Beyond matter, beyond concern? Rethinking implication in social sciences

The STS-b research group is pleased to invite you to a seminar titled «Beyond matter, beyond concern? Rethinking implication in social sciences», which aims to discuss the following papers in the light of the ethical turn in STS (Science and Technology Studies) proposed by Maria Puig de la Bellacasa.

«Matters of Care as Politics: Toxicity, Containment and Bio-Animacy in Puchuncaví» by Manuel Tironi (Instituto de Sociología, Universidad Catòlica de Chile | Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths College London).

Inspired by pragmatists philosophies, Science and Technology Studies (STS) have attempted to revise some key tenets of political theory. This revision has entailed, first, an interest on ‘publicness’ as both the site and the objective of political experiments and collective action. And second, a call to recognise the mediating role of materials, technologies and non-humans in general in the articulation of political collectives, issues and demonstrations. By drawing on the notion of matters of care, in this paper I problematise the actionist and mediationist assumptions mobilised by STS. Through an ethnographic account of the caring practices unfolded in Puchuncaví, one of the most polluted areas in Chile, I speculate about the nature of politics when articulated from the experience of harm, affection and repair. More specifically, I suggest that through the unfolding of care politics appears as a practice not just mediated by non-humans but also implicated in the sensitive enlivenment of the manyfold entities conforming the bios. I also suggest that this form of politics is related to intimate strategies, domestic tinkering and bodily experiments – rather than to sublime public action. I mobilise the notions of bio-animacy and containment to think about this shifts and to re-imagine an STS-oriented political theory.

«Wondering about What Matters: The Adventure of Relevance and a Social Science to Come» by Martín Savransky (Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process, Goldsmiths College, London)

The contemporary crisis of the social sciences is often expressed by a series of variegated demands for relevance. While the demands that social scientific knowledges become (more) relevant seem to produce a generalised consensus, none of them ensues from a serious philosophical reflection about what something called ‘relevance’ is, and what its requirements and implications might be. Rather, they seem to presuppose that ‘relevance’ is a value, a new criterion, that is added to certain knowledges and whose achievement depends upon recognition by a public. In this paper I will contend that this subjectivist view is extremely problematic. By drawing on the philosophies of William James and Alfred North Whitehead, I will argue that relevance belongs not to a subjective appreciation of an otherwise irrelevant world, but that it is itself of the world. Namely, I will suggest that it inheres in the nature of facts and it begins from the self-evident experience that ‘things matter’. Taking such an experience as a point of departure, I will show that the implications that follow are much more radical and transformative than what any of the contemporary demands for relevance seem to expect (or desire). Indeed, to affirm that things matter will prompt us to resist the very distinction between facts and values in an unprecedented way, and will open up the speculative adventure of imagining another social science to come. A mode of social inquiry, that is, that would wonder about the situated question of ‘how is it, here, that things matter?’

Date: Wednesday, 25th June 2014

Time: 15:00 – 18:00 h.

Place: Media-TIC Building, Roc Boronat street, 117, 7th floor, William J. Mitchell Hall, 08018 Barcelona

The seminar will be held in English and Spanish.

It is highly recommended to read the following paper for the session: Puig de la Bellacasa, M. (2011). Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social Studies of Science, 41(1), 85–106.

IMPORTANT: Free registration by registering here

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