I heard Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s question at the final AIME conference, “What do we do when we stop pretending?”, as a call to get rid of the pervasive metaphor of diplomacy and negotiation that seriously weakens AIME, both theoretically and practically. There is after all no real diplomacy in AIME, and the repeated mises-en-scène of diplomatic negotiations can only be harmful to the inquiry in the long term, even if in the short run they may have a pedagogical utility.
It was also a call to leave behind metaphorical empiricism and to engage in, or with, real empirical research. There is in fact very little of the empirical in AIME, which is not necessarily a fault, if the misleading self-descriptions can be replaced by more accurate ones. The system of “contributions” is not an empirical system as only confirmations were accepted, and falsifications were excluded.
Luckily, AIME gave rise to a plurality of relations to its its corpus and pursuit, that could not be contained in the over-constrained model of “contributions” that Latour’s original intentions, and the very structure of the AIME platform, tended to impose. Some of the most active participants were not active contributors but rather “fellow-travelers”, and this unforeseen phenomenon should not be regarded as an undesirable negative result, but rather as a positive response.
As in the Avignon Arts Festival, some of the most interesting responses were in the AIME-off or AIME-out class, and some of the worst were AIME-in (I am thinking of a particularly hideous contribution on the reality of fairies). Is this at all surprising?
For a glimpse into the AIME-out/AIME-in dialectic see Joachim Thomsen and Thomas Nylrup’s study “AIME Perceptions and Experiences”. It was AIME-out that gave pluralism and democracy to what would otherwise have been a hierarchical collective experiment in close reading.