In June 2004, Rabinow and two former students set up what was to become the Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory. The core aim was to create venues in which three kinds of collaborative work could be facilitated: (1) collaborative projects of field inquiry, (2) collaborative concept work between anthropologists working on heterogeneous yet interconnected problems and practices, and (3) collaborative seminars in which the deficiencies of the reigning modes of subjectivation in the elite academy’s graduate student seminars could be recast, remediated, and experimented with, by priming an affect of both seriousness and pleasure.
As a form for conducting collaborative inquiry, the anthropology of the contemporary was designed to equip its participants with the ability to connect knowledge forms, norms of practice, and a mode of existence. We undertook this experiment in order to create and nourish intellectual work and an ethos of flourishing. We take up the term “work” in the sense given to it by Foucault:
Work: “That which is susceptible of introducing a significant difference in the field of knowledge, at the cost of a certain difficulty for the author and the reader, with, however, the eventual recompense of a certain pleasure, that is to say of access to another figure of truth.”
By June 2018, each of these three venues had been actively blocked and thwarted in different ways. In the chronicle, an apologia, we narrate both the blockages as well as the many productive phases and successes of the endeavor.