not just item-by-item problem solving as in older, networked infrastructures such as roads, telephones, or even the Internet. As the volatile debates over stem cell research and genetically engineered crops demonstrate, these ethical plateaus are not containable within national boundaries but have uneven, moebius-like, global topologies with accelerated feedback speed. CONCLUSION: RENEWED FORMS OF ETHNOGRAPHY We live (again) in an era of volatile emergent forms of life, sites of deep play, and ethical plateaus requiring renewed forms of ethnography. We need to go beyond slogans of multisitedness. We need to push into distributed infrastructures. We must look for enunciatory communities, rules of play, and sites of contestation. We need to pay attention to difculties of translation across multiple science and engineering communities, as well as to competitive team productions of new objects (molecules), tools (experimental systems), processes (patents and licenses), and care of data (public commons). We need to analyze how iterative ows of scientic facts and factoids are congured into logics and grammars, whose pragmatics and metapragmatic markers, blinders, limitations, and contradictions are industriously and productively sutured so as not to be visible (discourses, naturalized common sense, and streaming information from activist, state, and corporate broadcast media). The original notion of a multisited or multilocale ethnography in Anthropology as Cultural Critique (Marcus and Fischer 1999) was called forth by the challenges of comparative, cross-cultural, and polycentric analyses of phenomena. These were not only distributed spatially (such that any given site is not a microcosm but only part of larger systems) but also vertically (e.g., where the partial knowledge systems of different actors in a welfare system, from economists dealing with aggregate data to social workers dealing with practical contingencies, each complicating the work of the other, often falsifying each others insights, and introducing friction and incomprehension into the system). Anthropology has long since given up the perspective of binary logic (usthem, civilizedprimitive, Europe the rest, Christiansavage, developedunderdeveloped) and replaced it with new comparative methods, which constantly scan for difference, multiple voices, and knowledge sets. This linguistically and sociologically attentive crosscultural perspective of anthropology prepared the ethnographic method to scan for differences among occupation, expert, civic, consumer, entertainment, and educational cultures (not merely national, religious, or ethnic ones). Similarly, serious ethnographers have long abandonedat risk of being read as either ironic or naivethe rst discovery tropes of the 17th century. Instead, ethnographers situate themselves against ongoing streams of representations. Each representation or form of representation has its features and bugs, facilitating lenses

Fischer Technoscientic Infrastructures and Emergent Forms of Life Fortun and Fortuns ethnographic probes, similarly, peripatetically rove across the environmental health informatics plateaus from older-style chemical and ecological knowledge platforms to new experimental systems platformed on informatics databanks and simulation models. Fortun and Fortun move from Gordon conference to corporate laboratories, National Institutes of Health, and university laboratories, looking for the ways in which data sets are constituted, mined, massaged, abstracted, arrayed, anonymized, linked, and above all turned into something over which care and ethical attention can be directed by multiple enunciatory communities. There is a civics at the heart of this biology, environmental studies, and toxicology, not only linking the promise of customized health for individuals through pharmacogenomics, not merely connecting environmental, epidemiological, and clinical knowledges but also using the aspirations and citizen rights of enunciatory communities to enroll scientists, informatics researchers, ethnographers, mothers, and other caregivers in more robust polities. At issue, in all these articlesas well as between the lines and beyond their framesis the quintessential anthropological and ethnographic challenge to explore the peopling and reappropriation of technologies and knowledges in locally diverse ways. These include the continuing renegotiation of historical and emergent modalities of ethical and political reason. How interpretation works, symbolic resonances are mobilized, passions channeled, risks leveraged, and tools of market, legal, code, and social norms usedall these are constitutive of emergent technoscientic infrastructures, new forms of life, ethical plateaus, and civic political contests.


developedunderdeveloped) but, like most contemporary information matrices, a constantly comparative and difference scanning method. See also Conclusion: Renewed Forms of Ethnography. 3. The phrasing alludes to the literature on ethics surrounding the work of Emmanuel Levinas. The obligation to respond to the demand of the other does not depend only on what he or she asks for but also what can be seen in his or her face, and particularly in his or her otherness. On the ethical demands of cross-species otherness and of not reducing the other to the sameas in treating pets as childrensee Haraway 2003. 4. On material-semiotic objects, see Haraway 1997. 5. See Wittgenstein, On Certainty (1991). 6. Thanks to Brian Seed for clarifying the role of these enzymes.

Beck, Ulrich 1992[1986] Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Mark Ritter, trans. New York: Sage. Crawford, Colin 1996 Uproar at Dancing Rabbit Creek: Battle over Race, Class, and the Environment. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Dumit, Joseph 2004 Drugs for Life: Managing Health and Identity through Facts and Pharmaceuticals. Paper presented to the Joint Meetings of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology and the Society for the Social Study of Science, Paris, August 2004. Fischer, Michael M. J. 2003 Emergent Forms of Life and the Anthropological Voice. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Fortun, Kim 2001 Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disasters, New Global Orders. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. George, Timothy 2001 Minamata: Power, Policy, and Citizenship in Postwar Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Haraway, Donna 1997 Modest Witness@Second Millenium.FemaleMan c Meets TM OncoMouse : Feminism and Technoscience. New York: Routledge. 2003 The Companion Species. Chicago: Prickly Pear Press. Keating, Peter, and Alberto Cambrosio 2003 Biomedical Platforms: Realigning the Normal and the Pathological in Late-Twentieth Century Medicine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Lessig, Lawrence 1999 Code and other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic Books. Marcus, George, and Michael M. J. Fischer 1999[1986] Anthropology as Cultural Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sunder Rajan, Kaushik 2002 Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life. Ph.D. dissertation, Program in Science, Technology and Society, MIT. Wittgenstein, Ludwig 1991 On Certainty. G. E. M. Anscombe and G. H. von Wright, eds. Denis Paul and G. E. M. Anscombe, trans. San Francisco: Arion Press.

M ICHAEL M. J. F ISCHER Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Department of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 NOTES
1. On market, law, code, and norms as a matrix of design tools for internet technologies, see Lessig 1999. 2. For an expansion on anthropology working in third spaces, deep play, and ethical plateaus, see Fischer 2003. Anthropologys comparative method has long been no longer a binary logic (usthem, civilizedprimitive, Europethe rest, Christiansavage,