Accepted Paper:

Knowledge, intimacy & being alongside the life sciences of ageing  

Author:

Joanna Latimer (University of York)

Paper short abstract:

Ethnographic research about the life sciences relies upon researchers getting inside a domain whose belongings can appear to position them as Other. In this paper, I explore the affects and effects of a methodology that deliberately promotes 'being alongside' (Latimer 2013) life scientists.

Paper long abstract:

Ethnographic STS research about the life sciences relies upon researchers getting inside a domain whose belongings can appear to position them as, methodologically at least, Other. In this paper, I explore the affects and effects of a methodology that deliberately promotes 'being alongside' (Latimer 2013) life scientists in STS research. 'Intimacy' as a quality of relations does not just run counter to professionalism, objectivity and scientific methodologies, but is often constituted as dangerous to their modes of ordering. Within this perspective intimacy has traditionally been relegated to the sexual, the domestic, and the family spheres, and has had no place as a quality of scientific knowledge-making. Indeed, I explore how knowledge produced as an effect of intimate relations can be disruptive of the mainstream because it can assert an alternative imaginary to those versions of reality which dominate. Because of this intimacy and affect as critical to the making of professional and scientific worlds, leads to struggles in mundane communities of practice, and to their absence from dominant versions of knowledge-making and science. My discussion draws upon my experiments with possibilities for creating biosocial understandings of health and ageing. This research depends upon (some) life scientists and I being affected by each other's world-making. I particularly focus on how moments of intimacy are critical to this work of being alongside and explore how and when they facilitate experiments in intimate entanglement, and unexpected struggles in common, particularly struggles over how to keep giving knowledge life.

Panel A15
Intimate entanglements in science and technology