AO: As mentioned in another exhibit artifact, this research project looking at mobile phone usage at the base of the pyramid in Kenya was taken up widely by local and global media. As a result, I ended up spending a lot of time fielding media interviews and quickly realized that it was very difficult to have the complexity of the research translate into quick media bytes. I was frustrated on numerous occasions by the over-simplification of our work and sometimes the gross misinformation that became amplified by media. This is something I emphasized to the interviewer from VOA and I think that is why she was also careful to include many of my direct quotes. However, this experience grappling with media coverage of the BoP research was nothing compared to the public facing engagement that was needed with our Umati project which looked at online social media discussions in the run up to the 2013 Kenyan elections. As a result of these two experiences (and others), iHub Research developed a much more explicit and intentional strategy for engaging with media. We worked to be more proactive in engaging media by developing a press-kit and hosting press events so that we could take advantage of media attention and leveraging it to share nuanced research findings and spur discussions. I think you can see this strategy paying off in our subsequent projects such as 3Vs and later phases of Umati.
Fearnley is identifying a shift in the epistemology and practices of scientists as they move from the lab to the field and poses the question of what this might mean for anthropologists of science: "In this essay, I argue that the changing sites and objects of contemporary influenza research are shifting the epistemological relation of the sciences to nature as scientists in the field come to see natural sites as human artifacts" (30). In this particular case, he documents a shift in virologists' conceptions of the "domestic-wild" interface that was influenced by the practices of goose breeders at Poyang Lake. Due to market demands, these breeders had developed a practice of "cultivating wildness" that problematized the virologists domestic-wild binary opposition. The virologists needed to abandon their previous categories of analysis--as well as the clean, controlled world of the laboratory--in order to come to grips with the messiness of the field and the open, emergent interaction of nature and society.
According to Fearnly, this also forces anthropologists to rethink the role of scientists and the lab in production of scientific knowledge. Laboratory studies, like those inspired by Latour, are not sufficient for understanding the production of scientific knowledge in the field. Lab sciences are about enclosure (detachment, purification, etc.). Field sciences, when they are at their best, account for, analyze, and engender openness. In a sense, Fearnly is describing an anthropologization of science, where they take on an “ethic of openness to new theory, to new topics, and to the possibility that the very categories of analysis that we have relied on in the past should be set aside” (Fortun 2003, 172). The production of world altering science is not confined to the lab and scientists are not the only human actors that create or alter the world. Field scientists, of both the social and natural varieties, are researching moving targets, ontologically unstable worlds that are impacted by diverse actors.
In my opinion one can make a strong case that STS (like “sociology of scientiﬁc
knowledge” before it) is a project rather than a discipline or a science, and is recognized as such by its practitioners. It is a shared goal, namely, the unpacking and challenging of technocratic authority, that gives coherence to STS, rather than any aspirations to a uniﬁed theory, or any agreed bounding or framing of the object of analysis. The ﬁeld of STS is essentially political, a spectrum of exercises in demystiﬁcation ranging from the gendering of electric shavers to the transnational governance of nuclear power to claims about the separation of the social and the natural. (49-50)
STS does not constitute a challenge to philosophy of science in general, but
only to certain specific traditions within philosophy of science. (54)
The field may, then, also be understood as building a bridge for dialog in various senses:
first, between scholars and academics from other fields in the social sciences tackling specific Latin American social questions without paying particular attention to the development of science and technology (S&T), or to its causes and consequences, histories, and future challenges. Second, it also bridges the gaps between other actors, as well as practicing scientists and engineers, who have increasingly been recognizing the value of SSST to help them understand their own practices and think about their consequences. This bridge extends further to the various authorities – “decision-makers” or “policy-makers,” as they are often termed – who have, in recent years, been approaching and interacting with those working on a (typically critical) analytical approach to scientific and technological development. Last, though no less important, there are the reflections on how S&T’s affects our societies and how to actively intervene in decisions that could be taken more collectively and participatively. (19-20)
Kreimer and Vessuri propose to solve the issue of "internal" versus "external" histories of the STS field by repurposing the concept of "reflexivity," familiar to the social sciences, for an analysis of how the field of STS has been shaped (19). This is in contrast to using reflexivity to identify in what contexts knowledge is produced.
The current bifurcation between “IK” and “science” is not productive and does not facilitate the discussions that are needed on intellectual heritage or the relationship between sciences and coloniality.
The current South African policy on indigenous knowledge systems is heavily invested in the neoliberal knowledge economy.
Franklin is trying to make room for an anthropology of science and technology within the discourse of STS. She argues that anthropology has a uniquely reflexive disposition that stresses the partiality of representation and is therefore well suited to help assuage the intensity and limit the casualties of the “science wars.”
Rouse argues that recent work in the philosophy of science shows a post “science wars” convergence between philosophies and social studies of science. This suggested convergence consists of four constructive thematic overlaps between the philosophers, anthropologists, and cultural historians of science: 1) a greater appreciation for the complexity of causation and a shift from explaining causation nomologically to theorizing “causal relations as an unavoidable target of scientific understanding” (14); 2) work on theoretical modeling, discursive practices, and experimental systems that shifts analytical energy from de/constructing the grounds of scientific truth claims to “how the sciences articulate our understanding of the world” (7); 3) a more nuanced, case-study style of approach to researching the localized and contingent nature of concept production in science; 4) works investigating the relationship between epistemic/conceptual understanding and perception/action. Rouse does not suggest that these convergences signify an ensuing utopic relationship between these historically oppositional fields. Rather he suggests that reading outside one’s discipline is necessary to produce constructive collaborations that shed light on the limits of any single disciplinary approach when pursued in isolation.