Geographies of knowledge production and legacy of postsocialist technoscience
Location Marcus Merriman Lecture Theatre (Bowland North)
Date and Start Time 25 Jul, 2018 at 13:00
Sessions 2


  • Krzysztof Abriszewski (Nicolaus Copernicus University) email
  • Andrzej Wojciech Nowak (Adam Mickiewicz University) email
  • Marcin Zaród (Kozminski University ) email

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Short abstract

The aim of the panel is to address the problem of political entanglements both of technosciences and STS today by taking into account geographies of knowledge production, role of the Second World and presence/absence of political utopias (socialist, communist, others).

Long abstract

The aim of the panel is to address the problem of political entanglements both of technosciences and STS today by taking into account geographies of knowledge production, role of the Second World and presence/absence of political utopias. We would like to focus on three broad, yet overlapping problem areas:

1. Geographic asymmetries of knowledge production and their functions (e.g. A. Prasad's complex paths of technoscientific innovations).

2. Spectral (dis)appearance of "the Second World" (e.g. L. Medina's example of syllabuses with theoretical texts coming from center and peripheral texts adding local adjustements).

3. Consequences for technosciences of the fall of socialism: 1. as vital social utopia; 2. as historical and political demise of the socialist block.

Problems addressed in papers may include for example:

- What travels where? What are the crucial translations in geographies of knowledge production? What and where are trading zones?

- Suitcase science versus grey digital circulation (as semi-peripheral and peripheral forms)

- Technoscience as politics made by other means within asymmetrical power relations

- Technoscience of the Second World - or spectre of technoscience in (the spectre of) the Second World?

- Ideologies and their residues as ontological objects; material infrastructures of ideologies

- Ideologies in the context of geographies of knowledge

- What has been lost with the spectre of communism: as hope (J. Bernal) and/or as threat (Soviet empire, cold war)?

- What is political and geographical landscape of technoscience and STS today?

- Is technoscience today an ally or an enemy of social justice and social solidarity?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


"You can taste it in the wine": making minerality matter in post-socialist Hungary

Authors: June Brawner (University of Georgia) email
Jennifer Thompson (University of Georgia) email
Aaron Thompson (University of Georgia) email
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Short abstract

This paper accounts for terroir, the "taste of place", as scientifically/socially co-produced (Jasanoff 2004). Using ethnography and soil sampling in a historic Hungarian wine region, we examine post-socialist terroir-crafting through connections between minerality, ideological legacies, and taste.

Long abstract

Terroir, or "the taste of place" (Trubek 2008), is the unique assemblage of environmental and cultural factors that define a particular geography, essentialized in the food products of that region: a simultaneously scientific and social mechanism of exclusive quality. Empirical accounts of terroir are debated in environmental sciences (e.g. Gladstones 2011), yet the elusive terroir is given legal expression through policies such as Geographical Indications (GIs) (Josling 2006). GIs define and regulate the origins of "localized" foods, protecting them as intellectual property (Gangjee 2013), represented by labels.

Using the STS idiom of co-production (Jasanoff 2004), we account for the meeting of material landscapes and ideologies in the production of post-socialist terroir wines using a case study from the second oldest GI: the Tokaj wine region in Hungary (1737). We examine the (re)creation and implications of terroir post-1989, particularly, the role of soil science in historic and contemporary demarcations of its exclusive geography. Following a village-level initiative to (re)brand this wine region, which hinges on distinction through soil minerality, we ask: How is soil science (and its methodologies) deployed in the reification of terroir, making ideologies of difference material features of landscapes? This question is answered using a mixed methods approach involving participatory soil sampling and ethnography/participant-observation. We propose this case study as exemplary of the co-production of social and scientific realms (Jasanoff 2004): the translation of terroir in post-socialist geographies presents soil science as a socio-political enterprise. Co-authored paper: June Brawner, Aaron Thompson, Miguel Cabrera, and Jennifer Jo Thompson.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. - Key examples of post-soviet military equipment solutions in development of armed forces in central Europe after the Cold War

Author: Piotr Krzyzanski (Adam Mickiewicz University) email
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Short abstract

The aim of the following paper is to establish a pattern to a modernisation involving post-soviet military equipment solutions in central Europe in the Cold-War period. Research is based on carefully selected case studies and shows both: similarities and differences between particular patterns.

Long abstract

The end of the Cold-War and collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in political and technological withdrawal of Moscow's influence over Central Europe. As both factors are crucial for maintaining combat capabilities of modern army, post-soviet countries in this region had to find their way through these difficult times. Especially taking into consideration massive economic costs of military equipment combined with financial turmoil of the 1990s.

The aim of the following paper is to establish a pattern to somewhat spontaneous actions involving post-soviet military equipment solutions, which were necessary to maintain and develop combat capabilities of armed forces in central Europe. Research is based on wide range of military journals, particularly from above mentioned region. Establishing of pattern was possible through comparative research on carefully selected case studies. In result it was possible to find similarities and differences between patterns related to particular types of equipment and users. This present unique flexibility of both: post-soviet armed forces and weapons, but also its limits.

Local ecological knowledges and the North-South knowledge divide: consequences for citizen science and participatory approaches

Authors: Sara MacBride-Stewart (Cardiff University) email
Zeeda Fatimah Mohamad (Faculty of Science, University of Malaya) email
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Short abstract

Local ecological knowledges are often “globalized” but less is known about tools based in two-way directional flows promoting south-south or south-north collaborations. The paper examines questions about agenda setting and transferability from the perspective of a novel transcultural Heartware’ citizen science approach in a Malaysian context.

Long abstract

Local ecological knowledge is knowledge, resulting from lived experience, which is situated in its context. It can advance or supplement scientific knowledge and help contribute to its debates, making the process of knowledge-making more inclusive. In an environmental context, its use in predicting small ecological changes, mapped across people’s enduring personal histories with place, helps to fill the data gap at a local level (Karlsson, 2002). Despite its attention to the local, the methods and concepts of local ecological knowledges are often “globalized” so that methodologies generated in other ecological zones are used in alternate socioeconomic, cultural and political settings. While scholars have raised concerns about the transplantation of methodological and technical solutions such as citizen science methodologies, from the global north to the south, less is known about those tools based in two-way directional flows that assign value to knowledges emanating from the South, promoting south-south or even south-north collaborations. This paper addresses those challenges from the perspective of a ‘transcultural Heartware’ citizen science approach for integrated watershed management – developed in Japan and adapted in a Malaysian based context. The approach highlights six functional values - industry, ecosystem, lifestyle, landscape, water resource and spirituality; this paper pays particular attention to the landscape-spirituality links because of their significance to the Malaysian context. The paper seeks to understand to what extent the spirituality-landscape focus is visible on the local and global agenda. The paper re-examines questions about agenda setting and transferability of novel methodological approaches in setting environmental issues across scale.

Meetings and relationalities instead of individuals and separated units. Reformulation of biological concepts for life sciences in XXI century

Author: Aleksandra Derra (Nicolas Copernicus University) email
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Short abstract

The aim of the paper is to present selected problems of the geography of knowledge production in the case of biological conceptualization, with special attention being given to the examples taken from ecological evolutionary developmental biology.

Long abstract

There is a long tradition of the constructive critique of biology aiming at understanding biology in anti-reductionist way, to see and conceptualize life as more complex and interactive. Biologists themselves collecting evidence from anatomy, physiology, genetics, evolution, immunology and development point out that we should look at life in terms of holobionts and symbiosis (Gilbert, Sapp, Tauber 2012). It harmonizes with approach introduces social factors into biological conceptualizations like feminist insight into biological research according to which we should introduce variation rather than homogeneity into biological categories, and we should acknowledge the complexity of biological systems which are constantly evolving and cooperating with its environments, while emphasizing the role of cooperation and mutual responsibility of complex relations (Hannagan 2008, Condit 2008).

The aim of the paper is to present selected problems of the geography of knowledge production in the case of biological conceptualization, with special attention being given to the examples taken from ecological evolutionary developmental biology. Specifically the goal of the paper is to problematize the following issues: What are given cognitive and ethical benefits of redirecting basic biological conceptual reservoir from thinking in terms of individuals and fixed units to thinking in terms of meetings and relationalities. How neoDarwinian framework with its emphasis on the individuality and competition has been intertwined with neoliberal individualistically oriented capitalist ideology. How asymmetrical power relations has resulted in ignoring the knowledge of periphery world by western science (Schiebinger 2007; Proctor, Schiebinger 2008).

Gilbert Scott F., Sapp Jan, Tauber Alfred (2012), A Symbiotic View of Life, The Quarterly Review of Biology 87 (4), 325-341.

Condit Celeste M. (2008), Feminist Biologies: Revising Feminist Strategies and Biological Science, “Sex Roles” 59, 492-503.

Hannagan Rebecca J. (2008), Gendered Political Behavior: A Darwinian Feminist Approach, “Sex Roles” 59, 465-475.

Proctor Robert N., Schiebinger Londa (eds.) 2008. Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Schiebinger Londa. 2007. Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Suitcase science and after. Structures of semi-peripheral knowledge production

Author: Krzysztof Abriszewski (Nicolaus Copernicus University) email
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Short abstract

The paper will focus on suitcase science as a dominant form of semi-peripheral scientific knowledge production. It will analyze suitcase science in terms of B. Latour's circulatory model of science from his "Pandora's Hope".

Long abstract

In many studies, STS demonstrated situatedness of scientific knowledge production, dissolving universalist myth of science. Following this, one can rise a question about how it is situated geo-politically. Using examples from scientific careers, grant proposal evaluations and narratives about reforms of Polish universities, the paper will focus on the specificity of semi-peripheral knowledge production. It will be argued that one such form, dominant at least in 1990s and 2000s in Poland, was a cluster of phenomena that I call 'suitcase science'. Suitcase science is a complex assemblage of practices, entities, relations, and circulations with its heart comprising of transporting scientific texts in suitcases from one place in center (of capitalist world-system) to another in (semi)-periphery. Being a textbook example of a translation, this process will be investigated by using Bruno Latour's circulatory model of science from his Pandora's Hope. The suitcase translation rapidly loses its role in the recent several years due to Internet based access to scientific texts. As a result, suitcase science assemblage loses its relative stability which in turn stimulates the emergence of new forms of semi-peripheral knowledge production. It will be argued, that a currently emerging form of semi-peripheral knowledge production uses neoliberal ways of stimulating productivity while increasing bureaucratic measures to increase control, and constructs a quasi-currency of credits for publications as its focal point.

The disappearance of the Second World, "suitcase science" - polish higher education reform and exclusion of technoscientific perspective

Author: Andrzej Wojciech Nowak (Adam Mickiewicz University) email
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Short abstract

Paper aims to show the semi-peripheral context of the functioning of knowledge. Will be shown that lack of STS perspective in polish reform of higher education is correlated with the disappearance of the Second World - alternative, sovereign networks of stabilisation of reality and knowledge

Long abstract

The presentation aims to show the semi-peripheral context of knowledge. The concept of " science in suitcase " (Abriszewski, Nowak et. al) will be used as the research perspective. It is an extension of B. Latour's circulatory model of knowledge supplemented with analysis of the centre-periphery perspective. It will show the disruptions in the knowledge circuits and global structural violence and global dependence. The analysis will be based on the current reform of higher education in Poland case. Thesis of paper: one of the symptoms of semiperipherial knowledge (re)production is the absence of ontological, STS oriented analysis of knowledge circulation. As a result debate is focused on science as a "cargo cult". Due to this, polish debate is characterised by clash between neoliberal "realism" vs neo-luddite and technophobic counter voices. This semiperipherial positions are functional to global distributions of power. Lack of STS, ontologically oriented analysis of circulation of knowledge is correlated with the disappearance of the Second World - alternative, sovereign networks of stabilisation of reality and knowledge. This leads to pessimistic diagnosis of situation of knowledge production in Poland as a semiperipherial country. There is a need for a change at the political, economic, and institutional level. Without redefining the position of the region, inquiring about the possibility of a more autonomous position it would be impossible to defeat "suitcase science" and in produce knowledge without reproducing hegemonic relations . This leads to question: is it possible to reclaim those promises which were stabilized by the Second World?

The Internet as Infrastructure development in Lithuania

Author: Migle Bareikyte (Leuphana University Lüneburg) email
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Short abstract

The talk will present the Telecommunications industry development in Lithuania with the focus on the Internet emergence and maintenance through my ongoing, STS-inspired research.

Long abstract

The telecommunications industry as a type of applied technoscience is concerned with the development and maintenance of data transmission technologies, of which the Internet is a part of. In my talk, I will give a brief overview of the development of telecommunications industry in Lithuania in the '90s - after the disintegration of the Soviet Union - by focusing on main actors and events that were constitutive to its emergence. In addition to the macro view, I will briefly present my ongoing research on the production of the Internet in Lithuania as an interplay between local and foreign actors, and labor practices. I applied the "infrastructuring" (Susan Leigh-Star) and media ethnographic (Lisa Parks) approaches during my fieldwork, in order to situate the Internet in Lithuania, by bringing my attention both to the post-colonially inspired description of the field, and also by focusing, for instance, on the inherent construction of the past in the presence in the current labor practices of the Internet maintenance and development.

Transformation processes after 1989 reflected in changes to Czech industrial chemical research institutes

Authors: Nina Fárová (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) email
Hana Dankova (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) email
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Short abstract

The paper presents a research project into the pre-1989 standing and subsequent transformation of chemical industrial research and development institutes. The project examines the situation of the researchers working at the institutes and the fate of their knowledge in the transformation process.

Long abstract

Before 1989, industrial research and development institutes were part of the Czechoslovak national science system, complementing research done at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, universities and departmental research institutes. The transformation from socialism to post-socialism brought about their demise or transformation into (semi) commercial entities (cf. Couderc 1996). In our paper, we will present a research project grounded in STS the goal of which is to shed light on the fate of industrial R&D institutes and especially the knowledge embodied by their (former) employees. One of the aims of the project is to highlight the repercussions of the historical and discursive demise of the Eastern Bloc for individual researchers as well as to establish whether these were gendered. Research into the transformation of science systems in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 has contributed to organisational theory (Soulsby, Clark 2007), and transformation processes have often been studied as grounded in an unstable geopolitical environment both affecting and affected by managers of industrial facilities undergoing various forms of change (e.g. Soulsby, Clark 1996, Clark, Geppert 2006). The present project broadens the scope of these studies by focusing on a possible counter-narrative of the transformation and its key influences (such as the continuities in management staffing) and thereby offer a critical, empirically grounded reflection of the transformation period locally largely interpreted as fundamentally beneficial for the development of the science system.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.