Accepted Paper:

Yearning for Justice: The Politics of the Social in Technoscience  

Author:

Coleen Carrigan (California Polytechnic State University)

Paper short abstract:

This ethnography connects social justice aspirations, epistemic biases and labor segregation in technoscience to suggest that the yearning of underrepresented knowledge producers to reproduce collective well-being may inspire new possibilities for the creation and applications of technology.

Paper long abstract:

Emerging evidence suggests that social justice aspirations play a role in patterns of labor segregation in technoscience. Contributing to this growing body of scholarship, this paper draws on two ethnographic studies of underrepresented groups in technoscience within neoliberal institutions stratified by race, gender and class to explore the hierarchies of value between social and technical knowledge production. I investigate reigning ideologies that privilege empirical evidence over qualitative data and dismiss socially applied education and research. This epistemic bias, a cultural legacy of imperialist, capitalist patriarchy, shapes underrepresented scholars' perception that technoscience is detached from social concerns and lacks meaningful applications. While some underrepresented group members chose to divest their talents from technoscience fields, those who persist must navigate institutions that presume them less competent and demean their yearning to make a difference in society. I trace moments of rupture in my participants' stories, when and where they feel the tension between their own aspirations and the cultural norms of their disciplines, to excavate and interrogate the origins and purposes of exclusion in technoscience. My participants' lives, careers and aspirations not only challenge assumptions of who is allowed to participate, and what counts as knowledge, but also the false binary between reproductive and productive spheres. A focus on their yearning to contribute to the reproduction of the collective well-being of society may inspire new possibilities for interdisciplinary collaborations and institutional transformations that reimagine and reshape the purposes and applications of technology.

Panel T100
Feminist Technoscience Studies in Unexpected Places: (Intra)Activism and Social Justice