This book demonstrates how and why vitalism - the idea that life cannot be explained by the principles of mechanism - matters now. Vitalism resists closure and reductionism in the life sciences whilst simultaneously addressing the object of life itself. The aim of this collection is to consider the questions that vitalism makes it possible to ask: questions about the role and status of life across the sciences, social sciences and humanities and questions about contingency, indeterminacy, relationality and change. All have special importance now, as the concepts of complexity, artificial life and artificial intelligence, information theory and cybernetics become increasingly significant in more and more fields of activity.
For a long time I have had two main areas of research interest: sociology of culture and feminist theory. My contributions to a sociology of culture draw upon the findings of a series of funded empirical research projects, exploring contemporary developments in the culture industry with a special focus on changing cultural forms. Following the publication of the jointly authored book on The Global Culture Industry: The Mediation of Things (with Lash, Polity, 2007), I am developing my research interest in the question of cultural change through my participation in a 20-partner EU-funded interdisciplinary network on 'A Topological Approach to Cultural Dynamics'. This network - which draws on recent developments in philosophy and mathematical thinking to address questions of cultural and social change, space and intensity - is part of what has been called a topological turn in cultural theory. My ideas on what this might mean are developed in recent and forthcoming publications including the Introduction to a Special Issue of the European Journal of Social Theory on 'What is the empirical?', co-edited with Lisa Adkins and an article on 'Brands as assemblage: assembling culture' to appear in the journal Cultural Economy (forthcoming). It will also inform the book (co-edited with Nina Wakeford) on Inventive Methods, (Routledge). I continue to be interested in brands and branding (Brands: the logos of the global cultural economy, 2004 as I have found them illuminating objects to think with as well as problematic objects to live with/out. I am enthusiastic about the new MA in Brands, Communication and Culture that is just starting at Goldsmiths (organised by Dr Liz Moor in Media and Communications, but with the involvement of myself and others in Sociology). My contributions to feminist theory primarily concern the issue of gender as a kind of becoming (Prosthetic Culture, Feminism and Autobiography) and the changing significance of gender as a social and natural category (Global Nature, Global Culture). I have participate in the annual conferences and workshops linked to the MA Gender, Culture and Media.
Inventive Life - Mariam Fraser, Sarah Kember and Celia Lury Approaches to the New Vitalism On the Vitality of Vitalism - Monica Greco Information and Knowledge - Suhail Malik Pharmaceutical Matters - Andrew Barry, The Invention of Informed Materials The Performativity of Code - Adrian Mackenzie Software and Cultures of Circulation 'Contemplating a Self-portrait as a Pharmacist' - Celia Lury A Trade Mark Style of Doing Art and Science The New Economy, Property and Personhood - Lisa Adkins Computing the Human - N Katherine Hayles Metamorphoses - Sarah Kember The Myth of Evolutionary Possibility Making Music Matter - Mariam Fraser