CFP – Cases of Breakdowns (Techniques&Culture 72)

While STS and the sociological work of organizations have taken up the theme of breakdown, this call for contributions aims to decompartmentalize the field by questioning the place of breakdown in both contemporary and past societies. Despite Claude Lévi-Strauss’ famous warning that “To say that societies function is trivial, but to say that everything in a society is functional, is absurd” (1958: 17), historians and anthropologists have long tended to describe societies of the past or distant cultures as perfect technical worlds, without failures and without waste. Such a posture is no longer tenable today: how can we imagine a society where blowguns would never get blocked? Where the astronomical clock of a cathedral would never break down? A windmill where no parts should be changed? Whether medieval or Bororo, the “primitives” on all sides come knocking at the door of “modernity” to claim their right to break down.

In this issue, we are looking for new and refreshing insights to observe and analyze breakdowns, intentional or not, artifactual and/or bodily through three themes developed in the full CFP to download on T&C’s blog. Visit our website for more information.

The journal’s editorial guidelines can be downloaded here or received from the editorial team via

Authors should get in touch with this issue’s coordinators, Nicolas Nova et Mathilde Bourrier, through the journal’s sub-editor ( to submit their project (title and summary, draft iconography) with their name, contact details and affiliation, by the 30 November 2018.

Selected contributors will be invited to a meeting at the Mucem in Marseille (France), by the 30 January 2019.

Proposals and full articles can be submitted in French or English. The hard copy will be published in French but online papers may be published in English.

Call for papers

Deadline: November 30, 2018

Posted: November 20, 2018