A congress of the world



Publication Details

Castree, N. (2006). A congress of the world. Science As Culture, 15 (2), 159-170.


Bruno Latour is a career subversive. Iconoclasm is his creed, dissent the beating heart of all his writings. For over three decades he has made a virtue of disputing what, in his view, passes for 'common sense' within and beyond the sciences. He is one of our great debunkers, and in Politics of Nature his voice remains as idiomatic and incorrigible as it did when an English-speaking audience first encountered it in the late 1970s. The book crowns a canon of commanding weight. It is the fifth of his single authored texts to be translated into English and confirms his status as more than a 'mere' science studies scholar. Unlikely as it no doubt seemed when the germinal Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) was published, Latour's serried writings have resonated far beyond the once obscure sub-field in which he first made his name. This is no accident, of course. Latour has self-consciously used his status as a pioneering science studies scholar to reach a much wider readership spanning the humanities and social sciences. This was most obvious in We Have Never Been Modern (1993), where he employed a constitutional metaphor to expose the contingency and non-necessity of the foundational assumptions that organize thought and practice in the Western world. Over a decade on, it is equally obvious in Politics of Nature, where Latour undertakes the no-less (im)modest task of drafting a new constitution for a democracy yet to come.

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