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2015-16 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 2015

September 28, 2015

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

October 5, 2015

Martha Lampland

Associate Professor, Sociology, UC San Diego

October 12, 2015

Natalie Aviles

PhD Candidate, Sociology and Science Studies, UC San Diego

The emergence of translational research: Organizational culture and scientific practice at the National Cancer Institute, 1991-2006

Diane Vaughan has argued that organizations are a “black box” in STS, as dominant theoretical frameworks obviate organizations as an important level of analysis. As a consequence, the field has failed to develop a systematic theoretical understanding of how organizational structures and organizational cultures shape the development of certain social kinds. In this paper, I offer a preliminary sketch of a theory of organization for STS, modifying Tor Hernes' process theory of organization using contemporary sociological approaches that elaborate upon insights from American pragmatism. I offer this synthesis, a “pragmatic process theory of organization,” as a theoretical lens for analyzing the role organizations play in the emergence of technoscientific kinds. I apply this pragmatic process theory of organization to analyze the formation of translational research, showing how its emergence was indelibly shaped by the organizational apparatus of the National Cancer Institute.

October 19, 2015

Gerald Doppelt

Professor, Philosophy, UC San Diego


October 26, 2015

Tayra Lanuza Navarro

Huntington Fellow, University of Valencia


November 2, 2015

Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra

Assistant Professor, Sociology, UC San Diego

What is a Relation? Infrastructures, Connections and Meaning-Making in Social Thought

In recent years, relational approaches have flourished throughout sociology. From the study of culture and social movements to discussions about intimate economic transactions and the production of economic objects, relations figure prominently in the intellectual toolkit of a broad collection of theorists and analysts in our discipline. Characterized by a reflexive and critical perspective on interpersonal and collective phenomena, these relational approaches have contributed much to the understanding of how the ongoing construction of meaning through interactions and connections constitutes the fabric of social life. In this lecture, though, I ask the apparently trivial question of “what is a relation?” to problematize the analytical scope of relational approaches in sociology. In particular, I look at theoretical developments in a sister discipline (anthropology) to imagine what an alternative relational sociology might look like. Departing from the dominant paradigm of the Durkheiman/Levi-Straussian relational conception, I engage with the theories of Marilyn Strathern, whose STS-inspired work presents relations as the products of specific shared knowledge practices. This theoretical shift allows examining a different type of relational sociology, one that emphasizes knowledge infrastructures, demarcation, and category building over other connective forms of meaning making. I apply this relational/infrastructural approach to two cases (economic sociology and the methodological challenges of big data) in order to highlight some of the potential challenges and rewards that we might reap by shifting our understanding of what constitutes a relation. 

November 9, 2015

Andrea Woody

Associate Professor, University of Washington


November 16, 2015

Judy Wajcman

Anthony Giddens Professor, Department of Sociolgy, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Pressed for Time: Everyday Life in the Digital Age

There is a widespread assumption that digital devices make us live too fast, a sense that time is scarce and that the pace of everyday life is accelerating beyond our control. The iconic image that abounds is that of the frenetic, technologically tethered, iPhone-addicted citizen. So what is the relationship between technology and time? Does technological acceleration inexorably hasten the pace of work and everyday life? This talk presents a sociological understanding of the paradoxes of time in a digital age. I will argue that there is no temporal logic inherent in technologies. As opposed to the technologically determinist approach, I will argue that it is our concrete social practices that generate those qualities of technologies that we usually consider as intrinsic and permanent. Technologies do play a central role in the constitution of time regimes, as our very experience of human action and the material world is mediated by technology. But, we make the world together with technology and so it is with time.

November 23, 2015

Jim Endersby

Senior Lecturer, The HIstory of Science, The University of Sussex
Crafty, Killer, Moral Orchids

At the end of the nineteenth century, orchids were among the most desirable, collectable and exotic flowers to grace British greenhouses, but despite the hours spent watering and tending to them, they turned on their keepers and started trying to kill those who grew them. The first victim was a Mr Winter-Wedderburn, who almost died when a vampiric orchid tried to drain every drop of blood from his body; only his quick-thinking housekeeper¹s intervention saved him. Others were not so lucky, and the list of fatalities grew slowly but steadily during the next few decades. Fortunately, these attacks only occurred in fiction (Mr Winter-Wedderburn was a character in a short story by H.G. Wells), yet they present a curious puzzle for historians. Orchids were to become deadly, sexy, mobile and ­ most noticeably ­ increasingly cunning over the next few decades. To understand why, we need to trace the ³killer orchid² genre back, via popularisations of Darwin¹s botany, to a mystery that Darwin was unable to solve; why some orchids mimic insects. The solution was only found in the twentieth century, and I will argue that the fictitious orchids formed a crucial link in this discovery.

November 30, 2015

Ursula Dalinghaus

Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, UC Irvine


December 7, 2015

No Colloquium

Finals Week

Winter Quarter 2016

January 4, 2016

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

January 11, 2016

Janet Vertesi

Assistant Professor, Sociology, Princeton


January 18, 2016

No Colloquium

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 25, 2016

Jan Golinski

Professor, History and Humanities, University of New Hampshire


February 1, 2016

Alex Levine

Professor, Philosophy, University of South Florida


February 8, 2016

Alan Richardson

Professor, Philosophy, University of British Columbia


February 15, 2016

No Colloquium

President's Day

February 22, 2016

Charlie Thorpe

Associate Professor, Sociology, UC San Diego


February 29, 2016

Miriam Solomon

Professor, Philosophy, Temple University


March 7, 2016

Massimo Mazzoti

Director, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society

Associate Professor, History, UC Berkeley


March 14, 2016

No Colloquium

Finals Week 

March 21, 2015

Spring Break

Spring Quarter 2016

March 28, 2016

Science Studies Program Meeting

SSP faculty and students only

April 4, 2016

William Shea

Galileo Professor of the History of Science Emeritus, University of Padua


April 11, 2016

Bernard Lightman

Professor, Department of Humanities, York University


April 18, 2016

Kerry McKenzie

Assistant Professor, Philosopy, UC San Diego


April 25, 2016

Julia Rogers

PhD Candidate, Sociology and Science Studies, UC San Diego


May 2, 2016

Anna Starshinina

PhD Candidate, Communication and Science Studies, UC San Diego


May 9, 2016

Kavita Philip

Associate Professor, History, UC Irvine


May 16, 2016

Peter R. Dear

Professor of the History of Science, Department of History, Cornell University


May 23, 2016

Sarah Klein

PhD Candidate, Communication and Science Studies, UC San Diego


May 30, 2016

No Colloquium

Memorial Day

June 6, 2016

No Colloquium

Finals Week