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A Cosmopolitical Proposal: Towards a Democratic Composition of Environments
Unformatted Document Text:  28 by creating “rhizomatic prolongations,” that is, extended networks of relations among previously contradicting practices to achieve a provisionally settled coexistence among these practices. These humans must build links and connections among themselves and the things that animate them, in turn creating or altering links among the environments that are represented, in order to achieve any sort of resolution of a problem. Yet this restriction upon the Parliament diminishes the radicality of the politics that Latour initiated in We Have Never Been Modern, returning to a relatively conventional notion of a parliament that has only human MPs. While humans are understood to exist differently in the Parliament, connected into larger environments that animate them about particular questions, Stengers’ refocusing of our attention on the human practices that go into Parliamentary proceedings falls back on the same categories and assumptions that the Parliament was convened to get around, as far as the liberal requirements of preformed subjects that can participate in well- defined ways. This is a significant difference between Latour’s project, which in part seeks to understand the actions of nonhuman entities as symmetrical with the action of humans, and Stengers’ attempts to rethink the role of science in politics and the truth-claiming capabilities of the sciences. With Stengers, the Parliament of Things becomes a parliament of humans that do not recognize the long-standing nature-society divisions and have a relatively environmentally- oriented agenda. Rather than fundamentally rethinking what a parliament inhabited by things would look like, Stengers attaches things to people and hopes the problems and concerns that they represent will be sufficiently compelling to achieve a negotiated resolution among the many participants and their constituents. A corollary of this attempt to retain humans as the central actors in the Parliament is her discussion of the role of expertise in the Parliament. Stengers calls for the production and

Authors: Nordquist, Michael.
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28
by creating “rhizomatic prolongations,” that is, extended networks of relations among previously
contradicting practices to achieve a provisionally settled coexistence among these practices.
These humans must build links and connections among themselves and the things that animate
them, in turn creating or altering links among the environments that are represented, in order to
achieve any sort of resolution of a problem.
Yet this restriction upon the Parliament diminishes the radicality of the politics that
Latour initiated in We Have Never Been Modern, returning to a relatively conventional notion of
a parliament that has only human MPs. While humans are understood to exist differently in the
Parliament, connected into larger environments that animate them about particular questions,
Stengers’ refocusing of our attention on the human practices that go into Parliamentary
proceedings falls back on the same categories and assumptions that the Parliament was convened
to get around, as far as the liberal requirements of preformed subjects that can participate in well-
defined ways. This is a significant difference between Latour’s project, which in part seeks to
understand the actions of nonhuman entities as symmetrical with the action of humans, and
Stengers’ attempts to rethink the role of science in politics and the truth-claiming capabilities of
the sciences. With Stengers, the Parliament of Things becomes a parliament of humans that do
not recognize the long-standing nature-society divisions and have a relatively environmentally-
oriented agenda. Rather than fundamentally rethinking what a parliament inhabited by things
would look like, Stengers attaches things to people and hopes the problems and concerns that
they represent will be sufficiently compelling to achieve a negotiated resolution among the many
participants and their constituents.
A corollary of this attempt to retain humans as the central actors in the Parliament is her
discussion of the role of expertise in the Parliament. Stengers calls for the production and


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