Encountering Science and Technology Studies (STS): Situated Seminars

by Tanja Schneider and Malte Ziewitz

The STS Reading group will take a special approach this term. Rather than discussing readings in the confines and comfort of a seminar room, we will immerse ourselves in different locations that speak to the issues at hand. In a series of situated seminars, we will “meet the universe halfway” in the Green Templeton Observatory, “make the visual visible” in a pitch-black room, discuss the politics of algorithms on an algorithmic walk, engage with the materiality of publics in an Edible Community Garden, talk about human and non-human animals in the Museum of Natural History, participate in the performance of neurocultures at an exhibition of brains and replicate an ethnographic experiment in a hands-on dinner session.

If you missed an event, there is a series of brief notes and summaries for each session on this blog.

Encountering Science and Technology Studies (STS): Situated Seminars

Trinity Term 2012
University of Oxford

Meeting the Universe Halfway

at the Radcliffe Observatory

Thursday, 3 May 2012 — 16:30–18:00

Chair Steve Woolgar
Readings Karen Barad (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press, Introduction and chapter 1

Trevor Pinch (2011) “Review Essay: Karen Barad, quantum mechanics, and the paradox of mutual exclusivity”, Social Studies of Science, Vol.41, No. 3, pp. 431-441.

Karan Barad (2011) “Erasers and erasures: Pinch’s unfortunate ‘uncertainty principle’, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 443-454.

Location Radcliffe Observatory, Green Templeton College

The Invention of Choice:
The Making of a Cognitive-Semantic Field

— Special speaker event —

Thursday, 10 May 2012 — 16:00-17:30

Speaker Stefan Schwarzkopf, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Readings Stefan Schwarzkopf (2012) “The Invention of Choice: the Making of a Cognitive-Semantic Field”, Draft Paper.
Location Seminar Room 13, Saïd Business School

Material Publics

at OxGrow, Oxford’s Edible Community Garden

Thursday, 17 May 2012 — 16:30 – 18:00

Chair Catherine Montgomery
Readings Noortje Marres & Javier Lezaun (2011) “Materials and devices of the public: an introduction”, Economy & Society, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 489-509.

Dimitris Papadopoulos (2011) “Alter-ontologies: Towards a constituent politics in technoscience” Social Studies of Science, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 177-201.

Location OxGrow, Oxford’s Edible Community Garden

Maverick Markets:
The Virtual Societies of Financial Markets

— Special speaker event —

Clarendon Lectures in Management 2012

Tue 22, Wed 23 and Thu 24 May 2012 — 17.30–19.00

Speaker Karin Knorr Cetina, Professor, University of Chicago
Recommended readings Karin Knorr Cetina (2002) “Global Microstructures: The Virtual Societies of Financial Markets”, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 107, No. 4, pp. 905–50.

Karin Knorr Cetina (2009) “The Synthetic Situation: Interactionism for a Global World”, Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 32, Issue 1, pp. 61–87.

Karin Knorr Cetina (2011) “What is a Financial Market? Global Markets as Microinstitutional and Post-Traditional Social Forms” (2012), in: Karin Knorr Cetina and Alex Preda (eds.) Handbook of the Sociology of Finance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Location Saïd Business School (please register)

An Algorithmic Walk

in the City of Oxford

Thursday, 31 May 2012 — 16:30-18:00

Chair Malte Ziewitz
Readings Nathan Ensmenger (2012) “Is chess the drosophila of artificial intelligence? A social history of an algorithm”, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 5-30.

Tarleton Gillespie (2012) “Can an algorithm be wrong?”, Limn, Issue 2, available at http://limn.it/can-an-algorithm-be-wrong/ (last visited May 23, 2012).

Optional, but interesting:

Peter Slezak (1989) “Scientific Discovery by Computer as Empirical Refutation of the Strong Programme”, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 19, pp. 563-600.

Location A walk through Oxford, guided by an algorithm. Meeting point: Martyrs Memorial at the intersection of St Giles, Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street.

Human and Non-human Animals

at the Museum of Natural History

Thursday, 14 June 2012 — 16:30-18:00

Chair Amy Hinterberger
Readings John Berger (1980) “Why Look at Animals?”, in: About Looking, New York: Pantheon Books, pp. 1-28.

Gail Davies (forthcoming) “What is a humanized mouse?”, Body & Society.

Location Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW

Visualisation in the Dark

in a pitch-black lecture hall

Thursday, 21 June 2012 — 16:30-18:00

Chair Annamaria Carusi
Readings Annamaria Carusi (forthcoming) “Making the visual visible in philosophy of science”.

Catelijne Coopmans, C. (2011) “’Face Value’: New medical imaging software in commercial view”, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 155-176.

Location Video-conferencing room, Saïd Business School, Oxford, OX1 1HP


at an exhibition of brains

– Cancelled –

Chair Tanja Schneider
Readings Francisco Ortega and Fernando Vidal (2011) “Approaching the Neurocultural Spectrum: An Introduction” in: Neurocultures: Glimpses into an Expanded Universe, pp. 7-29.

Suparna Choudhoury and Jan Slaby (2012) Critical Neuroscience – Between Lifeworld and Laboratory”, in: Critical Neuroscience: A Handbook of the Social and Cultural Contexts of Neuroscience, pp. 1-26.

Location Excursion to Exhibition on “Brains: The Mind as Matter”, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE

Eating Experiment

in a private kitchen

6 July 2012 — 18:00-??

Chair All as cooks, experimenters, notetakers, photographers, writers and eaters
Readings Anna Mann et al (2011) ‘Mixing methods, tasting fingers: Notes on an ethnographic experiment’, Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 1(1): 221-243.
Location Private kitchen; please register for this one so we can plan ahead.

Please note: Meeting locations and times vary and may be updated on short notice. You can download the latest version here. For questions, please contact Tanja Schneider or Malte Ziewitz. We will also update this blog post as it happens.

Update 2012-04-27: Stefan Schwarzkopf’s draft paper on choice is now available — please e-mail us for a copy. Professor Karin Knorr Cetina recommended preparatory readings, which have been added to the list.

Update 2012-05-23: Algorithmic walk section now with a new and central meeting point.

Update 2012-06-05: Unfortunately, the visualization seminar this week had to be cancelled. We will find a new date later this term.

Update 2012-06-18: New dates announced for “Visualisation in the dark” and “Neurocultures?” sessions.