1999 volume 31(6) pages 1047 – 1071

Cite as:
Laurier E, Philo C, 1999, "X-morphising: review essay of Bruno Latour's Aramis, or the Love of Technology" Environment and Planning A 31(6) 1047 – 1071

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X-morphising: review essay of Bruno Latour's Aramis, or the Love of Technology

E Laurier, C Philo

Received 16 July 1998; in revised form 10 December 1998

Abstract. An extended review is presented of Bruno Latour's book Aramis, or the Love of Technology (Harvard University Press, 1996). Attention is paid to the textual style and strategies in the book, and also to how it fits in with, and exemplifies, many of the more abstract claims central to Latour's actor-network theory. In particular, consideration is given to the provocative arguments in the book about the status of nonhuman beings in social-scientific research, and to the specific manoeuvre whereby Aramis, this transportation project which never quite made it from being an idea to being a completed object, is accorded agency -- and even a voice -- in the text. The 'x-morphising' which underpins Aramis in this respect is examined, and is subsequently criticised for a flattening out of agency which permits humans and nonhumans to be regarded as 'social' equivalents. Although attracted to Latour's radical emancipation of nonhuman things from a social-scientific netherworld, we nonetheless conclude by worrying about the flat and undifferentiated 'spatial imaginary' at the heart of what he is attempting to do for actors of all kinds in Aramis.

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