Rachel Douglas-Jones (ITU Copenhagen): On Form: Bureaucracy, Ethics and Aesthetics
virtual public lecture @TUD, September 1, 2021, 5-7pm
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Abstract: What can attention to form do for ethnographic research into bureaucratic regimes? Drawing on ten years of research with ethics committees and ethics NGOs across the Asia-Pacific region, as they seek to ‘build capacity’ in ethical review, I explore why thinking with form is generative for scholars of bureaucracy and the everyday. While my enquiries are predominantly concerned with knowledge forms, the materialization of bureaucratic form is present and proximate. Working through moments of negotiation and closure, I am interested particularly in two questions of the politics of form: First, how do some knowledge forms come to be considered appropriate, persuasive and desirable? Second, how can a focus on form produce an aesthetic supportive of certain displacements of content? As ethics committee members strive to improve, convene and present themselves to auditors in my ethnography, a broader question emerges:
how does form participate in global regimes of accountability?