relocating science and technology

Global Knowledge, Traveling Technologies and Postcolonialism.
Perspectives on Science and Technology Studies in the Global South

Call for papers for a workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, Germany, from 18 through 20 July 2012. Here’s a snippet:

As an interdisciplinary endeavour to study knowledge systems and technologies, Science and Technology Studies (STS) have become popular within the humanities and social sciences over the last three decades. However, most of the canon as well as recent scholarly work concentrate on Euro-American techno-science. Social scientists involved in STS focused mainly on the centres of western scientific knowledge production, thereby neglecting large parts of the world. While the relationship between technoscientific knowledge and postcolonial orders has been the subject of increasing discussion within the last two decades (Seth 2009), it is only recently that scholars have tried to establish a more sustained dialogue with postcolonial perspectives on science and technology (Harding 1998; Anderson 2002; Redfield 2002; Rottenburg 2009; Philip, Irani & Dourish 2011). In 2008, Richard Rottenburg, Trevor Pinch, Otto Sibum and Suman Seth organized a conference on Places of Knowledge: Relocating Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. This workshop is a follow-up to this meeting. By focusing on the concept of the ‘Global South’ in conjunction with that of ‘postcolonialism’ we wish to draw attention to ever more globalizing dynamics of power, fashion, money or institutional problematizations. Accordingly, the workshop asserts the need to relocate STS by re-considering the interconnectedness of knowledge production, technology design and transfer, geopolitical categories and the particular issues, that different contexts produce. It is our contention that perspectives from the Global South may contribute not so much in describing nation states or specific regions in a historical moment, but enable us to better understand the interconnected processes that drive science and technology within a globalized world. We particularly call for contributions and participants that focus on non-classical STS contexts (i.e. the Global South). Contributions with case studies from Africa, Latin America and Asia are expected to challenge or at least to comment on existing methodological and theoretical concepts within STS.

In a way this is funny, at least to me. It was in Halle where I organized my first workshop on cyberanthropology—at the 2005 biannual conference of the GAA. The campus of the university there is comparatively small. A flock of ancient and modern buildings right in the city’s center, nicely grouped around a sloping forum. The weather was fine, so on the first day everywhere in the forum groups of anthropologists were standing around, conference program in hand, discussing the upcoming panels and workshops. Back then only few people there knew who I was, and didn’t know how I look. So I could freely mingle and eavesdrop on the conversations. Somehow the workshop title ‘Cyberanthropology’ and the abstract had hit a nerve and there was quite some badmouthing like ‘That ain’t anthropology at all,’ or ‘Why did the GAA accept that?’ up to ‘Who does this guy think he is.’ … now, see above and look where we are today :-)
    To be fair: the workshop was more than very well attended, full-house in one of the bigger halls actually. This shows that the badmouthing I overheard was not at all representative.

via entry at ethno::log
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