Accepted Paper:

Why Bogotá? The local, the global, and the interesting. Or: STS, here and there  


Malcolm Ashmore (Loughborough University)
Olga Restrepo Forero (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)

Paper short abstract:

Is doing STS in/from Lancaster 'the same thing' as doing STS in/from Bogotá? Is every-one and every-where equivalently 'placed'? In this presentation some of the issues involved - the fractal character of centre-periphery relations; what counts as 'local' or 'global' - are explored dialogically.

Paper long abstract:

At one of the weekly seminars of our STS group in Bogotá, Colombia, a native of New York City, USA, currently studying for her PhD in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, presented her work. She was studying IVF practice in Bogotá; that is (as we initially wanted to understand it) she was studying IVF practice, and she happened to be studying it in Bogotá (for 'uninteresting' reasons). Doing so meant treating this particular place as not particular; and, crucially, not treating it as the exotic source of a comparison with standard IVF practice done elsewhere (in New York City or Edinburgh). And immediately the question arose and persisted: Why Bogotá? Why study IVF here? What is interesting about Bogotá in this context? (And eventually a different question: is Bogotá uninteresting enough to sustain such a 'place/space-disinterested' approach?) Which are questions which, we claim, would not likely be asked if a similar presentation was taking place in-or-about a different Here, one situated in, perhaps, some Where in the 'centre' - like Lancaster...

Our dialogical presentation will explore some of the complexities involved here: questions of place/space in the provenance of knowledge; the tension between the new 'localist' emphasis in STS and the traditional idea of science's universalism; of centre-periphery relations, and their relational and fractal character; of the local and the global; of what is interesting, or not, and why, and where, and to whom.

Panel C12
Colliding theories, cultures, and futures. STS view(s) beyond the horizon. Or: STS diaspora