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“An Electronic Buzzer is Laughing”:

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Abstract:

Although anthropologists were intimately involved at all stages of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Conferences on Cybernetics (1946-1953), both their influence on the conferences as well as the influence of cybernetics upon anthropological theorizing remain unclear--perhaps even purposefully so. This paper takes up the question of this suppression from different perspectives in order to: 1) recognize the beginning of second-order cybernetics in those first conferences; 2) reflect on the anthropological dimensions of the Macy Conferences considered as cybernetic systems; and 3) utilize these reflexive insights upon the Conferences to gesture to new and emergent directions in anthropological research today. (Re)inserting the anthropological in those initial formulations of cybernetics means, in the end, recognizing the anthropological possibilities in second- order cybernetics, possibilities which promise to re-draw both anthropologist and anthropological object.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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