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Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010

'Rupture and Flow: The Circulation of Technoscientific Facts and Objects'

Seminar series supported by Multidisciplinary Ventures and Seminars Fund

Jan. 14, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Multidisciplinary Ventures and Seminars Fund has awarded funding in support of the 2010-2011 seminar series titled "Rupture and Flow: The Circulation of Technoscientific Facts and Objects."

Invited experts from around the world, as well as local specialists, will speak, with the series running from late August through early May. The seminar will be divided into four eight-week sessions corresponding to four themes addressing how and why cultural, social and material forces interrupt the circulation of technoscientific objects, and with what consequences for what kinds of communities.

The seminar is anchored in the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies, and includes a longstanding interest in traveling facts and technology. Researchers are especially interested in how disruptions can be productive in often unanticipated ways. The four themes that will be examined are:

  • How and why do scientists filter their findings, and has this pattern of the selective release of potential knowledge changed over historical time and does it vary among disciplines?
  • How do the material technologies that enable the circulation of technoscientific objects themselves introduce a need to translate knowledge-claims as they move among communities with different normative standards of truth and credibility?
  • How is the transfer of technological artifacts embedded in variable organizational, cultural and social contexts, so that the transit of objects from one community to another (each with its own utilities and values) either becomes impossible or requires fundamental reformulation of the substance of the object or its meaning?
  • How is the power to control migrations for technoscientific objects distributed among social groups and institutions, and how is that power changing over time in ways that enable or discourage the flow of facts and machines.

IU faculty members involved in this research are:

Ilana Gershon

Ilana Gershon is assistant professor of performance and ethnography in the Department of Communication and Culture and adjunct professor in the Department of Anthropology at IU Bloomington. She received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2001 . Gershon has edited several special issues of journals, including "The Symbolic Capital of Ignorance" Social Analysis (2000), and has published articles in American Anthropologist, Anthropological Theory, and Anthropology Today, among other journals. In her current project, she is studying how people end relationships using new technologies. By focusing on break-ups, she offers insights into the ways that people experience these new media as "new," particularly as they try to develop shared social etiquette for these innovative technologies. Gershon foregrounds the social dilemmas that emerge when shared expectations and etiquette are not yet in place for new communicative artifacts.

Rebecca Lave

Rebecca Lave received her Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of California at Berkeley, under the supervision of Michael Watts and Michael Burawoy. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at IU Bloomington, teaching courses on political ecology, environmental conservation, social theory and ecological restoration. Her work focuses on nature/society relations, particularly in relation to fresh water systems in the U.S., and the political economy of scientific expertise. Lave has written several articles and book chapters about the shifting boundary between public and private science. Her current research addresses the tensions among science, markets and the state in the nascent stream mitigation banking industry in North Carolina.

Eden Medina

Medina photo

Photo by Chris Meyer

Eden Medina

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Eden Medina is an assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of History at IU Bloomington. Her research bridges the history of technology and the history of Latin America and asks how studies of technology can enrich our understanding of broader historical processes. Medina received her Ph.D. in the history and social study of science and technology from MIT in 2005 and completed an interdisciplinary dissertation on the history of Chilean computing and its relationship to state formation. Her current book manuscript Cybernetic Socialism tells the history of the Chilean Cybersyn Project, an early computer network designed to regulate Chile's economic transition to socialism during the government of Salvador Allende. She is the recipient of a 2007-2008 National Science Foundation Scholar's Award and the 2007 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) Life Member's Prize for the best article of the year in electrical history. In 2005, she transformed her research into a multipart installation at the ZKM Center for Digital Art and Media as part of the "Making Things Public" exhibition curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. Medina is currently associate editor for the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing.

Jutta Schickore

Jutta Schickore

Jutta Schickore

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Jutta Schickore is associate professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy at IU Bloomington. Before coming to IU, she held research fellowships at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT; and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She works on methodological aspects of scientific experimentation, the history of physiology and vision studies, and the problem of error in science. Her publications include Going Amiss in Experimental Research (co-edited with G. Hon and F. Steinle), Dordrecht (2009); The Microscope and the Eye: A History of Reflections, 1740-1870, Chicago (2007), which won the Paul Bunge Prize of the German Chemical Society; Revisiting Discovery and Justification: The Context Distinction in Historical and Philosophical Perspective (co-edited with F. Steinle), Dordrecht (2006), as well as several articles in history and philosophy of science journals. Recent awards include a year-long membership at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2007-8), and the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, IU Bloomington (2006).

Kalpana Shankar

Kalpana Shankar

Chris Meyer

Kalpana Shankar

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Kalpana Shankar is an assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington. She received her Ph.D. in library and information science at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied with Anne Gilliland (archival studies), Sharon Traweek (history, STS), and Leah Lievrouw (new media, STS). Her research projects focus on the uses of data and information (digital and otherwise) in scientific pedagogy, practice and policy. She has published in Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology, the Journal of Documentation and other journals. She is also a co-principal investigator on ETHOS (Ethical Technologies in the Homes of Seniors), a National Science Foundation-sponsored project to investigate privacy, aging and home-based technology. In 2008, she received a Multidisciplinary Research Opportunities for Women grant from the Computing Research Association. She was invited to be a visiting researcher at the Virtual Knowledge Studio in Amsterdam, where she pursued her current interests on the use of Web 2.0 and nontraditional data sources (such as amateur records and data) in scientific research.

Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs and Rudy Professor of Sociology Tom Gieryn, who has done research in the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS) for more than three decades, will serve as convener for the seminar.

This group of faculty has also been awarded more than $140,000 through the prestigious Mellon Foundation's Sawyer Seminars for this series.

For more information on the seminar, e-mail