(V08)
Exploring relations of authority
Location Marcus Merriman Lecture Theatre (Bowland North)
Date and Start Time 28 Jul, 2018 at 11:30
Sessions 1

Convenors

  • Dawn Goodwin (Lancaster University) email
  • Gordon Walker (Lancaster University) email

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Chair Lisa Wood (Lancaster University)

Short abstract

This panel explores the relationships that underlie different forms of knowledge production and practice. Collaborative yet exclusive, hierarchical yet inquisitive, diffuse yet still shaped by authority; the circumstances of knowledge production and practice analysed here defy easy characterisation.

Long abstract

None provided.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

When tinkering goes wrong: innovating to care or caring to innovate?

Author: Hannah Cowan (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) email
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Short abstract

This paper reassesses the concept of tinkering using the ethnographic example of hip replacements. Through looking at when tinkering goes wrong it highlights the relationship between morally good and caring intentions to improve care and the pressure to constantly innovate and make something new.

Long abstract

"The problem is when surgeons start tinkering."

Patient Representative

Much of the literature on tinkering focuses on how people with morally good and caring intentions play with medical processes and protocol to give patients a better recovery or experience (Mol, Moser and Pols, 2010). But this paper looks at when tinkering goes wrong (it is of course a process of trial and error) using the ethnographic example of the operation and recovery of hip replacements. I will describe how slight changes in mixing the anaesthetic to improve recovery results in everyone getting sick; how physios helping people on the "easier" practice stairs results in falls and fear, and also when it seems tinkering is done for tinkering's sake - when surgeons tinker with their technique but look only to the patients' flesh to assess their results. Furthermore, I use these examples to question how many tinkering practices are related to the current political desire to innovate, to constantly make anew, and even to have something to call your own. By tracing the network of everyday action beyond the specific time and place of their performance, I look at how the everyday of policies and politics play out in care itself. This has wider implications for STS and the (normative) judgement of where to cut the network (Strathern, 1996). Here I suggest we reinforce Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) method of flattening the network in our research to ensure we do not reinforce, recreate the hierarchies that affect the everyday.

A relational analysis of contemporary planning practice

Author: Anna-Lisa Müller (University of Bremen) email
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Short abstract

Based on empirical data from numerous postindustrial cities, the paper presents a relational analysis of contemporary planning practice, the different (human and non-human) actors involved and the resultant power relations by using street art as particular case study.

Long abstract

In the proposed paper, I discuss how the relationship between planners, artists, materiality and space can be understood from a relational perspective. Taking contemporary cities as examples, I argue that artists working in and about urban space challenge urban planning processes in a particular way and help to bring about planning as a hybrid practice. Using the example of street art, I show how material, spatial and social elements are interwoven in the artistic practice and the resulting works. At the same time, the works of art are always a reaction to and a dialogue with the planned and designed city and thus an open, sometimes implicit dialogue with the planners. As planners in postindustrial societies increasingly include such originally bottom-up projects and integrate them into their planning projects, the role of social-cultural-material assemblages for designing cities becomes evident. The proposed paper argues that only specific groups are responded to by urban planners in such an integrative way. Which groups these are depends on the discourse and is an expression of specific societal power relations; in the case at hand, the hegemonic position of creativity finds its equivalent in the relational urban planning practice. Based on empirical data from numerous postindustrial cities, a relational perspective on contemporary planning practice, the different (human and non-human) actors involved and the resultant power relations is presented.

Organising unknowing?

Author: Stephen Allen (University of Hull) email
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Short abstract

To imagine meanings of being (post)human Quaker practices have received some attention, for their 'fluidity', and embracing 'unknowing'. From participating in Quaker meetings and interviews, I explore how authority and power can become reconfigured when organising in a relational world.

Long abstract

The Anthropocene is suggested to mark the end of ideas about a nature/culture divide (Zalasiewicz, Williams, Steffen, & Crutzen, 2010), which brings with it significant questions about how we can understand ourselves going on, or meeting, together (Latour, 2013). To imagine meanings of being (post)human Quaker practices have received some attention, as their 'fluidity' could bring possibilities to engage in the often elusive and diffuse character of knowing (Law & Mol, 2003), and also offer images of collective becoming which embrace 'inevitable unknowing' in a relational world (Allen, 2017). However, how might ideas of authority and power become reconfigured amongst the Quakers often silent searching for how to flow-on together? From analysis of interviews with twenty Quakers across Meetings in the North of England, and participating in Quaker meetings, I suggest some emergent themes which could help to develop appreciations of possibilities for, and disruptions to, organising unknowing.

Trade, war, law, and the creation of knowledge in early colonial Bombay

Author: Jessica Price (Cornell University) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores how knowledge of "others" was created in the pluralistic society of early colonial Bombay. Through a series of historical case studies it engages with STS debates on colonial science, and challenges what defines a "centre" or a "periphery."

Long abstract

This paper is a study of correspondence from the English East India Company in Bombay during the 1670s and 80s. It posits that the everyday interactions the English had in the course of running a factory were forms of data gathering about their neighbours in Bombay. This information influenced the choices the English made about how to include people from outside the Company in the running of Bombay, and shaped power relations in the region.

During this period, members of the English East India Company's factory mingled with Brahmins, Hindu traders, Indo-Portuguese soldiers, Catholic padres, and Mughals. The level of amicability between these people and the English shifted according to the demands of trade and defence, and sometimes even relations between allies could be strained. Incidents in markets, ships, and court rooms, however, provided information that shaped the company's understanding of the community in which they lived, and altered their decisions regarding property, their garrison, and the law.

By looking at how the English interacted with south Asians and other Europeans to produce new knowledge, this work enters a conversation about "hybrid" forms of knowledge in the early East India Company, typified by work like Winterbottom (2016). It also contributes to a broader discussion about the creation of knowledge in "trans-national" contexts. Like Raj (2006) and Bleichmar (2012), this paper challenges our understanding of what constitutes a "centre."

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.