“Drawing uncertain lines. Certitude and contingency in brain tractography and visual ethnography.”

“Drawing uncertain lines. Certitude and contingency in brain tractography and visual ethnography.”


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“In this paper, I will present preliminary results of my ethnography within Thomas Picht’s team around the Digital Twin project, regarding the implementation of a brain mapping method in the local infrastructure at the University Hospital of Charité. I will first briefly present functional tractography and the way it is taught and communicated. I will then present the concerns of the team and their course of action to establish this practice in the field of neurosurgical planning. Why don’t surgeons adopt this method more quickly and massively? How can we reconcile the statistical operations generating the 3D images with the professional experience condensed in the surgeon’s gesture? In order to explain the difficulties in establishing a link between the activity of the scientist and the activity of the practitioner, I will borrow the concepts of the “quest for certainty” (Dewey 1929) and that of the “necessity of contingency” (Meillassoux, 2008). I will also show how my own activity as an ethnographic sketcher allows me to access another understanding of the observed situation related to the “life of lines” (Ingold 2015). Finally, I will present the various projects underway within my team at the cluster “Matters of Activity” which will provide a more concrete response to these questions.”

Maxime will circulate the draft in due time prior to the session. If you are interested in reading the piece, please contact Maxime directly: maxime.le.calve@hu-berlin.de.

The presentation will be commented on by Petra Beck.