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Social Anthropology

Behaviour - between humans, animals and objects


Debates around ‘the agency of objects’ have occupied the humanities and social sciences for some time now. This chapter, by contrast, raises the symmetrical question of the objectivity of action. My focus will be on ‘behaviour’ – action itself taken as an object.The concrete setting for this discussion is an ongoing ethnographic study of the world of behavioural ecology, and specifically of one research site in the South African desert called the Kalahari Meerkat Project. More specifically still, I will be examining one particular technical object – a handheld computer – which is used in data collection at this site, and which, I will argue, is centrally involved in the way behavior emerges as a scientific object. This chapter was published as Candea M. 2013. Objects made out of action, in P. Harvey, Casella E.C., Evans G., Knox H., McLean C., Silva E.B., Thoburn N. & Woodward K. (ed.) Objects and Materials Companion: London: Routledge.

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