As many authors remarked, “technology” has struggled to find its place, as a proper field of enquiry, in mainstream anthropology, in spite of both a long and prestigious lineage. This paradoxical situation could well be stemming from the position of the concept of “technology” as a meta-category which, like “society” or “nature”, “essentialises” the very phenomena it wishes to describe.
Building on the different traditions, this paper attempts to investigate whether, by taking seriously its nature of emic meta-category, one can demonstrate the crucial position of the anthropology of technics in contemporary debates and concerns, in parallel to an anthropology of technology.
Dr Ludovic Coupaye is a lecturer in the UCL Department of Anthropology Material Culture Group and is curator of the department’s ethnographic collection. His main interests so far have focussed on the study of the relationships between people and things through two related angles: techniques and arts, especially in the Pacific area (mainly Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australia). This implies investigating knowledge, materials and skills as well as addressing dimensions such as rituals and aesthetics in relation to social dynamics and environment.