Cultures of Science & Technology
Science and technology figure centrally in the economic, political, and socio-cultural changes that impact our worlds. Happenings in the life sciences, including the discovery of new genes, pathways, and processes, are redrawing concepts of the body and human nature and refiguring social and political relations. This seminar starts from the premise that scientific facts are made, not things existing a priori in the world and that are merely picked up by researchers and consumed by lay audiences. Likewise, technologies are created through a process of intense negotiation between producers and their sophisticated users. Focusing on the biosciences, we explore the production of science and technology and how they 1) affect individuals, self-identities, subjectivity, kinship, and social relationships; 2) have interacted with or reinforced political programs, racial classifications, unequal access to knowledge, and patterns of social injustice; and 3) inform contemporary institutional structures, strategies of governance, and practices of citizenship. We will combine methods and perspectives from social and cultural anthropology, and the social studies of science and technology, and will draw from historical case studies, contemporary ehtnographies of science, scientific and medical journals, documentary films and media reports.