Conferences: tracking shifts in disciplinary boundaries and professional hierarchies
Sandra P. González-Santos
Paper short abstract:
This paper tracks the shifts and negotiations of disciplinary boundaries and professional hierarchies performed at conferences, seeking to highlight the importance of conferences as sites where ART, as both a field and an industry, is being created.
Paper long abstract:
"When we see a panel on lab issues, we turn the other way!" These words were said by a physician during his presentation at the 2007 annual meeting of the Mexican Association of Assisted Reproduction. At that meeting, biologists had their streams and panels to which physicians did not attend, there were no biologists as keynote speakers, and the exhibit area displayed mostly tools for physicians (e.g., ultrasound machines). Ten years later this annual conference had a slightly different configuration. Biologists where now present at the association's board meeting and the exhibit hall was mostly dedicated to laboratory material (e.g., incubators, petri dishes, and pipettes); yet, biologists were still not keynote speakers. Likewise, during the 68th anniversary ceremony of the same medical association (celebrated also in 2017), the keynote speech focused on honouring the two most prominent biologists, giving them public recognition for their trajectory and involvement in the first Mexican ART success stories. Can analysing conferences and meetings such as these helps us trace changes in the way assisted reproduction is being configured as a biomedical industry? Can we witness the drawing and negotiating of disciplinary boundaries and hierarchies by studying conferences? This paper draws on ten years of ethnographic work engaged in exploring the Mexican ART industrial complex from a STS postcolonial perspective. It specifically focuses on tracing the shifts and negotiations of disciplinary boundaries and professional hierarchies that take place between biologists and physicians at professional conferences.
A panel on panels: studying academic conference practice