MUSTS colloquium ‘STS Making & Doing’, on Wednesday 18 March

MUSTS Colloquium ‘STS Making & Doing: Situated Intervention as Knowledge Expression and Travel’ by Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (Athena Institute, VU University, Amsterdam).

When: Wednesday 18 March, 15.30 – 17.00
Where: Attic, GG 80-82

Abstract

How can the direct involvement of scholars in the practices they study contribute to the transformation of those practices while leading to new STS knowledge? Fitting neither the labels of “detached” nor “engaged” scholarship, Situated Intervention brings together two activities often viewed as belonging to different realms: intervening in practices and furthering scholarly understanding of them. Whereas philosophers of science such as Ian Hacking have since the 1980s emphasised the importance of intervening for the history of the natural sciences, and although STS has an equally long history of acknowledging the importance of material agency in knowledge production, such insights are increasingly turned upon the practices of STS scholarship itself. Initiatives like the STS Making & Doing programme organised by the Society for Social Studies of Science aim at highlighting resulting new modes of STS knowledge production, expression, and travel.

In this talk, Teun illustrates the potential value of such emerging approaches by exploring a series of experimental interventions in the field of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and more specifically in guideline development practices. He argues that such scholarship, through the mobilisation of STS sensibilities about non-linear knowledge development and the situatedness of hierarchies of credibility, can help generate spaces of transformation that ‘lie between’ the opposite shores of EBM and sociology – what Michel Serres would call the ‘third space’. Teun also shows how his attachment to knowledge infrastructures as sites of epistemological politics got seriously challenged by guideline developers and how he had to read up on philosophy of science to catch up with them. Situated intervention thus makes scholars far from detached, but allows them to be maximally surprised by emerging knowledge and normativities within experiments. Through situated intervention STS therefore not merely has more to offer to the practices it studies; it also has more to learn from them.

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