Making visible a collage of radical scientists and critics

“Making visible a collage of radical scientists and critics”
presented at “Science for the People: The 1970s and Today,” http://science-for-the-people.org/

Practice run of talk: http://youtu.be/6LPm_BlV5iY

Visual aids

Rapid intertwined history of Science and Technology Studies in relation to Science for the People: http://youtu.be/KD_jtpmarfE

Timeline from 2-minute survey: http://bit.ly/sftptime and as spreadsheet

References: 

  • Akera, A. (2006). Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers, and Computers During the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Arditti, R. (1999). Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plazo de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Haraway, D. J. (1980). “Monkey Business: Monkeys and Monopoly Capital.” Radical Science Journal 10: 107-114.
  • Harvey, D. (1995). “Militant particularism and global ambition: The conceptual politics of place, space, and environment in the work of Raymond Williams.” Social Text 42: 69-98.
  • Hobsbawm, E. (2011). How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Moore, K. (2006). “Powered By the People: Scientific Authority in Participatory Science”. Pp. 299-323 in The New Political Sociology of Science: Organizations, Networks, and Institutions. S. Frickel and K. Moore (Eds.) Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Moore, K., D. L. Kleinman, et al. (2011). “Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach.” Theory & Society 40: 505–532.
  • Taylor, P. J. (1986). “Dialectical Biology as Political Practice. An essay review of R. Levins & R. Lewontin The Dialectical Biologist.” Radical Science 20: 81-111 (also L. Levidow, ed., Science as Politics, London: Free Association Books).
  • Taylor, P. J. (2010). “Biology as Politics: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Lewontin and Levins (An essay review of Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health).” Science as Culture 19(2): 241-253.
  • Werskey, G. (1988 (1978)). The Visible College: A Collective Biography of British Scientists and Socialists of the 1930s. London: Free Association Books.
  • Werskey, G. (2007). “The Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science: A History in Three Movements?” Science as Culture 16(4): 397-462.
  • Williams, R. (1985). Loyalties. London: Chatto & Windus.
  • Worden, L. (2012). “Counterculture, cyberculture, and the Third Culture: Reinventing civilization, then and now”. Pp. in West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California. I. Boal, J. Stone and M. Watts (Eds.) Oakland: PM Press
  • Young, R. M. (1987). “Darwin and the genre of biography”. Pp. 203-224 in One Culture. G. Levine

—-

by
Peter J. Taylorpeter.taylor@umb.edu
Graduate track in Science in a Changing World
University of Massachusetts, Boston
http://www.cct.umb.edu/SICW 
http://sicw.wikispaces.umb.edu
http://sicw.wikispaces.com = portal to various internet-mediated or -documented initiatives

Intertwined histories of Science and Technology Studies and Science for the People?

This narrated slideshow gives an unscripted account, drawn from my imperfect memory, of various steps in the development of Science & Technology Studies in relation to the spirit of Science for the People:  http://youtu.be/KD_jtpmarfE

Critical comments and questions welcome.

 

(P.S. This is not the talk I have developed for the upcoming conference, http://science-for-the-people.org/, but my talk will provide a link to this slide show or an update.)

John Berger on peasants and history (from 1979)

For John Berger, in Pig Earth (New York: Pantheon, 1979), peasant culture is a ‘culture of survival” and bourgeois culture is a “culture of progress”:

p. 203

“Modern history begins-at different moments in different places-with the principle of progress as both the aim and the motor of history.. Cultures of progress envisage future expansion. They are forward-looking because the future offers ever larger hopes… A culture of survival envisages the future as a sequence of repeated acts for survival. Each act pushes a thread through the eye of a needle and the thread is tradition. No overall increase is envisaged.”

p. 212

“If one looks at the likely future course of world history, envisaging either the further extension and consolidation of corporate capitalism in all its brutalism, or a prolonged, uneven struggle waged against it, a struggle whose victory is not certain, the peasant experience of survival may well be better adapted to this long and harsh perspective than the continually reformed, disappointed, impatient progressive hope of an ultimate victory.”

Creative Thinking in Epidemiology (Day 3 of Learning Road Trip)

On Sept. 21, the Creative Thinking in Epidemiology workshop was run again, this time with researchers associated with Cancer Care Ontario and the Epidemiology Department at the University of Toronto.

(to be edited)

What happened?

The program, with links to pre-circulated materials and to some records from the workshop are given here.

Unlike the Amherst workshop two days earlier, all the participants were employed professionals in the public health area, but their primary identification was not necessarily as an epidemiologist.  (Some people worked in health communication, psychology, medical education,,…)

Again, given the size of the group (about 14), the autobiographical introductions were done in smaller groups (so not everyone heard everyone else’s).

The third activity, in which participants related how the precirculated discussion “paper intersects with or stimulates your own thinking” raised a diversity of themes, such as:

Looking at data in different ways, e.g., checking whether the deficit in girls in India differed from the first to the second child (it does–equal for the first, fewer girls for the 2nd); how to convey epi. results to people without epi. background; screening systems shaped by litigation (so litle attention to costs of overscreening); study characteristsics of those among underscreened groups who choose to get screened; and much more.

The fourth activity was a short survey done during a meal break after two hours of the workshop.  A sample of themes in the survey responses are:

struck by the comment that great epidemiological discoveries are based on observations more than interventions

excited by hearing each other talk about professional and scholarly creativity

frustrated by how to find time and colleagues to pursue the processes [started here]

chewing on how to explore connections made at the workshop

patterns in the topic: theme of analyzing data in novel ways

patterns in the process: everyone is encouraged to contribute

—-

After two more activities, we had a closing circle: Closing circle comments

In the category of “One thing we’re taking away to chew on or to put into practice,” comments included: “[Develop a] course on history of great epidemiological ideas,” “How to reinforce each other to do more in-depth, less-conventional work,” “Interesting that people are grappling with this [topic]. Creativity is not so lonely; there are lots of people here.”

(Start of road trip; Day 4)

Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology: A bibliography

In a 2011 graduate course on “Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology,” students were asked to add an annotated reference or resource (=person, organization…) to the evolving googledocs bibliography each week.  (Annotations were to convey the article’s key points as well as its connection to the student’s own inquiries and interests.)  The result is as follows:

Anderson, Elizabeth S.
link
epistemology, feminism
This is an excellent introduction to feminist epistemology and philosophy of science in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It includes a helpful discussion of “situated knowers” and a comparison of different approaches within feminist epistemology. Anderson herself is a kind of feminist empiricist – not of the simplistic sort described by Sandra Harding, but of a more sophisticated sort drawing on Helen Longino’s work. There is an extensive bibliography at the end.
SH

Baker, Lee. 1998. From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896-1954
link
anthropology, race, social_construction, history_of_science
This book explores changing racial categories and how anthropology reinforced and challenged notions of race. Baker chronicles the rise of anthropology with the rise of imperialism and discusses the ways “race” influenced politics and popular culture. He also includes and analysis of the efforts of DuBois and Boas to change the conception of race.
LP

Balsamo, A. (1991). Feminism and cultural studies. The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, 24(1), 50-73.
link
feminist cultural studies interdisciplinary multidisciplinary postdisciplinary
“My intent in this essay is to identify divergent lines of analysis and significant issues among the different projects of feminist cultural studies.”
The author gives some history on the development of cultural studies, looks at reading as a cultural practice, cultural politics in regards to race,gender,sexuality, sci/tech, and the body, and discusses feminist/literary criticism. (RCB)
RCB

Bamshad, Michael J. and Steven E. Olson. Does Race Exist? Scientific American. December 2003. 80-85
link
Race, biology, medicine
Provides a quick history of genetic classification pertaining to race. Questions the reliability of using race while looking at DNA and gives interesting examples and metaphors. The authors also go into some explanation involving medicine and race and the certain precautions that should be used if race is going to become a diagnostics tool.
MRC

Belkhir, J.A.A. (2005) Race, Gender and Class Bibliography
link
gender_race_scholarship
A list of texts collected by the Race, Gender and Studies group at the Sociology Department at the University of New Orleans. The texts are divided into ‘multicultural disciplines’ (e.g. Women’s Studies), ‘monocultural disciplines’ (e.g. history) and ‘critical pedagogy’. It represents a good resource for finding a variety of texts relevant to this course, and I particularly enjoy thinking about race, class and gender in these cultural categories provided by the RGS group.

Benjamin, Ruha. 2009. “A Lab of Their Own: Genomic sovereignty as postcolonial science policy.” Policy and Society 28(4):341-355.
link
genomics, race, STS
Looks at emerging “genomic sovereignty” movements in which countries attempt to claim ownership over the “national” genetic information, often in response to interest from outside pharmaceutical companies in population-based genomic medical research. While this approach allows developing nations to assert sovereignty in the face of “postcolonial science,” it also can force a national genetic identity onto a historically diverse body politic. The central claim of the article is that “the work of calibrating scientific and socio-political classifications is not haphazard conflation, but a deliberate interpretation of genomic data to match the socio-historical record and a re-imagining of historical and cultural narratives to make sense of genomic findings.”
EB

Bottomore, T. (1991). The Dictionary of Marxist Thought, 2nd Edition. MA: Blackwell Publishing.
link
Marxist ideology
This dictionary provides a wonderful reference to key terms/ideas found in Marxist ideology. The editors do an excellent job of summing up perspectives and providing further reading for the student.
SJ

Caldwell, Janis Mc Larren. “Introduction: Romantic materialism.” Literature and Medicine in Nineteenth-Century Britain: From Mary Shelley to George Eliot. New York: Cambridge UP, (2004): 1-24. Print.
Medical history, narrative, fiction, medicine, Michel Foucault, literary studies
The introduction is a cohesive and holistic view of the chapters that follow. Provides an excellent examination of a type of medical history that stems from romanticism and religion. Also discusses the formation of medicine in an institutional form ala Michel Foucault. Great juxtaposition of natural theology found in literature and medicine. Caldwell draws out the formation of medicine through what she calls the “‘two books’: the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture” and the rejection that later advocates for a materialist interpretive method; she later distinguishes such as “Romantic materialism,” which is the need for physical evidence and patient narrative. An essential read for those who are interested in literature and medicine, specifically in the nineteenth-century.
AC

Caulfield, Timothy et. al. 2009. “Race and ancestry in biomedical research: exploring the challenges.” Genome Medicine. 1:8 (doi:10.1186/gm8)
link
race, genomics, health disparities
Based on discussions at an interdisciplinary workshop on “Ancestry in Health and Medicine,” reviews the challenge of researching population genetics in the context of a complex social history. Panelists discussed how commercial/regulatory imperatives, media representations, and changing and ambiguous definitions of race can make population genetics challenging and lead to unintended consequences (like over-emphasizing the role of genetics as a basis for health disparities or the reification of racial categories).
EB

Clark, Josh. “Is it legal to sterilize addicts?” Howstuffworks.com
link
eugenics, birth control, reproduction
HowStuffWorks.com gives kind of a roughshod review of Project Prevention, an initiative that pays people with drug addictions money in exchange for the agreement to be sterilized (or use long-term birth control). The article suggests that this is some kind of new eugenics movement, but also gives airtime to the idea that it’s a legitimate way to prevent child abuse and neglect. Pretty interesting.
1) This intersects with my interests in addiction. The reaction to this project likely relies on the lens through which one views addiction (moral agency, pathological, genetic, or socially constructed).
2) There is also an accompanying (very popular) podcast. Definitely a pop-social-science article. I’m interested in the language used to address this topic.
AJH

Clegg, S., Mayfield, W., & Trayhurn, D. (1999). Disciplinary Discourses: a case study of gender in information technology and design courses. Gender & Education, 11(1), 43-55.
link
gender IT technology design computers
Considers the way in which gender continues to influence the pattern of recruitment onto both information technology (IT) and design courses. (At the time) fewer women are attracted to product and industrial design, and there was a decline in women in IT courses. Attempts to characterize the discourses of design and computing, and gendered notions of design and information technology.
RCB

Cohen, E. (2007). Tuskegee’s ghosts: Fear hinders black marrow donation
[[ http://articles.cnn.com/2007-02-07/health/bone.marrow_1_organ-donors-organ-donation-united-network?_s=PM:HEALTH|link]]
Short article, features Dr. Callender and his team at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., who in 1982 went into African-American communities in their city to find out why the organ donation rates were so low. They kept hearing the same reasons, including that African-Americans wouldn’t sign organ donor cards because they didn’t trust the U.S. medical system. People in the community recalled the Tuskegee experiments, when doctors in Alabama purposely withheld treatment from poor African-American men with syphilis from 1932 to 1972.
Callender and his team were able to increase African-American donors over two decades of going out into the community, but this dramatic increase has not happened for bone marrow donors, where there’s a different system for obtaining donors.
Addresses the disparities by looking at one family needing a donor and the challenges faced.
RCB

Cohen, Noam. 2011. “Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions.” The New York Times, January 30.
link
gender, technology_and_culture
While the openness of Wikipedia offers an online model for theoretically subverting the barriers of race/gender in knowledge production and consumption, this NY Times article examines why Wikipedia’s contributor base is barely 13% female, despite the absence of “structural” barriers to contribution. One explanation considers how the online culture of Wikipedia discourages women from contributing. Overall, the article raises intriguing questions about how barriers of race/gender may be expressed in different ways (perhaps more subtly) in online environments.
EB

Colorlines
link
Race, Media, Interaction
This blog does a wonderful job of collect the current day thoughts surrounding race in the United States and the world.
SJ

Davis, Kiri. A Girl Like Me. Reel Works Teen Filmmaking. 2005
link
Race, teen, psychology, film
–if the link doesn’t work the film is number 2.
A Girl Like Me is a documentary made by a seventeen year old, who interviews several African American teens regarding what it’s like being black in American, particulary focuses on beauty, image, and considered “good.” Most interesting is when Davis takes Kenneth Clark’s Doll Experiment of 1953 and runs the experiment again with African American children. Sadly, the results are the same as when Clark ran the experiment in 1953 in the hopes of showing the psychological effects of school segregation.
MRC

DNA Dude
link
genetics, lay person, accessibility, familiarization, public
As genetics increases in prevalence with each passing day, it’s interesting to note those making an effort to help make genetics more understandable, and also trying to debunk common myths. One such person is the “DNA Dude.”
From the welcome page:
“DNA-Dude.com introduces and explains genetics to the lay person.
Every day we encounter genetics in the news that concerns our health, public policy and ethics. But most people only have a vague sense of what is being discussed, at best. For our own health, and for the advancement of future research, it is in everyone’s interests to be familiar with genetics.
Our DNA plays a role in many areas of our health, everything from diabetes, autism, mental health, addiction, physical conditions (and the list goes on) can be better understood by knowing about genetics.
We encourage you to use this site to learn about the basics of genetics and get to know other lay people who also share an interest in the subject. If you have any pressing questions please visit out contact page to leave questions.”
KP

Eagleton, Terry
link
Werskey, Socialism
Terry Eagleton’s book Why Marx was Right spells out the main ideas of Marxist theory and discusses their relevance within today’s society. Its accessibility leads the reader to feel confident in having a firm understanding of Marxist ideas.The link provided is Eagleton’s publishers, Yale Press.
MRC

Edelman, Emily, Charis Eng, Sondra J, Stephen R Hardis A practical guide to interpretation and clinical application of personal genomic screening. BMJ 2009; 339:b4253
link
guide, genetics, doctors, medicine, testing, genetic testing, implications, challenges
This guide (self-described) to interpretation and clinical application of DTC genetic testing is worth glancing at. In its form it mirrors the kinds of products in GRST. In its content it provides a very useful summary of DTC genetic testing. It also shows the state of the art as far as critical responses to DTC genetic testing. There is an obvious and maybe to-be-expected lack of discussion of existential variables, as well as variables of interest to feminist and anti-racist criticism (essentialism, oppression, sexism, inequality, etc, etc).
KP

Edwards, Paul N., The Terminator meets Commander Data: Cyborg Identity in the New World Order, Changing Life: Genomes, Ecologies, Bodies, Commodities Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (ed. with S. Halfon & P. Edwards), 1997.
Cyborg, Science Fiction, Cultural Interpretation, Technology, Society
This article describes the Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) films as reflections of the political and cultural period in which the films were produced. The technology is symbolic of how American culture deals with the “other”. Sarah Connor’s role as a Madonna figure and her transformation to a militaristic, powerful character is documented.
NMO

Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Deidre English. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist, 1973. Print.
feminism, women, midwife, history
This text is a miniature pamphlet that is packaged with dense information tied up in a bow. Written using feminist theories. Explains through historical approach women as practitioners prior to the actual profession. Provides excellent overview of medicine institutionalized, the rise of the doctor and the displacement of females from medicine. The punishments women endured for practicing medicine. Provides and explains medicine, politically, religiously, and economically. A recommendation for investigation of the “Popular Health Movement.” Women in the domain of medical occupation, e.g. nurse.
AC

Etzkowitz, H. Fuchs, S. Gupta, N. Kemelgor, C. & Ranga, M. 2008 The Coming Gender Revolution in Science in The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies
Gender Revolution women_science academia
This article depicts women’s situations in science across different societies. The authors observe, among other things, that in societies where science is valued women are represented but in a lower positions than men. Furthermore, he gives many examples of women’s participation in sciences with the common pattern that when societies valuing science less, woman rise to higher levels. When society values science more woman are in subservient roles.
NMO

Farrell, Colleen. “Pretty in Pink: Is This Women’s Health Activism?” Psychology Today. 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 22 March 2011.
link
Women, “traditional femininity,” gender stereotypes, cultural, Capitalism
Offers a critique of current women’s breast cancer campaign by offering an account to the original women’s health movement. The original movement we learn was in order to dispense information about women’s health, bodies, and to undermine patriarchal practices in science and medicine. Colleen Farrell offers a unique perspective or rather critique of current health campaigns that purport women’s health awareness when in reality, the campaign is functioning as a means of preserving “traditional femininity” and a function for capitalism. Farrell examines products and posters for a “health awareness” walk, called “Stiletto Stampede” that the breast cancer movement presented as a means to raise funds for breast cancer research (“Pretty in Pink: Is This Women’s Health Activism?”). Farrell compares this walk and consumer pink products to the perpetration of gender norms, a fixation on women’s bodies as sexual objects, and a way to avoid women’s health education and critique of the medical institution, patriarchy, and gender norms; all of which were reasons for feminists to push for a health movement in the first place.
AC

French, Patrick. “A Brahmin in Your Genes?” Hindustan Times. January 15, 2011
link
genomics, caste, race
This is an interesting inside look at the Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology’s attempts to map India genetic diversity, with interviews from two scientists about the social implications of their research. The researchers state that there is no genetic basis for caste, and explain that they chose not to identify their sample groups by location or ethnicity out of a fear that “the information they were liable to discover about the origins of communities might have political, religious or caste consequences, and if mishandled could lead to conflict and even violence.” The scientists are clearly aware of the social implications of their research, and it is interesting how this particular project attempts to address those upfront.
EB

Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology Bibliography 2009
link
gender, race, science, technology, bibliography
A compilation of annotated references from the 2009 Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology class.
Full set of keywords and individual items listed at http://sicw.wikispaces.umb.edu/file/view/GRSTBiblio
PT et al.

Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986)
Motherhood, History and theory of
This provides a solid comparison to Hrdy’s Mother Nature.
SJ

Ghosh-Schellhorn, Martina ed., Writing women across borders and categories,chapter: Apes, Gender and the Jungle; Cooper, Beth 2000
link
Haraway, Gender studies, Science and Technology
This book provides a comparative discourse between the work of Donna Haraway and Mariana Torgonvick. Through this comparison, one can develop a better understanding of Haraway’s language and purpose in the discussion on primates, humanity and science.

Gordon, Linda. “Malthusianism.” An Introduction to Women’s Studies: Gender in a Transnational World. Grewal, Inderpal, and Kaplan, Caren, eds. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 59-62.
Malthusianism, Neo-Malthusianism, poverty, eugenics, science, economics
The greatest happiness (well-being) for the greatest number: no, not really. Linda Gordon offers a discussion/critique on the effects of Malthusianism, which was based on the beliefs proposed by Thomas Malthus to make sense through the nascent “capitalist science of economics” (Gordon 59) of the nineteenth-century about population growth and poverty. Neo-Malthusianism, she argues, would later push for contraceptives to control population growth of those considered, poor. Aside from giving a brief account of Malthusianism and the later, Neo-Malthusianism, Gordon reveals how these early ideas about population and poverty were the early biases for eugenics.
AC

Greenberg, Tamara McClintock. “Ribbons, Bracelets, and Disease.” Psychology Today. 9 Nov. 2009. Web. 22 March 2011.
link
Medicine, disease, politics, ribbons
Offers an interesting point-of-view on what she calls, “the politics of disease.” In this short, but thought-provoking article, Tamara McClintock Greenberg connects the issues of disease, public health awareness, cultural response, and our fair system, Capitalism. Greenberg recounts her visit to the breast health clinic where she illustrates a warmly decorated, courteous, spa-like environment where each nurse is apologetic for any delay to her schedule appointment. After recounting the very much impressionable visit, Greenberg turns to other diseases that receive stigma, criticism, and essentially, no funding. One disease she mentions is lung cancer. Along with the lack of funding, public understanding, and ribbon is the issue of stigma each patient suffering from said cancer. My only issue with Greenberg is her statement about lung cancer causing more fatalities than any other cancer (“Ribbons, Bracelets, and Disease”), which is unfortunately lacking in any data or empirical evidences. What one could gather from this article that is worth investigating later is her critique of ribbons and bands being a revealing catalyst to how the public perceives a disease and what gender norms/politics are behind the funding.

AC

Hahn, Hans and Otto Neurath and Rudolf Carnap
link
history_of_science, science_and_politics, philosoph_of_science
This is a great primary source resource disseminated by The Vienna Circle in 1929. The Vienna Circle was a group of scientists and philosophers of science who rejected metaphysics and theology in favor of “down-to-earth empiricism”. The motivations for their philosophy were tied up in the political climate of Vienna in the period between the world wars. They manifesto implies that a rigorous and formalized approach to science could combat the dogmatic teachings of the Nazi party. They also advocated extending this empiricist approach to areas of social and political science.
ajh

Hansson, Sven Ove, “Science and Pseudo-Science”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
link
science/pseudoscience
Hansoon’s article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy breaks down the main questions involved in the differences between science and pseudoscience. He provides relevant examples that express the misconceptions between what is real and not real science.
MRC

Hartingan Jr, John
link
Ethnographic Research, Racial ideas
This text does an excellent job of providing the reader with an excellent background on how the notion of ‘race’ has developed in the United States and how research in this area of study is being conducted. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in studying race notions in the United States. (SJ)
SJ

Hass, Marjorie. “Can There Be a Feminist Logic?” Is Feminist Philosophy Philosophy?. Ed. Emanuela Bianchi. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999.
link
women_in_academia, feminist_perspectives, logic, philosophy
The article discusses two alternate criticisms of the project of feminist logic. Put simply, one criticism states that logic is at odds with feminist goals because of its absolutism while the opposing criticism says that there is no place in logic for feminism because logic is completely objective. While the article focuses on logic, it is also addresses issues of authority, language, and objectivity. Hass concludes that work in feminist logic could be productive, both for feminist goals and for the field of logic, perhaps by offering alternative logics that allow for degrees of variation, difference, and subjectivity.
AH

Hedgecoe, Adam, and Paul Martin. 2003. “The Drugs Don’t Work.” Social Studies of Science 33:327 -364.
link
genomics, race, STS
Examines the development of pharmacogenomics based on the sociology of technological expectations, which considers how cultural and scientific ideas about the future of science and technology can shape its development. The approach could offer useful analysis of topics other than genomics.
EB

Hrdy, Sarah Blaffer , Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999).
Motherhood, History and theory of
Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection should be required reading for anyone who happens to be a human being. In it, Hrdy reveals the motivations behind some of our most primal and hotly contested behavioral patterns–those concerning gender roles, mate choice, sex, reproduction, and parenting–and the ideas and institutions that have grown up around them. She unblinkingly examines and illuminates such difficult subjects as control of reproductive rights, infanticide, “mother love,” and maternal ambition with its ever-contested companions: child care and the limits of maternal responsibility. Without ever denying personal accountability, she points out that many of the patterns of abuse and neglect that we see in cultures around the world (including, of course, our own) are neither unpredictable nor maladaptive in evolutionary terms. “Mother” Nature, as she points out, is not particularly concerned with what we call “morality.” The philosophical and political implications of our own deeply-rooted behaviors are for us to determine–which can be done all the better with the kind of understanding gleaned from this exhaustive work.
SJ

Iwata, Shuichi, and Robert S. Chen. 2005. “Science and the Digital Divide.” Science 310:405.
link
science, internet, digital divide
This editorial examines how global digital divides limit access to scientific data and knowledge, using an example from the deadly South Asian tsunami in December 2004. “Immediately after the South Asian tsunami, critical data on elevation, population location, administrative boundaries, and damage could not be shared because of intellectual property and national security constraints,” according to the authors. Their recommendations include increasing distance education and training; improving the accessibility communication technologies to disadvantaged, marginalized, and vulnerable groups; communicating technical knowledge to the general public; and establishing digital libraries and other mechanisms to increase access.
EB

J.Crew ad may be transgender baby propaganda, warns Fox
link
Gender Stereotypes
This article sums up what some people might feel is gender bending and how we place ideas upon images.
SJ

Jacobson, Ken (2011) Companies Sink Billions More Into Stock Buybacks Than Into R&D Or Jobs, Manufacturing & Technology News, Volume 18, No. 3
link
Capitalism Research_development
This short article describes a current problem with major American companies who are using more of their profits to buyback their own stocks instead of investing in their own R&D, hiring more people or expanding their businesses. Research is seen as financially risky.
NMO

Katha Pollitt, When is a mother not a mother? The Nation, December 31, 1990
Motherhood, Modern
The author provides and interesting perspective on the changing role of the modern mother.
SJ

Kaufman, Scott Barry
link
Genes, Nature v. Nurture
This comes from Huffington Post’s Living section- so please keep that in mind as you read the article by Kaufman. Kaufman takes the reader through 8 controversial topics within the nature v. nurture debate. I found the article useful during Case 3 when thinking about adoption.
MRC

Kirk, Mary “Gender and Information Technology: Moving Beyond Access to Co-Create Global Partnership” Information Science Reference, Hey PA 2009ersh
gender science partnership science technology education
The book covers a lot of content, including stereotypes of male and females in science and technology, mass media, language, education and business as social institutions. However, I particularly enjoyed Chapter 9 where Kirk describes an inclusive science and technology classroom. She also discusses the concept of students and faculty working together to co-create knowledge and thereby creating a safe environment for learning.
NMO

Kohler, Julie K. Harold D. Grotevant and Ruth G. McRoy. “Adopted Adolescents’ Preoccupation with Adoption: The Impact on Adoptive Family Relationships.” Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (February 2002): 93-104.
link
adoption
This study done by Julie Kohler and her colleagues explore the interest in teens wanting to reconnect with birth parents. They found when teens are more preoccupied with wanting to know more about birth parents there usually was a correlation with being unhappy with the adoptive family or receiving abuse at school from peers. Interesting study!
MRC

Konner, Melvin. The evolution of childhood: relationships, emotion, mind. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010.
link
childhood, gender, evolution, genetics, nature, nature, development
An exhaustive (943 page) interpretation of childhood through the lenses of evolutionary biology and psychology. Published in 2010, it provides a single platform through which to view the heterogeneous existing ways evolutionary evidence and theory is employed in making claims about gender, reproduction, enculturation, play, etc. I’m not in a position to judge its accuracy or effectiveness, but it is an extremely useful resource, and itself deserves interpretation. The chapter on “The Culture of Gender in Childhood and Adolescence” (p 675) should be of particular interest to GRST.
KP

Kourany, Janet, ed (2002). The Gender of Science. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
link
women_and_science, third_world_feminism, women_in_acedemia, biology, archaeology, psychology, medicine, feminist_epistemology
Kourany is the editor of this collection of essays covering women as scientists, women in acedemia, the scientific method, science’s social effects, and scientific epistemology. Contributers include: Evelyn Fox Keller, Sandra Harding, Ruth Hubbard, Alison Wylie, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Helen Longino, Lynn Nelson, and Donna Haraway.
SG

Largeault, Anne, Shahid Rahman, and Juan Manuel Torres. The Influence of genetics on contemporary thinking . Dordrecht: Springer, 2007.
link
genetics, thinking, ethics, children, clones
Multiple angles on the effects of genetics on contemporary thinking in the natural sciences, medicine, and beyond. I was particularly interested in a paper probing the potential harms done by cloning and genetic intervention in general, and in another paper probing the parental impulse to control, and the effects of genetics thereby. The overall impetus of the project, tracking a “geneticization” of thinking, is interesting and worth encountering in its own right.
KP

Latour, Bruno
link
science_and_politics, scientific_ethics, science-as-power, STS, laboratory life, power, inscriptions
A difficult article to summarize, but here’s a teaser: Latour writes, “It seems to me that the only way to escape the simplistic relativist position is to avoid both ‘materialist’ and ‘mentalist’ explanations at all costs and to look instead for more parsimonious accounts, which are empirical through and through, and yet able to explain the vast effects of science and technology.” Latour goes on to offer a very dynamic account of scientific practices in terms of what he thinks of as the warring of different perspectives for epistemic supremacy via “immutable mobiles,” i.e. texts and images (he calls them “inscriptions”) aimed at advancing and persuading others of scientific claims.
The article is extremely and usefully provocative, simultaneously “deflating” overly abstracted theories of science and technology and offering compelling, if not always persuasive, extrapolations. I found this article interesting for many reasons, but especially because it offers a powerful recalibration of how we think about what is necessary for a given knowledge claim or technological apparatus to gain traction.
KP

Lederer, Susan E., Elizabeth Fee, and Patricia Tuohy. Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature : an Exhibition by the National Library of Medicine. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 2002. Print.
“Frankenstein science,” Modern Science, medicine, Counter-Culture, Movies
An interesting medical, scientific, cultural, and political examination of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her novel: Frankenstein. The authors of this exhibition, for it was an open series available to the public to attend and listen, examine the contemporary and universal aspects of MSW’s work alongside its transformation by Hollywood and the counter-culture. Frankenstein’s creation, as they point out, becomes one with Victor. By the mid-nineteenth century, even writers such as Elizabeth Gaskell confused the two as one (35). They examine the different texts and influences that has an impression on MSW, such as the scientist Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Wright, alongside ancient writings on alchemy, and controversial (yet popular) showings of galvanized corpses, cow heads, frog legs and the like. The overall trajectory of this text demonstrates the stigma (and myth) that Frankenstein conveys: the unnatural, the dark outcome of scientific god-like attempts. Frankenstein (I am using the current view of the two as one) becomes the symbol of fear and anxiety about science and medicine (51). An interesting timeline of “Frankenstein science” purveys into modern sciences with the current use of actual cadavers and anatomical imaging known as the Human Project available through the World Wide Web. They discuss the loss of MSW’s creature’s sophistication, social, and environmental learning. The text leaves us with a quote from MSW: Prometheus “used knowledge as a weapon to defeat evil, by leading mankind, beyond the state wherein they are sinless through ignorance, to that in which they are virtuous through wisdom” (65). They argue and agree that it is not knowledge that brings about chaos.
AC

Lederman, Muriel and Ingrid Bartsch, ed, (2001). The Gender and Science Reader. New York: Routledge.
link
women_and_science, engineering, science_criticism, Ecology, feminist_epistemology, multiculturalism, biology, medicine, race, women_in_acedemia
Collection of Essays
–Women in Science, Creating Androcentric Science, Analyzing Gendered Science, Gendered Practice, Science and Identity, and Feminist Restructuring of Science.
Contributers include: Ruth Hubbard, Bonnie Spanier, Evelyn Fox Keller, Carolyn Merchant, Susan Bordo, Sandra Harding, Donna Haraway, Helen Longino, and Anne Fausto-Sterling. (SG)
SG

Lognino Helen.” Evidence and Hypothesis: An Analysis of Evidential Relations.” Philosophy of Science 46 (1979): 35-56
philosophy of science, evidence and background beliefs, classification
This essay deals with the dependence of evidential relations on background beliefs and assumptions. Based on a descriptive presentation of two examples from History of Science, Logino illustrates how what is identifiable as the same state of affairs can be taken as evidence for conflicting hypotheses. After discussing two standard approaches to evidential relations, she attempts to bridge the logical empiricist approach and a more subjective approach, by suggesting that the function of background beliefs is a matter of focus. Different aspects of a given state of affair are highlighted due to different background beliefs such that they can support conflicting hypotheses. Rationality (= hypotheses based on evidence), she argues, is therefore not the infallible road to truth or away from error, that it is often thought to be. Rational only means to take some state of affairs as evidence for an hypothesis in light of background assumptions one accepts (relativism). At the same time, however, she argues that scientific inquiry is, at least in principle, a form of rational and objective inquiry. Objectivity, however, must not only consist in being rational but also in articulating and thus exposing to evaluation and criticism the background assumptions in light of which an assessment takes place. (SS)
SS

Lord, H., & Cohoon, J. (2007). Interactional and Structural Gender Bias: The Case of Computer Science and Engineering Departments. Conference Papers — American Sociological Association, 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
link
gender higher education occupations organizations technology work
This article looks at the male-dominated field of computer science and computer engineering and its organizational practices that affect women’s representation in 48 graduate CSE departments in the US. They look at gender bias through interactional and structural forms of admission criteria and found that they both effect women’s representation in this field.

Lynch, Michael and John Law
link
scientific practice, observation, identification, birds, birdwatching, fields
Lynch and Law offer a unique and methodologically rich approach to STS through an examination of field manuals used by birders. The authors argue that the practice of birding deserves to be considered as within the “ballpark” of scientific practice. Moreover, the practice of birding reveals an otherwise under-considered aspect of scientific practice, namely situated, accident-prone acts of natural identification based on guides. Be warned: this article contains its fair share of bird puns.
KP

Mallon, Ron (2006) “Race: Normative, Not Metaphysical or Semantic”. Ethics 116 (3): 525-551.
race, philosophy of language, ethics
Mallon argues that in many current philosophical conversations of race people have focused too much of its metaphysical and linguistic status. He points out that philosophers disagree greatly on what kinds of things exist in the world and how words in our languages refer to things in the world. By focusing on these disagreements, philosophers miss how much they agree about the concept of race, in that, almost every rejects the idea of racial essences. Mallon argues that philosophers should start with our normative agreements about race and analyze the concept from there, instead of getting bogged down in semantics and metaphysics. Mallon glosses over what talking about semantics and metaphysics can do for us (he is a bit quick to throw them out all together) but his general point is a wise one; since philosophers disagree about the metaphysics and semantics of simple words and objects, choosing a complex social concept like “race” as a battleground does not do much to further illuminate anything about race itself.
SG

March, Karen
link
adoption
Karen March conducted a study in 1995 of adopted adults who had recently been reunited with birth mothers. The study consists of open-ended interview questions highlighting the ‘perceived’ social stigma of adoption.
Full Citation
Perception of Adoption as Social Stigma: Motivation for Search and Reunion
Karen March
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Aug., 1995), pp. 653-660
MRC

Martin, J. N., & Krizek, R. L. (1996). Exploring whiteness: A study of self-label for white Americans. Communication Quarterly, 44(2), 125-144. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
link
Whiteness, Labels, Race
Examines the preferences and meanings of labels for white Americans. Whites’ resistance to self-labelling; Perceptions about the process of self-labelling; Relative preference for the term `wasp.’
SJ

McGonigal, Jane “Gaming Can Make a Better World” Ted Talk. http://www.ted.com
[[http://grst.wikispaces.umb.edu. |link]]
video games, globalization
McGonigal argues that (1) people can solve hard problems in video games while also feeling motivated, optimistic, and even ‘blissful’ and that (2) people can build video games that help us solve hard problems in the real world.
McGonigal does not specifically discuss issues of race, gender, or colonization in her talk, but her arguments for video games’ potential have interesting implications for anti-oppression activism.
For instance, if some negative side effects of oppression is lack of optimism, motivation, or a sense of influence on society’s structures, then McGonigal’s arguments imply that video games could be a powerful anti-oppression tool since they are have the potential to motivate and invigorate millions of players.
One worrying feature of McGonigal’s project is that she is seeking to develop games that tackle the problems of the developing world, but it not clear whether anyone from the developing world is giving input for her project. Allow her games stress agency in the players, and do not seek to solve the players’ problems for them, it would still be problematic if game developers in California are creating virtual game worlds of Africa and Asia without input from Africans or Asians. But again, McGonigal does not discuss in this talk whether or not this is the case.
Overall, while McGonigal’s work is tangential to anti-oppression activism, the implications of her work could be worth the attention of activists seeking to address problems of systematic oppression and discrimination.
SLG

McIntosh, Peggy “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies”, reprinted in Gender Basics
White Privilege
I had recommended this article to one of you guys during your presentations two weeks ago. This article does a wonderful job of discussing “white privilege” and how it influences society.
SJ

Miéville, China. “A Marxist Guide to Monsters.” Socialist Worker Online. 16 July 2005. Web.
link
Presents monsters not merely as the “bad guy,” but as “incredibly creative figures” (1). Monsters, as China Miéville poses, are figures that can mean almost anything; using this logic, he is presenting a case for why so many monsters continue to exist and the fascination with them both on page and on film. They come to represent political and social concerns. Miéville demonstrates the evolution of the monster from Frankenstein’s creature to King Kong, which both projected the fears and anxieties of those times (although they were not political correct nor right). Miéville also includes the other side of the monster depiction as mere “social pathology” (2), but he argues that this is too limited for the possibilities that the monster can present.
AC

orsigian, Judy. “The Women’s Health Movement in the United States.” An Introduction to Women’s Studies: Gender in a Transnational World. Grewal, Inderpal, and Kaplan, Caren, eds. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 140-144.
women, activism, OBOS
Aside from being the current Executive Director of Our Bodies, Ourselves, Judy Norsigian brings to light what Gary Werskey’s historical account omits: women, health, and activism during the 1970’s. Norsigian describes the group of women who formulated to distribute, educate, and protested tyrannical science that determined to pathologize women’s health issues rather than offer prevention (141). These women who formed the Women’s Health Network or WHM in New England eventually grew to assist in pushing for reform in health policy and practice. Norsigian includes a list of accomplishment and reveals an eventual growth that is now global. Norsigian reminds us that for as much as the WHM has had an impact, the need for significant change in medical institutions remains.
AC

Obasogie, O. (2009). Playing the Gene Card: A Report on Race and Human Biotechnology. Oakland, CA: Center for Genetics and Society.
link
race DNA biotechnology
“These technologies raise questions for minority populations as patients, consumers…Race-based biotechnologies threaten to reinforce the myth that racial categories are natural rather than a classification system invented for political ends.”
Relevant to Case 3, the article looks at
Chapter 1 | Race-Based Medicine: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?
Chapter 2 | Ancestry Tests: Back to the Future?
Chapter 3 | Race and DNA Forensics in the Criminal Justice System
The author closes each chapter with his recommendations to the systems and organizations behind these technologies.
RCB

Perea, J. F. (1997). The Black/White Binary Paradigm of race: The “Normal Science” of American Racial Thought. Californai Law Review , 1213-1258.
link
Racial classification; Binaries
The author discusses the discourse surrounding the discussion of race in American thought and how it is binary (black/white) and inherently exclusionist of other races, specifically Latino Americans. The author argues that by viewing race as binary, those in power are undermining the experiences of other minorities.
SJ

Pickstone, John. “Medicine, Society, and the State.” Porter, Roy, ed. History of Medicine. New York: Cambridge UP, (2006): 260-297. Print.
history, disease, medicine
Contains a fantastic discussion about the power dynamics and institution of medicine. Includes a great historicizing of the medicine as a practice and institution. Discuses and informs about degeneracy and its development in the 19th-century. Discusses diseases of the 19th century. Also includes the growth of a medical economy and disenfranchisement of women in medical practices. Includes information about women’s rights to care. Great book for historical and background information.
AC

Pinch, Trevor J., and Wiebe E. Bijker. 1984. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other.” Social Studies of Science 14:399 -441.
link
science and technology studies, sociology, constructivist, technology
Offers a framework for interpreting scientific and technological developments with a focus on social groups and how problems are presented and “closed” in different ways. (EB)
EB

Pitts-Taylor, V. (2007). Surgery junkies: wellness and pathology in cosmetic culture. NJ: Rutgers University Press
link
feminism, body image
Prof. Pitts-Taylor does an amazing job of analyzing the practice of cosmetic surgery and what it means theoretically and in practice
SJ

Public Broadcasting System. (2001). Evolution. Retrieved 03 30, 2011, from Series Overview: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/about/overview_series.html
Evolution of Sex, Motherhood
In evolutionary terms, sex is more important than life itself. Sex fuels evolutionary change by adding variation to the gene pool. The powerful urge to pass our genes on to the next generation has likely changed the face of human culture in ways we’re only beginning to understand
SJ

Punday, Daniel. “Narrative Performance in the Contemporary Monster Story.” The Modern Language Review 97.4 (2002): 803-20.
Monster, Frankenstein, Narrative, Literary Theory
Daniel Punday agrees with popular science fiction theorist that pose that monster stories are a means to “challenge the homogeneity of society by revealing its tensions, inconsistencies, and gaps” (803). An interesting quote that reveals much of Punday’s argument: “More than ever we are aware of our bodies as constructions dependent upon technology and social expectation” (804); something I would like to revert to and question. To Punday, the meaning of the monstrous body is what gives it agency or denies it agency. Punday argues that when critics examine the literary monster, they use the “common trope” of Frankenstein; he goes on to assert that this is where disunity of society is found or feared. Punday offers up further discussion moving onwards with Darwinian evolutionary theories to help further explain another form of interpretation of the “monstrous body.” A quote I would like to look back at that Punday upholds the monstrous body can do: “Evolution demands that monsters be placed within a narrative context that evaluates them in terms of the current norm and future morphology” (817). For Punday, the monstrous body is whatever meaning we give to it: a “narrative performance.”
AC

Pursell, Carrol, 2001, Feminism and the Rethinking of The History of Technoology, in Feminism in the Twentieth-Century Science, Technology, and Medicine
feminism, history, technology, social change
This article looks at the focus of technology innovation through the eyes of feminist scholars and feminist organizations from the 1950s through the turn of the century. It also highlights how technology change is very different from the male point of view than from the woman’s point of view.
NMO

Quoted: ‘Burn Your Bra’ on Racism And Body Image in Gaming
link
Gender, Gaming, Feminism, Racism
An interesting article on the use of language in the gaming community, specifically in relation to taunts etc. Also presents an interesting view on what is considered beautiful within the community.
SJ

Rinaldi, Andrea. 2009. “Science wikinomics. Mass networking through the web creates new forms of scientific collaboration.” EMBO Reports. 10(5): 439-443
link
science, internet, collaboration
Looks at opportunities for mass collaboration in the production of scientific knowledge, following the “wikinomics” model. The article reviews how scientists have been using such collaboration techniques for over a decade in the form of volunteer computing, but it also turns to the future and offers lofty hopes for expanding the wiki-science concept: “Not only are shared efforts and goals pervading the scientific community with the continuous creation and diffusion of new models of data annotation and exchange, but also the torrent of information and ideas pours out to the public, allowing worldwide collaboration based around ideals of openness and cooperation.”
EB

Roberts, Dorothy (1995) “The Genetic Tie”. The University of Chicago Law Review. 62.1: 209-273.
race, genetics,
Roberts argues that the valuing of a “genetic tie” in America was developed in large part by racist ideology that valued racial ‘purity’ and whiteness. She also argues that Americans have not just inherited this meaning of the genetic tie, but they constantly re-create it in social life. She observes that since definitions of genetic ties and family can, in principle, be separated from racist ideology, people should be on the look out for ways to change how we conceive of and value family.
SG

Rooks, N. Wearing your Race Wrong: Hari, Dram, and a Politics of Rpresentation for African American Women at Play on Battlefield. In M. Bennet, & V. D. Dickerson, Recover the Black Female Body (p. 279). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Race, Black Hair, Beauty, Reappropriation
This article provides an excellent example of the re-appropriation of beauty and how perspectives of what is “proper” can shift when the body which wears said item shifts.
SJ

Sabatello, Maya. “Advancing Transgender Family Rights through Science: A Proposal for an Alternative Framework.” Human Rights Quarterly 33.1 (2011): 43-75. Project MUSE. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
link
family rights, transgender, bioethics
In reading the Case description and the initial list for possible topics, I realized transgender was missing, and I became very interested in transgenderism, genetics, and the issues that arise for transgendered individuals in family structures/rights/”traditional” family privileges…
Uses interesting international case studies.
Abstract:
This article examines the impact of the scientific revolution on the family rights of transgender individuals from an international human rights perspective. It reviews how the European Court of Human Rights has responded to quandaries arising in this context and observes the inequalities that surface at the intersection between law, gender identities, culture, and science with regard to transgender family relations. To close the gaps, the article suggests pursuing family rights from a different venue: a relational approach to the universal right to enjoy scientific progress and its application under Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
RCB

Salter, F. (2006). On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration.
link
genetics sociobiology ethnic nepotism
Not sure what my stance would be on this, as I won’t be using this book for my project specifically, but found it striking and it raised some questions for me (especially around what the author’s stance is).
From Wikipedia: “Genetic interests” is a non-technical term designating an organism’s inclusive fitness or copies of its genes. Salter’s book is the first attempt to map the distribution of human genetic interests. Positive reviews by white advocacy publications (e.g., American Renaissance]) were followed by negative reviews from the genetics blogosphere, most notably in Gene Expression.
RCB

Schapiro, Tamar. What is a Child?. Ethics 109 ( July 1999): 715–738
link
children, freedom, kinship, parenting, kant, philosophy
Schapiro’s essay explores the question “What is a child such that it could be appropriate to treat a person like one?” Her reflections are anchored in Kantian notions of autonomy and citizenship. Among her conclusions is the idea that there is an ethical imperative to “help children overcome their dependent condition” and “to make them free to control themselves.” While I do not always agree with her picture of children, and her view of parenting as “making dependence the enemy,” I thoroughly appreciate Schapiro’s guiding questions, her careful method, and most of all her emphasis on children as primarily in the business of play. For students in GRST, especially those studying effects of genomics on family and kinship, her essay presents an extremely useful, philosophy-based approach, which could prove a useful complement to more STS-centered inquiries.
KP

Shaw, Debra Benita. Women, Science, and Fiction: The Frankenstein Inheritance. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2000.
Women, Science, Frankenstein, Monster
A reiteration of how women are disenfranchised through science and science fiction due to the engender beliefs that women’s bodies are associated with nature and reproduction and men’s with culture and production (6). Debra Benita Shaw argues that women, even Mary Wollenscraft Shelley, used gender/sexual politics as metaphors to help voice “what cannot be said in words” (179). Shaw argues that the “monster” is a myth used for “structuring resistance to the construction of identities” (180). Shaw makes certain of the distinction of the monsters as “creation of political imaginations, rather than archetypes of the female psyche” (181) to prevent the association of the female imagination as morbid. Shaw does point out that the shifts of medicine/science from “classification to the understanding the causality and development of illness” (181) permeated; the uses of cadavers were further used and the new understandings of the soma were underway. Shaw believes that women used science fiction, both consciously and/or unconsciously because of the freedom the literature offered. She holds up that women used science fiction as a means to discuss gender politics and the patriarchy that pervades so that women can reimage new identities and social orders (2). She argues sf is imagines how scientific theory and technology may affect the future development of a society when assimilated into that society (2). Shaw argues that sf allows women to express and explore alienation alongside a gender-free or “differently gendered science might produce” (6). An interesting quote that caught my attention: “But equally at stake is the accompanying realization [sic] of the body as subordinate to mind” (181). This lacks the further research of modern notions of the soma and psyche. Scientists, biologists, and neurologists, like Elizabeth Wilson demonstrate how the body is not as subordinate to the mind as we originally imagined.
AC

Showalter, Elaine. The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture 1830-1980. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985. Print.
Feminism, hysteria, female malady
Introduction includes photographs, history and the development of psychiatry.
Includes a feminist theoretical approach. Contains detailed account of English asylums and treatment of those considered “mad.” Includes hysteric case histories and an look at the female anorexic. Discusses an alternative view of the female malady as empowering and a form of rebellion. Connects loss of voice with said rebellion. Includes the performances and façade of female hysterics. Includes the development of male hysterics and masculinities. Detailed notes. Has an extensive list of bibliographies.
AC

Smedley, Audrey. 2002. “Science and the Idea of Race: A Brief History.” Race and Intelligence. London. Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.
link
history_of_race, racial_catergories, IQ_Test
In this chapter, Smedley provides a history of race from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. She discusses how racial categories are created to serve a social function which includes the justification and perpetuation of inequality based of the belief in inferiority. She also includes a section on IQ tests and how they were used by scientists to reinforce hereditarian ideology which influenced the eugenics movement.
LP

Smith Glasgow, M.E. & Bello, G. (2007). Bone marrow donation: Factors influencing intentions in African Americans. Oncology Nursing Forum, 34(2), 369-377.
link
race bone marrow
A small study done in Philadelphia to identify factors influencing the intentions of African Americans to donate or not to donate bone marrow. Variables researched: Attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavioral intentions regarding bone marrow donation. Findings: “Fear or not trusting,” “external influences,” and “concerned about resources” correlated significantly with the intention not to donate bone marrow. Helping others, approval of people, and value of knowledge correlated significantly with the intention to donate bone marrow.
Conclusions: Greater attention must be paid to increasing donations and improving the critical need for bone marrow donors. Patient education programs should be expanded to improve African Americans’ knowledge of the importance of bone marrow donation, including the process, associated costs, and resources available to donors.
Implications for Nursing: Nurses—irrespective of practice areas—are key contributors to increase the rate of bone marrow donation, particularly among African Americans.
Interesting because when I asked a nurse practitioner about whether or not she, or any nurse she knows, educates people about being any kind of donor, she told me that most nurses don’t feel it is their place to talk to recruit donors unless it is relevant to their situation.
RCB

Stone, Terry Lee. (2006). White Space: Examining racial diversity in the design industry. Step Inside Design.
[[http://www.stepinsidedesign.com/STEPMagazine/Article/ 28650/0/page/1/index.html|link]]
racial diversity technology design
The article details the disproportionate percentage of white designers in the U.S., relative to the racial breakdown of the entire U.S. labor force. It also takes a statistical look forward at racial diversity of the the future’s design industry.
RCB

Symbiotica (n.d.)
link
art, life_sciences
“SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning, critique and hands-on engagement with the life sciences”
“hosts residents, workshops, exhibitions and symposiums.
With an emphasis on experiential practice, SymbioticA encourages better understanding and articulation of cultural ideas around scientific knowledge and informed critique of the ethical and cultural issues of life manipulation.
The Centre offers a new means of artistic inquiry where artists actively use the tools and technologies of science, not just to comment about them but also to explore their possibilities.” I wonder what would happen if there were some symmetry, that is, scientists actively used the tools of cultural and ethical analysis to address the implications of scientific advances in actual sites (such as HIV clinics where there is a limited budget for high-price antiretorvirals), not just comment on such situations. (PT)

Tanno, E. Names, Narratives and the Evolution of Ethnic Identity. In A. González, Our voices: Essays in culture, ethnicity and communication
link
Racial classifications; Latino studies
The author provides the reader with a look at her perception of racial labels and how that shifts depending on those with whom she is speaking.
SJ

Taylor, P.J. “Biology as Politics: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Lewontin and Levins (An essay review of Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health),” Science as Culture, 19 (2): 241-253, 2010.
link
Science as politics, Lewontin, Levins, Marxist science, biology
The contributions of Lewontin (an evolutionary biologist) and Levins (an ecologist and population health researcher) in their essay collection, Science under the Influence, “are viewed from four angles: a more vigorous culture of science criticism; a visible college of Marxist scientists in the USA; inquiries into the diverse social influences shaping science; and motivating readers who want to pursue their science as a political project. Indirect contributions—influences on and appropriations by other actors in the wider realm of biology as politics—are discussed as well as the more direct effects.” There’s a little autobiographical reflection by me, the author, woven in.
PT

Toffoletti, K. (2007). Cyborgs and Barbie dolls: Feminism, popular culture and the posthuman body. London: I.B. Tauris.
link
feminism, popular culture, cyborg, posthuman
Ever since I did a research project on Cindy Sherman’s photographic work, I’ve been wanting to shoot a series of photographs of Barbie & Ken dolls in drag (king and queen), or androgynous or hermaphrodite barbie…or creating other roles like knocked-up teenage barbie, or other characters that would call on something real…I’m not sure yet…
The book’s summary:
“Bringing a lively and accessible style to a complex subject, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls explores the idea of the “posthuman” and the ways in which it is represented in popular culture. Toffoletti explores images of the posthuman body from goth-rocker Marilyn Manson’s digitally manipulated self-portraits to the famous TDK “baby” adverts, and from the work of artist Patricia Piccinini to the curiously “plastic” form of the ubiquitous Barbie doll, controversially rescued here from her negative image. Drawing on the work of thinkers including Baudrillard, Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls explores the nature of the human – and its ambiguous gender – in an age of biotechnologies and digital worlds.”
RCB

UMass Boston WOST 290 (2010) “Legal Rights of Women timelines”
link
history, timeline, abortion rights
Timelines of legal rights in US at state & federal levels in relation to Abortion rights, birth control, * Domestic Violence * Employment * Family Law * Rape/Assault * Reproductive Technology
Downloadable pdfs.
PT

Ventura Santos, R. et al. 2009. “Color, Race, and Genomic Ancestry in Brazil: Dialogues between Anthropology and Genetics.” Current Anthropology 50:787–819.
link
genomics, race, STS
Looks at intersection between genetic ancestry and social definitions of race and color in Brazil. Researchers compared ancestry/race for a group of high schoolers in three ways: self-classification, peer-classification, and genetic testing. They then discussed the genetic test results (which showed much higher levels of European ancestry than students self-reported or classified their peers) with participants, and found most students were resistant to altering their ideas about their own race/ancestry based on genetic information. The authors argue that research on ancestry requires multiple methods of classification, social as well as biological. The paper also raises questions about how the Brazilian historical narrative about diversity shapes interpretations of genetic ancestry and race.
EB

Wilson, Duff. “Drug Firms Face Billions in Losses in ’11 as Patents End.” New York Times. March 6, 2011.
link
genomics, pharmaceutical, pharmacogenomics
This New York Times piece explains why finding ethnic niche drug markets is imperative for U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Many of the largest companies are facing expiring patents on some of their most profitable drugs, and new drug output has slowed in recent years, despite bigger investments in R&D. Many larger transnational companies are cutting back on research and looking to new areas for profit, such as personalized or population-based pharmacogenomics. From the article: “Companies are refining their approach toward personalized medicines and forming more partnerships. Using genetic or other tests, the plan is to sell new drugs not to millions and millions of people, but to those who would most clearly benefit.”
EB

Wilson, Elizabeth A. Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2004. Print.
Feminism, neurology, psychosomatic
Critiques the lack of applied psyche-soma relations in feminist approach. Draws a lot of references to Sigmund Freud alongside investigation that is oftentimes overlooked via body/mind. Wilson provides an extensive list of references worth the time in looking up. A lot of information about hysteria in the 19th-century and what is overlooked amongst physicians and feminists. Includes the importance of examining the body and including earlier work of Freud. Excellent text for those who wish to apply feminism or science in progressing the way medical narrative is examined and interpreted.
AC

Wood, Donald R.
link
PBL
This is a book–sorry the link isn’t an ebook on a precursor to some of Wood’s work. The book called Problem-Based Learning, explores the different stages one goes though in a PBL project, both academically as well as personally working in a group. Wood started using PBL with medical students and is now used in a variety of contexts.
MRC

Young, Robert M. (1992). Science, ideology, and Donna Haraway. Science as Culture, 15(3), 165-207.
link
science, ideology, haraway, culture, social
This is a hearty article which gives a background overview of the topic of ideology in science, ideology in science as a dichotomy, and movements that have challenged this dichotomy…The author then focuses the remainder of the article on a thorough review of Haraway’s book, “Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science.” He posits that science and ideology are “not just interdigitated but inextricably intertwined or mutually constitutive” for Haraway here. (RCB)
RCB

Zack, Naomi (2002). Philosophy of Science and Race. New York: Routledge.
link
biology, “bad”_science, colonialism, genome_phenome, race, scientific_racism, anthropology, essentialism
Zack looks at the history of philosophical racial essentialism (focusing on Hume and Kant) and discusses the relation race has with geography, phenotypes, genetics, and genealogy. (In the genealogy section, she has an interesting analysis of DuBois’ writings on race and the biological fallacies inherent in talking about “common blood” and “common ancestry.”
Her main argument in the book is that “race” is not an informative scientific (i.e. biological) category. Although it’s a helpful sociological category–to talk about discrimination and people’s beliefs about race–she predicts at the end of the book that if people publicly acknowledged that “race” wasn’t a biological category, it would lose most of its force as a social category.
An interesting analogy she draws in the book is between the idea of “race” and the idea of a “witch.” “Witches” (the medieval conception of them, as opposed to modern Wiccans) do not exist, but there was a time when people thought they existed. Although the term “witch” is useful for social scientists to talk about the beliefs that these people had, the scientists themselves would not want to start thinking that “witch” categorized an actual group of people with the properties ascribed to them as witches. This is a rough summary of a main point in her book: “race” is a false category in much the same way that “witch” is a false category. Furthermore, just as the category of witch being false didn’t stop countless women from being burned alive as witches, the category of race being false doesn’t stop racism from existing.
If it were acknowledged as false, however, that could have a large impact.
SG

link
STS, resources
Since the biblio also asks for resources, I’m linking to the bio of a Boston University sociology professor who studies “how science, gender, and organizations are connected and become institutionalized in contemporary knowledge-based communities.” She would be a great resources for anyone looking at gender and science. She has written on gender equality and hierarchy in the life sciences, most recently comparing academia and industry.
EB

Ideas of nature as ideas about society: Raymond Williams mapped

The history of ideas about nature can be read in terms of the social order being defended or promoted — see previous posts.  This post presents a schema of Raymond Williams’s history of changing and conflicting ideas about nature and what is natural.

Historical narrative and the representation of the complexity of interactions that link institutions, professions, organizations, knowledge, artifacts, and actors: Atsushi Akera on history and sociology of science and technology

David Hounshell characterizes Akera’s book Calculating a Natural World well when he says, as quoted on the book’s cover, that it “takes many of the familiar developments in the early history of digital electronic computing and recasts them so as to reveal the ‘ecologies of knowledge’ that gave rise to them, were transformed by them, and, in turn, further shaped these artifacts and practices… Akera thoughtfully relies on—and contributes to—constructivist and post-constructivist social theory, all the while basing his narrative on detailed historical research.”  The strength of the book—and of the articles that precede it—lies in the dialogue between the shaping of historical narrative and the representation of the complexity of interactions that link institutions, occupations/professions, organizations, knowledge, artifacts, and actors.  This dialogue presses at the limits on (or limitations of) both narrative and theoretical representation, especially with respect to: avoiding the determination of any layer of (or slice through) the complexity; capturing the interpretative openness (as against hermeneutic closure) for actors; and conveying the contingency and indeterminate quality of changes and of failed initiatives.

Consistent with this framing, Akera proposes that “the immense productivity of research during the Cold War era resulted from the productive tensions between institutions” (CANW, p. 4).   In contrast to the “relatively smooth process” by which the co-production of technology and social context has often been portrayed, Akera is interested in the “often-friction-ridden interplay of institutions, ideas, artifacts, and practices” (p.7).  His cases studies of Cold War research show that “[t]ensions and differences often produced redundant, over-ambitious, and incoherent research programs” (p. 10).  History of technology, he contends, needs to value the study of failure and to “make the notion of failure relative if one’s goal is to document the less linear paths of innovation” (p. 338).  In the spirit of symbolic interactionist sociology, Akera draws “attention to the contingent and indeterminate nature of institutional change” (p. 339), thus counterbalancing the functionalist emphasis he sees in some broader-brush historical sociology of technology.  Formation of new professions and forms of organizing technology “often occurred at the intersection of multiple institutions and disciplines,” and involved “recombining prior knowledge and preexisting institutional forms,” and various actors “letting go” of some commitments in order to forge new associations (p. 343).

Such theoretical themes are evident from the earliest of Akera’s essays.  “Engineers or Managers” (2000) describes post- World War II engineers venturing into marketing, operations research, and project management, re-engineering computers to “meet the needs of administrators as opposed to scientists” (p.191-2).  The National Bureau of Standards was involved in a variety of initiatives along these lines, but was never able to take a commanding position.  The detailed historical narrative in this essay allows Akera to build up to theoretically informed discussion in which he notes how, on one hand, the flexibility of this history resonates with a symbolic interactionist (or social worlds) emphasis on “specific sites of interaction where social reproduction and transformation occur” (p. 212), while, on the other hand, the persistence of some ideas and distinctions in the narrative provides an opportunity to reintegrate the social structure that is un(der)theorized in symbolic interactionism.  The Technology and Culture article (2001) similarly narrates a non-deterministic development of professions and organizational change.  The 1950s IBM user group, Share, originated as an attempt to reduce programming costs, but contributed to the development of occupational identities among the recruits, who had been drawn from a variety of established occupations.  Moreover, Share required corporate collaboration in contrast to the conventional expectation of competition for resources.  The Business History Review article (2002) shows how the research specialists who made up IBM’s Applied Science department developed as “agents of their customers rather than agents of IBM” (p. 795) and, while their initiatives were not always being successful, the result was that “a firm situated outside the traditional defense industries forged new institutional alliances between business and government and between science and industry” (p. 767).

The Social Studies of Science article (2007) on ecologies of knowledge builds wonderfully on the historical-theoretical work of the book and earlier essays.  It gives a stronger analytic purchase to the idea of ecology of knowledge (EoK) and lays the basis for a practical methodology.  Often EoK has been used to refer in general terms to the heterogeneous complexity of factors, resources, and relationships implicated in the production of knowledge.  This paper gets more specific.  It explores a layered representation for an EoK in which layers correspond to different representational scales, e.g., actors,… occupations,… institutions,… historical events.  This approach focuses on the whole-part relationship (metonymy) and facilitates the study of the dynamic relationships among the layers as they develop over time.  The more encompassing entities can be seen as metonymically instantiated through local practices, a move that avoids imputation of causality “to entities that reside on one side or the other of the sociotechnical divide” (p. 417).  This is not an abstract schematization but is well illustrated through diagrammatic and textual reconstructions of historical case studies, such as Vannevar Bush’s research program centered around the differential analyzer and the emergence of systems programming as an occupation after World War II.

Akera advances four main uses of this multi-layered representation of EoK: 1) visualizations (or diagrammatic depictions) of EoK can help in elaborating on the relationships described in historical and sociological narratives and in pointing to relationships that were not evident or explicitly stated; 2) questions posed within any one layer can be illuminated, e.g., concerning the development of technical professions; 3) more precise understandings of concepts in STS can be produced, e.g., “technoscience”; and 4) through mapping the different methodologies employed in the various areas of STS—especially as they relate to the broader scope of social analyses—more reflexive understanding of the use of these methodologies can emerge.

Akera claims that this representation of EoK is a phenomenological not epistemological project (p. 415), but I believe he is overly cautious or modest here.  After all, he is asking us not simply to note the existence of heterogeneous, scale-spanning complexity, with its associated contingency and indeterminacy, but to struggle with its analysis and visualization.  Philosophy of science and theory in SSS does not yet have a strong handle on this. As Akera notes, each of his suggested uses of the EoK representation brings “historical evidence into sociology [not] by pitting the particularism of history against the generalizations of social theory, but by encouraging the use of the empirical wealth of history, as mediated by the representation, to support a more grounded appraoch to social theory” (p. 435).  This essay is careful, thoughtful, and thought-provoking and I look forward to future rereadings—as well as to re-viewings of the innovative flash animations of his case studies from his publications.  I believe other readers who have followed the STS scholarship on heterogeneous complexity, actor-network theory, ecologies of knowledge will be greatly stimulated by this contribution. Akera refers to this project as a parallel line of inquiry to research on his book projects, but I expect (or hope) it will not move onto the backburner as he and others, including myself use it to stimulate the thinking and inquiry of our graduate students and colleagues.

written August 2007

References

Atsushi Akera.

2000. Engineers or Managers? The Systems Analysis of Electronic Data Processing in the Federal Bureaucracy, ” in Systems, Experts and Computers, ed. Agatha Hughes and Thomas Hughes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

2001. Voluntarism and the Fruits of Collaboration: The IBM User Group, Share.  Technology and Culture – 42(4): 710-736

2002. IBM’s Early Adaptation to Cold War Markets: Cuthbert Hurd and His Applied Science Field Men, Business History Review 76: 767-802.

2007. Calculating a natural world:
scientists, engineers, and computers during the rise of U.S. cold war research.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

2007. Constructing a Representation for an Ecology of Knowledge: Methodological Advances in the Integration of Knowledge and its Various Contexts, Social Studies of Science, 37(3): 413-441

Intersecting processes, illustrated and analyzed II

The following discussion illustrates how socio-environmental studies, such as the case of soil erosion from the previous post and those of political ecology more generally (Peet and Watts 1996), provide rich material for exploring the problematic boundedness of ecological complexity (one of the shifts of emphasis mentioned at the end of Chapter 4 in Taylor 2005), and for amplifying themes introduced in earlier chapters of that book.
1. Intersecting processes involve inseparable dynamics. Processes of different kinds and scales, involving heterogeneous elements, are interlinked in the production of any outcome and in their own on-going transformation. Each is implicated in the others (even by exclusion, such as when caciques kept maize production during the nineteenth century insulated from external markets). Notice especially the relationship between environmental degradation and the population decline shown in the top strand. This association can be used to grab the attention of environmentalists who identify population growth as a major environmental issue. However, it is neither population decline nor growth, but labor that was important in this case. Labor is something defined by the technologies of production (the second strand) and the social institutions that govern it. Such institutions operate both locally (the third strand) and at places distant from where the erosion occurs (the fourth strand). In short, the relationship between population and environmental change was highly mediated, depending on the technologies used and the local and national social and economic institutions through which labor and production were organized. No one kind of thing, no single strand on its own, is sufficient to explain the currently eroded hillsides. (This theme can be extended to call into question other explanations for environmental degradation that center on a single dynamic or process, e.g., climate change in erosive landscapes; increasing capitalist exploitation of natural resources; or modernization of production methods.)

The theme of inseparable dynamics can be teased out into four aspects:
2. In intersecting social-environmental processes, differentiation among unequal agents is implicated. Sustainable maize production depended on a moral economy of cacique and peasants, and the inequality among these agents resulted from a long process of social and economic differentiation. Similarly, the demise of this agro-ecology involved the unequal power of the State over local caciques, of urban industrialists over rural interests, and of workers who remitted cash to their communities over those who continued agricultural labor.
3. Heterogeneous elements and scales are involved. The situation has involved processes operating at different spatial and temporal scales, involving elements as diverse as the local climate and geo-morphology, social norms, work relations, and national political economic policy;
4. Historical contingency is significant. The role of the Mexican revolution in the collapse of nineteenth-century agro-ecology reveals the contingency that is characteristic of history. The significance of such contingency rests not on the event of the revolution itself, but on the different processes, each having a history, with which the revolution intersected; and
5. Structuredness is not reducible to micro- or macro-determinations. Although there is no reduction to macro- or structural determination in the account of soil erosion, the focus is neither on local, individual-individual transactions nor on the complex patterns produced by multiple simple transactions. Regularities, e.g., the terraces and the moral economy, persist long enough for agents to recognize or abide by them. That is, structuredness is discernable in the intersecting processes.

Continued in a final post in this series

Extracted from Taylor, Peter J. 2005. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement. U. Chicago Press.

Reference

Peet, R. and M. Watts (Eds.) (1996). Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements. London: Routledge.

Ideas of nature as ideas about society: Raymond Williams extended

The history of ideas about nature can be read in terms of the social order being defended or promoted, as described well by Raymond Williams (1980) (and explored in the “trialogue” of previous posts). This schema (which evolved through my teaching of Williams’s theme during the 90s) extends this theme. (Reference: Williams, R. 1980. “Ideas of Nature,” in Problems of Materialism and Culture. London: Verso, 67-85.)

nature = actual physical, material (incl. living) world “nature” = idea about nature
read literally 

(right way for us to behave or for society to be ordered; or we can expect problems if we deviate; or we better be careful if we choose to deviate)

interpreted  

(invoking external authority is a way to avoid debating social issues head on)

•tells us about favored social order & actions

plus

untouched by human activity •provides/d potential “natural resources” 

•decreasing -> very little left now

•natural resources determine social/ econ. possibilities 

•”tells us about how things work without human influence impinging”

•suppresses history of human laboring and differentiation*
including human activity humans buffeted by non-human forces, e.g., in past or prehistoric times, or w/ extreme events •much human-made transformation through history and even in prehistory 

•very little unambiguous evidence about pre-historic human social arrangements

“where society’s influence has not mitigated such forces we can learn about what’s natural, incl. human nature” •discounts history of human laboring and differentiation* 

* & the role of States

humans dominating, e.g., in industrial- ized societies •ever intensifying transformations of non-human realm and of human biology 

•very little unambiguous evidence about behavioral or social universals

“biology/ human nature constrains/ predisposes behavior in the full range of social/ economic activities” •the emphasis on behavioral universals & humans as a species discounts differences and on-going differentiation among social groups & societies*

Nature, a conversation IV

Partovo:  Agreed.  But you should remember that some people move into such areas when the price of real estate drops to levels they can afford.  That’s the way markets work to balance supply and demand.  Dare I say, it’s a natural process?

The previous post ended as above.  Continuing the three roles: Partovo (“Humans are a Part Of nature”); Separata (“Humans have become Separate from nature”); or Interpreta (“Interpret Socially views about nature and what is natural”)…

Interpreta:  I suspected you would.  And by that thinking it’s then natural or, one might say, acceptable, that the people who move into the area suffer the health costs, while the corporations that secured the military R&D contracts gain the profits.  The general point I want to make is that almost everything that both of you has said in trying to defend your views about nature has been based on your views about acceptable vs. unacceptable aspects of society.  So, Separata, I don’t think “nature” holds up as a point of reference for deciding what’s acceptable or not.

Separata:  But if not nature, what else?

Interpreta:  You’ve already told us what — for you it’s human health and ecological sustainability; for Partovo, it’s economic growth, with risks that can be distributed unequally among groups within society.

Partovo:  I might observe that the notion that we can plan for ecological sustainability in a complex world sounds as full of “unsupported assumptions” as Separata criticized me for having with respect to economic growth and technological development.

Interpreta:  Right — I’m glad Separata’s point sunk in enough for you to wield it in return…. Separata, you’re looking perplexed.  What are you thinking?

Separata:  I know ecology is complex, all the more so when humans are involved — as is almost always the case.  And I admit that I invoke simple ideas such as “draining wetlands disturbs the balance of nature.”  But I do this to grab attention.  Once I have it, I can point out the decline of waterbird and migrating bird populations and get people interested in checking development.  I just wouldn’t get to first base if I said, “I’m against development.”

Partovo:  And you’re not against all development, either.  I think you like national parks to be fenced off from farms and for those parks to be managed so that campers don’t destroy the forests, kill the animals, pollute the lakes…

Separata:  And you’re not for all development either.  I think you like the vacations I’ve heard you take on the clean uncrowded beaches of Cuba.

Partovo:  (Sheepishly)  And I’ve also enjoyed going with my family on nature tours in the Amazon and in Kenya.

Separata:  But, back to my worry.  I have to reduce complexity if I’m going to get attention and enlist people into a campaign.  It’s not until we have people involved that we can even get research done on the ecological dynamics — to establish how vulnerable the wetland is; how quickly it could recover from stress; whether we can create a new wetland on land developers don’t want.  And that’s just the research needed on the ecological dynamics.  Imagine if I had to research the economic costs and benefits before raising my concerns!

Partovo:  You could rely on developers to assess the costs and benefits.  They wouldn’t go ahead if they were likely to take a loss.

Separata:  There you go again — you forget that corporations make sure that they don’t carry all the costs.  They displace some on to other people and rely on not having to pay for loss of wildlife populations when development destroys the animals’ habitats.

Partovo:  OK, but let me echo your concerns.  If we had to assess all the costs — present and future, social and environmental — of proposed projects, it’d take years before we could advance on new industry and other development.  The economy would be greatly constrained.  And we all need a vibrant economy.

Separata:  We don’t all benefit equally and some bear greater costs…

Partovo:  … OK. OK.  But that’s unavoidable.  Anyway, egregious abuses eventually lead to reform legislation and government regulation.

Interpreta:  That seems a very coarse way to take environmental and health costs into account.

to be continued

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