Technoscience Salon

2014-15 :: Activating Evidence


Activating Evidence

This year’s Technoscience Salon explores the mobilization of evidence at the nexus of science, activism, and policy. Evidence is the ground for taking action in government, laboratories and research institutes, in social movements, and in daily life. We begin from the premise that evidence is activated in contested fields of power, and that it can be mobilized to do very different kinds of work to very different ends. We also acknowledge that just as it takes serious work to constitute and reconstitute evidence, evidence can also be ignored or concealed. This year we invite participants to attend to the precarious life of evidence: those erasures, elisions, deceptions, calibrations and fabulations that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction, and between official accounts and lived realities.

The Salon will explore the messy and multiple lives of evidence and the historical, epistemic, and material contingencies of evidentiary regimes. We ask: How do different evidentiary regimes secure evidence? What modes of attention and forms of expertise do these regimes demand? Which phenomena are rendered sensible? Which remain imperceptible, indeterminate, and immaterial? Which bodies of evidence are valued? Which are permissible? Which are impermissible?

How might we excavate the pervasive “self-evidences” that take shape around scientific authority and expertise? How can we deepen our analyses of the craft of persuasion in scientific storytelling, and the animation of evidence in the performance and performativity of truth?

As we explore the vagaries of expertise, authority and advocacy in multiple contexts where evidence is at stake, the aim of this year’s Salon is to explore new ways to activate evidence. How might we expand what counts as evidence? How might we repurpose and reconfigure bodies of evidence it to tell new kinds of stories and make new kinds of interventions in this changing world?

September 26 :: Activations

Opening Party Hosted by METALab

Location | Time :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 109, 4-6 p.m.

October 10 :: Erasures and Fabulations

Organizers :: Jessica Caporusso (Anthropology, YorkU) and Cameron Murray (STS, YorkU)

Speakers :: Denielle Elliott (Health & Society, YorkU) & Mike Pettit(History & Theory of Psychology, YorkU)

Discussants :: Johanna Pokorny (Anthropology, UToronto) & Sarah Tracey (History, UToronto)

Location | Time  :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 106, 4-6, p.m.

Session Provocation

Cameron Murray & Jessica Caporusso

The Erasures and Fabulations Salon explores how evidence is mobilized in scientific debates.  We are constantly learning how to navigate the complex web of narratives, counter-narratives, and rhetorics of contemporary technoscience to figure out what forms of evidence can be trusted, which should be questioned, and which can be ignored. Evidence is never neutral. Researchers, activists, politicians, corporate representatives and wider publics activate evidence in particular ways to serve particular goals. All manipulate certain facts, bulk up the significance of others, and sometimes blatantly deceive. This occurs in all kinds of everyday, mundane spaces as much as in labs, clinics, scientific trials, city council chambers, and during the increasingly well-scripted press conferences that air in the immediate aftermath of social, political and environmental disasters. This salon is attuned to the power of stories. We ask: what do techniques of erasure and fabulation teach us about the craft of science and the fictive dimensions of truth making? How might this attention give us deeper insight into the evidentiary regimes of neoliberalism? How might we mobilize the creativity of evidence-making to vie for a different kind of politics?

November 14 :: Citizen Science

Organizers :: Stephanie Creighton (Anthropology, YorkU), Emily Simmonds (STS, YorkU), and Kira Turner (Anthropology, YorkU)

Speakers :: Eric Mykhalovskiy (Sociology, YorkU) & Brian Beaton(iSchool, U Pittsburgh)

Discussants :: Kelly Ladd (STS, YorkU) & Emily Simmonds (STS, YorkU)

Location | Time  :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 106, 4-6, p.m.

Session Provocation 

Stephanie Creighton, Emily Simmonds & Kira Turner

Placing “civic engagement” at the center of evidentiary regimes, the Citizen Science Salon invites participants to explore how collaborations between scientists and  citizens engage, disturb or subvert such regimes. Curious about how such collaborations draw upon and challenge the rhetorical conventions and temporal rhythms of evidentiary regimes, we ask: How do citizen science projects (re)orient the  goals and (re)purpose the tools of science? How are alternate forms of expertise taken  up, valued or rendered (im)permissible? How might these collaborations matter and for whom? Presenters are encouraged to draw on their experiences as we open up a discussion about the grounds that make collaborations possible, and in some instances necessary; the labours involved; the limitations and possibilities of citizen science projects; and the ways in which they can activate differences in the world.

November 28 :: Queering Evidence

Organizer :: Peter Hobbs (Environmental Studies, YorkU)

Speakers :: Lauren Corman (Sociology, BrockU) & Mike Hoolboom(Filmmaker)

Discussants :: Catriona Sandilands (Environmental Studies, YorkU) &Andrew Zealley (Environmental Studies, YorkU)

Location | Time  :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 106, 4-6, p.m.

Session Provocation

Peter Hobbs

The goal of this Salon is to highlight a queer tactical biopolitics, a collective but loose and mutable effort to disrupt and repurpose evidence by wading into the agential messiness of life. Queer practitioners often turn to such things as animals, plants, and microbes to dislodge heteronormativity, to implode the human-animal divide, and to celebrate transgressive ecologies and communities. They punctuate their arguments with personal anecdotes, charged imagery, and raw emotions, challenging the insistence that we are supposed to remain detached when weighing the evidence. They also render the invisible visible—to point out the violence inherent to the status quo—as an effective way to revive and reassemble life’s contests of meaning, giving them new players, complications, and aspirations. This Salon asks: How might we queer and reinvent conventional modes of thinking? How do we morph the sensory organs of science and learning to develop different ways of seeing, touching, hearing, and smelling? How might queer stories captivate, inspire, and activate new approaches to evidence?

January 9 :: Data’s Affects and Effects

Speakers :: Rebecca Lemov (History of Science, Harvard U), Patrick Keilty (UToront0)

Discussants :: Hannah Turner (iSchool, UToronto), Jeffery Wajsberg (STS, YorkU) & Carla Hustak (Technoscience Research Unit, UToronto)

Location | Time  :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 106, 4-6, p.m.

Session Provocation

Patrick Keilty and Natasha Myers

This Salon extends the theme of “Activating Evidence” to think through data’s effects as well as its affects. It considers practices and infrastructures of data collection, curation, storage, and retrieval to think through the ways that data is mediated and made meaningful. How is data mobilized to catalyze meanings and foment relations? In addition to asking how data arrangements shape the terrain of what is known and not known, the aim of this Salon is to examine the multiple ways data is charged with affect. We are concerned with the affectivity of truth-telling through data. In other words, how do affects such as hope, despair, optimism, anxiety, anticipation, hype, confidence, urgency, or complacency shape how data is gathered, visualized, analyzed, and relayed? How do these affects propagate through legal, administrative, scientific, social, cultural, and historical contexts and what are their effects? At stake here is the question of the ways that affects condition data and contour evidentiary regimes. To puzzle through these questions, this Salon brings together scholars in the history of the life and human sciences, science and technology studies, feminist technoscience, and information studies.

January 23 :: Evidencing Disaster

Speakers :: Kim Fortun (STS, RPI) and Max Libroiron (Sociology, MemorialU)

Discussants :: Michelle Murphy (History/Women and Gender Studies, UToronto) & Christianne Stephens (Anthropology, YorkU)

Location | Time  :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 106, 4-6, p.m.

Session Provocation

Kira Turner, Lina Pinto, and Natasha Myers

This Salon explores disjunctures between official accounts and lived realities in the context of disaster. Our aim is to interrogate disaster in its multiple forms and mobilities, from slow disasters stemming from the creep of chemical exposures and the accretion of contaminants as in the case of asthma, to acute and unruly disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and Bhopal. We explore how evidentiary regimes shape the ways a disaster is apprehended and how it is mitigated. We ask: How are evidence and expertise mobilized in and around disaster zones? How, in this process, is lived experience effaced, and rendered anecdotal or inadmissible? Who, then, can and cannot make claims about the impact, effects, and consequences of disaster? Where do official accounts and lived realities begin and end? These questions provoke others: How is evidence of disasters contoured by inertia and bottlenecks in communication infrastructures, media (in)visibilities, the selective directives of humanitarian efforts, and the devastating path of illness, death or recovery of those affected? How do forms of structural violence and inequalities shape evidentiary regimes? What are the forces that maintain ignorance and nonknowledge in the wake of disaster? This Salon brings together activist-researchers at the intersection of STS and Disaster Studies to explore how their interventions are transforming the evidentiary landscape of disaster response.

March 27 :: Evidence in War Zones

Speakers :: Emily Cohen (Independent Scholar and Filmmaker) andKristina Lyons (Anthropology, UCSC)

Discussants :: Carlota McAllister (CERLAC, YorkU) and Lina Pinto (STS, YorkU)

Location | Time  :: Artscape Youngplace,  Room 106, 5-7, p.m.

Session Provocation

Lina Pinto

War proliferates grey zones: it disturbs the grounds of legality; it blurs the lines dividing victims and perpetrators; and disrupts the moral economies that condition which lives are valued and which deaths are rendered acceptable and unacceptable. War zones disturb and transform the social fabric, radically altering everyday life and cultural practices. At the same time, war also skews the production and circulation of evidence. This Salon considers evidence in the everyday “states of emergency” that war engenders. We ask: How are the contours of science and technology and the relationship between knowledge and nonknowledge shaped by war? How is evidence retrieved, generated, and redistributed in war zones? What are the itineraries of evidence in these contexts? To what extent does evidence circulating in conflict zones retain the imprint of war and violence?