ANTH4560 6.0 The Anthropology of Science & Technology
Time: Wed. 2:30-5:30 VH 3005
What is a scientific fact? How are facts produced in scientific laboratories? How do they circulate? And how do we make sense of scientific facts in our daily lives? This course offers an introduction to anthropological studies of science and technology with a focus on the power of facts in contemporary technoscientific cultures. The anthropology of science is a fast-growing area of ethnographic research that approaches science as both a practice and a culture. Today, anthropologists' field sites include nuclear weapons laboratories, science classrooms, surgical operating theatres, pharmaceutical companies, animal breeding farms, ecological restoration sites, activist communities, and disaster zones like Chernobyl and Bhopal.
In these fields, anthropologists track the material cultures of science, including the objects and instruments scientists design and use to conduct their research. Building on anthropological interest in forms of cultural production and reproduction, anthropologists of science forge inquiries into the ways that scientific institutions produce new generations of scientists, new cultures of knowledge, and new forms of expertise.
Anthropologists also examine how Western cultural concepts of life and health are continuously transformed through biomedicine and biotechnologies, and how people rework scientific facts in their daily lives and worlds. The course builds on anthropological literature to explore how facts are stabilized in scientific communities, how facts are made to travel, and how we incorporate facts into our lives and fashion our selves in conversation with expert knowledge. Through close examination of ethnographic studies, active discussion, and hands-on research, the course takes a close look at the politics of science and technology and the intersection of science with race and gender, and new formations of capital and identity.
Format: Three seminar hours