John Law
John Law

I’ve never met John Law, but my pursuit of a more in-depth understanding of Latour’s scholarship eventually (and almost inevitably) led me to him. Along with Michael Callon and Bruno Latour–but also, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, Michel Serres–John Law is one of the originators of and early spokespersons for Actor-Network Theory (aka. ANT), and he remains an active contributor to ANT, but also post-ANT, scholarship. For a long time he helped establish and maintain a online database for the early, seminal ANT publications. The Lancaster University-based site is still active and very useful for those interested in this approach to scholarship.

…philosophy is best thought of as a source of possible insights. Indeed, if we look at it in this way, then it is not very far removed from fieldwork materials. It becomes a set of specificities, a collection of possible resources, an aid to thinking, and a set of sensitising suggestions.

– JOHN LAW, Notes on Fish, Ponds and Theory (2012)

I’ve found Law to be a wonderful guide to the ideas of Latour, as well as source of highly originally thinking in his own right. One of my favorite Law articles is his, “On the Methods of Long Distance Control: Vessels, Navigation and the Portuguese Route to India” (1986), but a close second would be his “Making a Mess with Method” (2006) and his “Notes on Fish, Ponds and Theory” (2012). His most recent edited work, Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque (2016), is one that I’m currently exploring and digesting.

Place of Work | The Open University – UK (retired)
Title | Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology
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