Fun in Go: The Timely Delivery of a Monkey Jump and its Lingering Relevance to Science Studies

Philippe Björn Sormani

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This paper offers an ethnomethodological exploration of fun in Go (the ancient board game), the timely delivery of a ‘Monkey Jump’ (a particular move in Go), and its lingering relevance to science studies (where Go has provided an early analogy for laboratory work). In Go terms, the paper makes a ‘pincer’ move: on the one hand, it explores the analytic potential of ‘fun’ for ethnographic purposes and, on the other hand, it questions its manifest abandonment in some quarters of science studies. In particular, the paper challenges their “curious seriousness” (Garfinkel in Réseaux Hors Sér 8(1):69–78, 1990) whenever grand ontological claims are mixed up with suspended empirical inquiry. That said, the latter criticism does not take the form of a scholarly exercise in conceptual clarification, but remains part and parcel of the author’s ethnography of playing amateur Go, including his dealing with and delivery of a Monkey Jump and reading of Go literature and replaying of professional games (as most amateurs do). The key point of the paper, then, is to demonstrate the heuristic interest of adopting a practitioner’s stance, not only for understanding a technical domain such as Go in its own terms (Livingston in Ethnographies of reason, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2008), but also for launching a phenomenological critique of analytic discretion in science studies. Therefore, the second part of the paper re-examines, from an amateur Go player’s stance, Latour and Woolgar’s Go analogy in and for Laboratory Life (1979, 1986a)—an early exemplar of science studies’ ontological bent.

Seiten (von - bis)281-308
FachzeitschriftHuman Studies: A Journal for Philosophy and the Social Sciences
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 1 Juni 2015

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