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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important message
I'd like to counterbalance the previous reviewer's rather disparaging assessment. After having read `Lines' and `Being Alive' with great interest, I wasn't at all disappointed by Ingold's latest book. Quite the contrary, `Making' struck me as a very rich and satisfying critique of the objectivist epistemology and technocratic ethos that underpins much of knowledge...
Published 13 months ago by Philippe Vandenbroeck

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very disappointing book
In the past Tim Ingold has written some important and highly insightful texts. However, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that he is publishing too much and spending too little time thinking through what are in danger of becoming thin, even facile, arguments. I had anticipated that Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture would present a...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important message, 30 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture (Paperback)
I'd like to counterbalance the previous reviewer's rather disparaging assessment. After having read `Lines' and `Being Alive' with great interest, I wasn't at all disappointed by Ingold's latest book. Quite the contrary, `Making' struck me as a very rich and satisfying critique of the objectivist epistemology and technocratic ethos that underpins much of knowledge production today.

The critique operates at different levels. Its opening gambit is a prima facie plea to save the discipline of anthropology from a collapse into the documentary thrust of ethnography. Ingold sees the former as a transformational "space for generous, open-ended comparative yet critical enquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life". Ethnography merely turns `participant observation' into `qualitative data' that are to be analysed in terms of an exogenous body of theory. These are fundamentally different, antithetical ways of knowing. Ingold's argument is a call to deepen our knowledge of the world from the inside, as fellow travellers, as co-producers with other beings and things that command our attention. Knowing, therefore, is `understanding in practice'. It is inextricably meshed with `making' as an active engagement with the material world.

Here the central theme of the book emerges. We are used to think of making as a `project', with a rather precise idea in mind of what we like to produce (a plan, a design) and a supply of materials to achieve it. Ingold contrasts this `hylomorphic' model with a `morphogenetic' approach that enacts making as a contingent process of growth. Making becomes a process of entering "the grain of the world's becoming and bend it to an evolving purpose". The author goes on to demonstrate the power and relevance of the morphogenetic approach in a revealing series of case studies centering on very different `things and beings' drawn from the realms of anthropology, archeology, art and architecture (`the four A's'). These include ancient utensils such as paleolithic handaxes, quasi-natural landscape features such a prehistoric mounds and technical, complex artefacts such as watches and cathedrals. Ingold wields the morphogenetic perspective as a conceptual lever to unearth layers upon layers of very rich and surprising insights. On this journey he sides with intellectual allies such as Deleuze and Guattari, Richard Sennett, Vilem Flusser, Gregory Bateson and the paleontologist André Leroi-Gourhan (to name just a few).

The relevance of Ingold's argument goes beyond the already expansive territory encapsulated by the four A's. From my perspective it connects seamlessly with recent (and not so recent) insights in decision-making theory, in management, foresight and transition studies and in soft systems approaches. On the other hand it seems that the epistemology defended by Ingold is a radical critique of the kind of `hard' systems thinking that is sought after by decision-makers who are increasingly taxed by the savage unruliness of the world unfolding beyond their boardroom doors. This kind of `joined-up thinking' Ingold considers to be "a friend of reason but an enemy of sentience".

Apart from the cogency of an argument that is very difficult to do justice in a brief review, it seems to me this book has a number of qualities that enhance the reading experience. Despite its richness it is a slim volume (a mere 140 pages) and therefore doesn't impose undue claims on time-pressed readers. Ingold's prose is, as always, carefully groomed and accessible without being condescending. Also, I relished the appositeness of the carefully chosen references, which provide opportunities for engaging follow-up study (Lars Spuybroek's `Architecture of Continuity' and David Turnbull's `Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers' to name but two of my personal favourites). Altogether this is an important book that I'd like to emphatically recommend to the intellectually curious, whatever their disciplinary background.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A very disappointing book, 4 April 2013
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This review is from: Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture (Paperback)
In the past Tim Ingold has written some important and highly insightful texts. However, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that he is publishing too much and spending too little time thinking through what are in danger of becoming thin, even facile, arguments. I had anticipated that Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture would present a radical rethinking of the relationship between these disciplines related to Ingold's important insights into "meshwork". It does not. While it would not be fair to describe it simply as a book promoting an area of interdisciplinary teaching - the 4 As - at Aberdeen university, there are times when it comes uncomfortably close to that. The increasing slightness of Ingold's engagement with the complexity of the topics on which he pronounces so readily can be illustrated by a simple example. He dismisses as "unsuccessful" those few "collaborations between anthropologists and arts practitioners that have taken place", but makes an exception for the work of Schneider and Wright. Yet these authors are notable for having entirely neglected to recognise the importance of Kandinsky as the first Modernist painter to make a real contribution to Anthropology and to build a very substantive body of work on his own ethnographic field work.

This is not to say that the book is bereft of insight, it is not. But it feels lightweight in comparison with his best work (most of which had been published by the turn of
the century). At a time when we are in desperate need of what Guattari calls 'ecosophical thinking' - something that Ingold is eminently able to advance -it is particularly sad that he can produce what, to be honest, reads pretty much like a potboiler.
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Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture
Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture by Tim Ingold (Paperback - 21 Mar 2013)
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