OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
When I was in school I studied the cognitive and reading practices of research scientists, as well as their networks of mutual influence. I used citation patterns as one of my data sources, so I too relied on postmodern text theory and the social studies of science to inform my work.
I agree that the agency of inanimate objects is problematic. I’ve gotten to know the work of Graham Harman and Levi Bryant, a couple of contemporary continental philosophers (though both are American) who are inventing something they call “object-oriented ontology.” Latour figures prominently in their theories of causality and agency.
I’ve been reading a superb book entitled Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation, 2007 by Eyal Weizman. Weizman describes in detail how the Israeli government and military have manipulated physical space to achieve and maintain dominance over the Palestinians. He notes the irony of Israeli military intelligence invoking Deleuze, Bataille, Debord, Agamben, and other theorists of the left for hegemonic purposes. Networks, swarms, deterritorialization, lines of flight: post-structural tactics proposed for poking holes in a dominant social order can also be used, and to better effect, to break up resistances. The master is using the slave’s tools against him, as it were. It’s clear that inanimate features like borders, walls, roads, checkpoints, hilltops, and so on have effects on human lives, but it’s also clear that human agents design and counteract these effects.