Network vs. ecology

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“Networks speak of particular ways of relating that of drawing lines of connection between one point and other, leaving however countless spaces as background for their agency flows. Agency and power are indeed distributed, yet all but evenly. We must always remember, in Star’s words, that a stabilised network  –  and thus a ‘successful’ one – is only stable for those who are ‘members’ –  involving often the privatisation of pain for those who are not standard members, or non members at all. An ecology, by contrast, evokes a site of intensities, synergies and symbiotic processes within relational compounds. Ecological circulation functions in cyclic interdependent ways rather than extensive. […] The dominant existential drive of ecology is not so much to extend itself but to hold together resilient relationships […].”

Puig de la Bellacasa, M., forthcoming. Ecological thinking and materialist spirituality: thinking the poetics of soil ecology with Susan Leigh Star, in: Bowker, Clarke, Timmermans (Eds.), Boundary Objects and Beyond: Working with Leigh Star. MIT Press, CA/Massachussets.