2017-18 Colloquium Series

The Science Studies Colloquium Series takes place every Monday of the quarter from 4:00p-5:30p in Room 3027, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, Muir College campus, unless noted otherwise.

A reception for the colloquium speaker takes place before the talk from 3:30p-4:00p in Room 3005, Humanities & Social Sciences Building.

Fall Quarter 2017

October 2, 2017

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

October 9, 2017

Rebecca Herzig

Professor, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Bates College

Banu Subramaniam

Professor, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
UMass Amherst

(Be)laboring Biopolitics: Genealogies of Labor in STS

Labor has been and continues to be an indispensable category of analysis for understanding asymmetrical social relations in and across post-industrial settings, as evidenced by the proliferation of new terms deployed by activists and scholars: “affective” labor, “immaterial” labor, “digital” labor, and so forth. In this talk, we trace the recent advent of a concept alternately referred to as “biological,” “biomedical,” or “clinical” labor, and consider how it might be used to rethink the politics of academic labor.

October 16, 2017

Lilly Irani

Assistant Professor, Communication & Science Studies
UC San Diego

Entrepreneurial Citizenship: Promising Knowledge and the Subsumption of Hope

“How do you get acquainted with 4 billion people?” This is a question posed by a “clean water" NGO that partnered with DevDesign, the studio where I conducted ethnographic fieldwork for 14 months. In this talk, I explain the rise of entrepreneurial citizenship in India — a call to citizens to take up the developmental work of a liberalizing state. I then turn to the work of DevDesign as they combined ethnography and design to produce not facts, but “opportunities" for global health public-private partnership. I outline how the entrepreneurial ethos and mode of development subsumes hope and disciplines development. The talk draws from my forthcoming book Innovators and their Others (Princeton University Press).

October 23, 2017

Robert Johnson

Professor of History, College of Letters and Sciences, Social Sciences
National University

The Titanic and the Stokehold:  Fossil Capital, Climate Change, and the Sociology of Collapse

The RMS Titanic was modernity's premier achievement, the purest symbol of what we might call fossil capitalism before it sunk to the bottom of the seafloor in a spectacular and nonlinear example of technological and social collapse.  This talk uses the RMS Titanic as a case study to exemplify the starkly stratified world of pleasure and risk, of Turkish steam baths and sweaty stokeholds, of hungry miners and engorged elite passengers bound to one another in a fossil economy, on the brink of collapse. 

October 30, 2017

Rafael Nuñez

Professor, Cognitive Science
UC San Diego

Does Cognitive Science (still) exist?

The "cognitive revolution" of the 1980s brought the exciting prospect of investigating "the mind" scientifically, in a well-integrated multidisciplinary field with a coherent subject matter, common research questions, complementary methods and theoretical developments (largely motivated by the unifying tenet that "cognition is computation" and that the mind is a computational entity). Over the decades, however, failures in some areas (e.g., classic artificial intelligence), difficulties in integrating certain domains (e.g., anthropology), and developments in new directions (e.g., neuroscience), has led this "common" effort to become a rather eclectic group of academic practices that no longer seem to have clear common goals, research questions, methods, and theories. Contrary to enthusiastic initial predictions, after the creation of the first department of cognitive science at UCSD in the 80's, only a handful of other departments have been created since; cognitive neuroscientists and many other cognition-related practitioners do not tend to publish in "cognitive science" journals; and, importantly, in many universities and research institutions around the world, exciting and successful multidisciplinary cognition/mind-related work seems to be taking place outside (or without the need) of "cognitive science". In this talk I will analyze the question of whether "cognitive science" (singular) still exists as an academic/intellectual field with a well-defined and coherent subject matter. To inform this question, and based on a graduate seminar I conducted last Spring, I will analyze material involving the history of relevant ideas and theories, professional practices, methods, publication patterns and venues, academic and professional institutions, and undergraduate and (the few) graduate "cognitive science" curricula, among others.

November 6, 2017

Akos Rona-Tas

Professor, Sociology
UC San Diego

Knowing What We Don’t: Uncertainty in Food Risk Science in the United States and the European Union

The relationship between scientific knowledge and uncertainty in science has been a central question in risk analysis. There have been several conceptualizations of uncertainty but most have been normative efforts to construct an ontology based on theoretical considerations. There have been few empirical attempts to build and test such an ontology through textual analysis. Methods assisted by machine learning we do not know of.
We developed empirically an ontology to investigate uncertainty in risk assessment in food safety, comparing the EU and the US, and the two main domains of food safety: biohazards and contaminants over the period 2000-2010 with a four year grant from the French National Science Foundation (ANR), and support from the US FDA, and EFSA. The ontology gauges expressions of uncertainty in two ways: one classifies the content of the uncertainty expressed in the documents, the other looks for stylistic clues of judgment. We built a large database of English language risk assessment documents issued by the agencies responsible for food safety, double coded by humans using our ontology. We also used machine-learning algorithms to reproduce and correct our coding and to test its internal consistency. (http://www6.inra.fr/holyrisk )
 We ask four questions: Is scientific uncertainty different in the US and the EU? Are there different epistemic cultures of perceiving uncertainties across different subfields of science? Do uncertainties decrease with more research? And, finally, do policy makers act differently when scientific evidence is weak?

November 13, 2017

Kristopher Nelson

PhD Candidate, History & Science Studies
UC San Diego

Reform & Resistance: Protecting the Private by Policing the Public (1860s-1960s)

In this talk, a subset of a larger look at the historical impact of technology on American privacy law, I will examine the results of several new technologies (telephonic wiretaps, surgical sterilization, and contraception) on the desire and the reality of attempts to use governmental power to protect the “sacred domestic home” by increasing regulation and control of the public sphere—and the fuzzy and impermeable boundaries between these two supposedly separate zones. I will look at the rise of such attempts (including some of the Victorian and Progressive moral reformers and medical experts involved) and then the establishment of new restrictions on these interventions (which also invoked the home and family as a justification), ending with the Supreme Court cases of Griswold, Katz, and Berger.


November 20, 2017

James Delbourgo

Associate Professor, History of Science & Atlantic World
Rutgers University

Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum

In 1759 London’s British Museum opened its doors for the first time – the first free national public museum in the world. But how did it come into being? This talk recounts the overlooked yet colorful life of the museum’s founder: Sir Hans Sloane. Born in 1660, Sloane amassed a fortune as a London society physician, became president of the Royal Society and Royal College of Physicians, and assembled an encyclopedic collection of specimens and objects – the most famous cabinet of curiosities of its time – which became the foundation of the British Museum. Slavery and empire played crucial roles in his career. Sloane worked in Jamaica as a plantation doctor and made collections throughout the island with help from planters and slaves. On his return to London, he married a Jamaican sugar heiress, adding to his wealth and his ability to collect. He then established a network of agents to supply him with objects of all kinds f rom Asia, the Americas and beyond: plants and animals, books and manuscripts, a shoe made of human skin, the head of an Arctic walrus, slaves’ banjos, magical amulets, Buddhist shrines, copies of the Qur’ān and more. The little-known life of one of the Enlightenment’s most controversial luminaries provides a new story about the beginnings of public museums through their origins in encyclopedic universalism, imperialism and slavery. The lecture is based on Delbourgo’s new biography of Sloane entitled Collecting the World, published by Penguin in the UK and the Belknap Press in the US, which has been named Book of the Week in The Guardian, The Times (London), the Daily Mail and The Week (UK).

November 27, 2017

Arthur Petersen

Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy
University College London

Values in Science Advice: The Case of the IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reviews scientific literature on climate change in an attempt to make scientific knowledge about climate change accessible to a wide audience that includes policy makers. Documents produced by the IPCC are subject to negotiations in plenary sessions, which can be frustrating for the scientists and government delegations involved, who all have stakes in getting their respective interests met. This seminar draws on the work of Bruno Latour in order to analyze the role of different values in science advice and the need for ‘diplomacy’ between them.

December 4, 2017

Ramya Rajagopalan

Visiting Scholar, Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

December 11, 2017

No Colloquium

Finals Week

Winter Quarter 2018

January 8, 2018

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

January 15, 2018

No Colloquium

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 22, 2018

Allen Tran, Anthropology'12

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Bucknell University

January 29, 2018

Elena Aronova'12

Assistant Professor, History, UC Santa Barbara

February 5, 2018

Harun Küçük'12

Assistant Professor, History & Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

February 12, 2018

Alan Richardson

Professor, Distinguished University Scholar, Philosophy
University of British Columbia

February 19, 2018 

No Colloquium

President's Day

February 26, 2018

Steve Epstein

Professor of Sociology and John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities
Northwestern University

March 5, 2018

Hal Pashler or Nancy Cartwright


March 12, 2018

Hal Pashler or Nancy Cartwright


March 19, 2018 

No Colloquium

Finals Week

March 26, 2018

Spring Break

Spring Quarter 2018

April 2, 2018

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

April 9, 2018

Don Everhardt

PhD Candidate, Sociology & Science Studies, UC San Diego

April 16, 2018

Michael Hardimon

Associate Professor, Philosophy, UC San Diego

Lucy Allais

Henry E. Allison Endowed Chair in the History of Philosophy, Philosophy, UC San Diego

April 23, 2018

Brynna Jacobson

PhD Candidate, Sociology, UC San Diego

April 30, 2018

Dan C. Hallin

Professor, Communication, UC San Diego

Charles Briggs

Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

May 7, 2018 

J. Rogers Hollingsworth

Professor Emeritus, History, University of Wisconsin

May 14, 2017

Rebecca Hardesty

PhD Candidate, Communicaton & Science Studies, UC San Diego

May 21, 2017 

Benoit Berthelier

Postdoctoral Scholar, Transnational Korean Studies, UC San Diego

May 28, 2017

No Colloquium

Memorial Day

May 30 & 31, 2017

Student Choice Speaker: Ruha Benjamin

Assistant Professor, African American Studies, Princeton University

June 4, 2017