Events in Russia

2024 forthcoming events

20 April, The Moscow School of Social and

Economic Sciences (MSSES), Moscow

“Aginst Method”: Towards an Anthropology of Imagination

Format: academic panel with online and offline participation

Timezone: GMT+3, Moscow

Chairs of the panel: Vladimir Kartavtsev (MSSES), Varvara Grechukhina (MSSES)

The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes”, – writes Paul Feyerabend, calling for an epistemological anarchism that should destroy the established rationalistic premises of science and its monism, problematizing the entrenched canon, its inherent method and language. Feyerabend's call has two main premises: (1) the world is extremely uncertain, which means the need to be open to it; (2) fixed dispositions and blind adherence to them fetters the movement of the mind, imputing a fixed institutional tradition to the agents of cognition. Feyerabend argues for the need to develop a method that would be sensitive to uncertainty and adapted to grasp the elusive, calling for attention to the “world of dreams” and the invention of descriptive languages that strive beyond the perceptual world. Moreover, he argues that the creation of a new conceptual model can and should require the use of methodological principles from extra-scientific knowledge systems.

Almost 30 years after Paul Feyerabend's text appeared, the tradition of STS research, in particular the theoretical effort of John Law and his academic associates, would give the world of social research the concept of enacting. Methods are performative: they do not simply describe realities but create ontologies. However, recognizing the performativity of method leads researchers into an inconceivable number of locales: what to engage and at what point; what reality to enact? Moreover, this shift requires the emergence of new methodological languages that are attentive to complexities, ill-defined events, affects, allegories, poetics, partiality and disconnection – that is, to draw on resources of the imagination that, if they have been used before, have not been adequately reflected upon.

Where to look for resources for such imagination? Law and Urry do not give an answer, and in this sense the panel is a joint search and assembly of additional methodological perspectives. Making a point to at least two attempts to establish an alternative to the scientific method, we, on the one hand, propose to historicize it and understand what alternatives were proposed between the mentioned periods and contemporary reality; and on the other hand, turn to the potential of artistic, mythological, indigenous and other scientifically related languages that overcome the boundaries of method.

The following set of topics is proposed for discussion:

  Against method, after method, without method: towards imagination of possible methodologies;

  What valency do related sociological and/or anthropological languages for describing reality have?

  What are the theoretical and methodological resources of these related languages, which of them can be “connected” to describe social realities?

  What is the place of artistic thinking within the language of science?

  What is imagination, understood as a methodological setting?

  How is epistemological resistance possible and what are its institutional preconditions?

  Animistic thinking, thinking from within myth and indigenous epistemologies: how does “linguistic justice” work?


Please get in touch with Vladimir Kartavtsev at  if you are considering online participation.