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Authors: Damaliamiri (Nasr, Akbari, Afshar) | Daukas | Davis | Dean | Debessai (Dibble, Moberg, van Anders ) | Decoster | Desautels | Devries | Drabek | Dryden (Kern, Hamilton) | Gavrell | Goldenberg | Gonnerman (Jensen, Marable, O'Rourke, Sertler, Piso) | Grasswick | Hankinson-Nelson | Harding (Foster, Roy, Subramaniam) | Henke | Herbert | Hicks | Hundleby
While it is believed that sex separation is a culture- based approach in Islamic countries,Iran as an Islamic country has paved the way towards sex separation in education and employment especially in technical organizations.The greatest challenge emerging in this process is the lack of human resources in higher education to implement this approach.Therefore,The managerial positions in most academic situations and organizations in Iran have been delegated to men even when the majority of the subjects involved are females.The differences in the view of managing the system through the eyes of men and women have brought about about a confusion for students to follow their education in men-governed or women -governed academics.Basing the educational requirements on practical skills in some academics forces the males to avoid such academic institutions and organizations which rely on intricate technology.The dual approach toward the male and female makes different kinds of assessment in theory and practice.In this study, different types of assessment taking place in different academics in Iran in terms of gender leadership are studied.The results show that gender-biased education is in favor of males and reduces the tendency of females in academic environments.On the other hand, sex separation in higher education makes the assessment unreal as the realm of competition becomes narrow.
This paper argues that testimonial injustice is generated by, and perpetuates, the unjust hermeneutical power of the privileged. It ensures that pernicious social category concepts direct patterns in conversational exchange to give authority to the privileged and withhold it from the marginalized. But how can this (and so many well-documented contemporary injustices due to race, gender, and other social identity categories) continue with impunity in a context in which social justice and equality are explicitly embraced? Appealing to implicit bias explains this contradiction on at the individual level, but what explains it at the cultural level? I argue that together with the normal conservative force of standard epistemic norms, the hermeneutical power of the privileged tacitly enforces the old hierarchical paradigm of the social domain despite surface-level avowals of equality. It can do this because its interpretive framework is flexible enough to adapt to changing socio-economic circumstances, by shifting stereotypes and co-opting core social value concepts, again, with the indispensible instrumental help of testimonial injustice.
So far this kind of account could explain why any paradigm change gets stalled. But there is more going on to stall the shift from a paradigm of hierarchy to a paradigm of equality in the social domain: hermeneutical power manufactures self-confirming social evidence, as it is a primary instrument of social construction. Testimonial injustice ensures that the interpretation of change generated by the perspective of the privileged dominates social consciousness and that alterior interpretations are discredited if heard.
Given culture-wide role of hermeneutical power in resisting social change, efforts to respond to testimonial injustice must engage not only at the individual level. Yes, individual epistemic agents need to develop the self- knowledge necessary for cultivating testimonial and hermeneutical virtues. But a community-wide cultivation of social self-knowledge is necessary to stand up to the force of ongoing hermeneutical power.
In this paper, I wish to diverge from discussing birth control’s undeniable merits to examine how birth control, as it is currently marketed to women, has undermined broader cultural change with respect to men’s and women’s reproductive roles. Currently, there are no long-acting, reversible forms of birth control available for male consumption. By marketing products that exclusively target the female body, the birth control industry renders women the only social group capable of providing the highly desirable service of long term, reliable prevention of unwanted fertility. Furthermore, when a service in demand can only be performed by one social group (albeit, for entirely social reasons), the ease with which members of the service-performing group are manipulated or coerced into performing such services dramatically increases. When the service-performers are members of a historically disenfranchised social group (e.g. women, non-white, disabled, poor), this effect only intensifies. In this paper, I argue that the multi-billion dollar global birth control industry utilizes this market asymmetry to manipulate, and in some cases coerce, women into consuming birth control products for its own financial gain. The industries responsible for the production and distribution of contraception strategically manipulate the circumstances in which a woman’s decision to consume female birth control is (or appears to be) the only acceptable option available to her. I conclude that this asymmetry cannot be justified by appeal to perceived differences between men and women by showing that there is no convincing biological, social, or moral reason why women, as opposed to women and men, should be the consumers of long acting, effective, and reversible contraception. Consequently, the birth control industry has not challenged, but reaffirmed the system of injustice responsible for women’s socially constructed vulnerability with respect to motherhood; the industry is financially incentivized to exploit women’s oppression, rather than alleviate it.
Chloë Taylor (2010) argues that in the contemporary West, diet is what Michel Foucault calls a practice of the self; that is, our alimentary practices, the ways we make and eat and think and talk about food, are central to the constitution, reinforcement, and transformation of our subjectivities. If this is true, then diets are intelligible only within complex ethical frameworks or problematizations which give each practice its meaning and guide its self-constituting effects.
With this in mind, I consider several studies in dietetics linking vegetarianism, dieting and/or eating disorders, all of which find that vegetarians are more likely to display dieting or disordered eating behaviours and “attitudes” than omnivores. My analysis reveals that the researchers either did not differentiate between ways of being vegetarian, or, if they did ask for participants' dietary “motivations” – a thin proxy for an ethical framework – the researchers failed to track the relation between these motivations and the study outcomes. I argue that this is a significant omission. If Susan Bordo (1999) is correct, then eating disorders and weight-loss diets are sets of alimentary practices made possible by the same patriarchal disciplinary ethical framework. Vegetarianism certainly can be practiced within this problematization, but it need not be. I contend that there are other frameworks within which vegetarianism is practiced, which produce selves less caught up in systems of patriarchy, and, thus, less likely to display disordered eating behaviour and attitudes. In short, I argue that by abstracting plant-based diets from their ethical frameworks, this dietetics research problematically links dieting and disordered eating behaviour with particular food choices rather than with problematizations of diet, and further, that it obfuscates the potentially resistant self-constituting effects of vegetarianism. I conclude by considering whether this omission is a necessary part of the studies' methodologies, or if they could be altered in order to integrate this Foucauldian insight.
This poster will present a feminist science laboratory case study about the methodological problematics of quantitatively studying racial/ethnic diversity among illustrated children’s books. In a hypothesis-driven study, we asked “Whom is diversity for?”, hypothesizing that diversity serves primarily as a backdrop for white main characters. As Ahmed (2012) discusses, diversity and inclusion have become a rhetoric that masks racism. We hypothesized that this appropriation of diversity and inclusion would be apparent in the illustrations in children’s books.
Despite the progressive social values that informed the macro-level issues of this research, we quickly realized that the micro-level methodological details carried more epistemological and racial tensions. Here, we discuss the various methodological approaches we entertained, pilot tested, and eventually jettisoned alongside affective, scientific, and other concerns. We will describe how this timeline (from January 2013 and ongoing) paralleled new discussions about (the lack of) racial/ethnic diversity in the lab alongside the presence of other forms of diversity. We discuss how the two topics – diversity in the lab and in the study – became related along a number of dimensions including scientific, affective, and anti-racism/social justice.
We conclude by discussing our transition from trying to figure out how to best measure race/ethnicity in objective-scientific ways (i.e. repeatable, universal), that reinstantiated the very racist problematics we were attempting to transgress, to using subjective-scientific methods that reflected our joint commitments to anti-racism and scientific process, alongside the positive affect of our lab members, themselves situated in ethnic/racial and intersecting identities.
Medicalization is a process by which conditions become defined and treated as medical problems, i.e., appropriately named and managed by health care professionals, and only by them. Medicalization has been theorized by Peter Conrad, Irving Zola, Thomas Sazsa, Michel Foucault, and others. This discussion is important for feminist critique, since women’s health generally, and childbirth specifically, are paradigmatic of the medicalization of health.
Feminist bioethicists have focused on a limited (although important) range of questions regarding medicalization. First, which situations have been, in fact, medicalized? Second, are these examples of “good” or “bad” medicalization? Laura Purdy and Ann Garry, for example, point out that while women’s health has been largely over-medicalized, many women remain thankful and supportive of the healthcare services that have saved women’s lives.
In my paper, I shift critical attention to critique of “demedicalization”: What does it mean to say a purported health condition has been demedicalized? I begin with Conrad’s argument that homosexuality is one of only two “successfully” demedicalized conditions: it was removed 40 years ago from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
While Conrad’s work has had considerable uptake in bioethics and medical sociology literatures, the nature of demedicalization remains problematically unclear. To sort through this concept, I show that while multiple models describe demedicalized health, they have dramatically different implications. For many, demedicalized health is a kind of medicalized health in the right proportion. For others, it is the full removal of medical engagement. Still for others, demedicalization is conceived as returning to a point on a spectrum of clinical engagement. I argue that demedicalized conditions do not occupy the same cultural space that they did before medicalization. Finally, by asking “demedicalized in whose eyes?”, I show that clinical authority and oversight often remain invisible and therefore, problematically, unchallenged.
In this talk, I share some examples of ways that attempts to create equitable organizations can result in backfiring, backlash, and retaliation. I draw on research tied to the experiences of whistleblowers, my own experiences tied to attempting to create equitable organizations and institutions, and on feminist theory and virtue ethics. Whistleblowing in powerful institutions almost always involves retaliation. One way organizations retaliate against women whistleblowers is to use what is often referred to as the “nuts and sluts” strategy for dismissing and discounting a female whistleblower’s testimony. I will share several examples from my own experience of how attempts to improve the climate for women backfired and harmed the climate for women instead. I have engaged in a variety of ways with a National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE grant, and I have provided leadership in a variety of efforts to improve the representation of women in Philosophy. I provide recommendations for how to avoid harming the climate one is trying to improve by drawing on virtue theory and discussing “burdened virtues” (Tessman) of oppressed groups.
Neuro-scientific research on perception locates the central mechanisms of prejudicial cognition at the level of neural interaction. At their worst, neural descriptions of dangerous social phenomena make it possible to view such materialist accounts as poor excuses for human behaviour. Admittedly, many investigations into the physical coordinates of racism, sexism, and other bad habits of social interaction have been recruited to support the powerful value systems which they study. This phenomenon does little to subvert injustice, and has the potential to turn neuroscience into an unwitting accomplice to prejudice. Grounding an ethical theory of social interaction on such theories is extremely difficult. Part of the problem resides in some scientific methodologies which tend toward viewing relevant neural substrates as primarily generative, as opposed to seeing them as both generative and maintaining conditions of behaviour. Determinist attitudes pull the ethical debate around perceptual norms in the direction of materialist reductionism, casting prejudice as a “natural” process of human interaction. Indeterminist accounts often place prejudice firmly and immovably in the social sphere. The latter position resists physicalist accounts of social interaction, and parses ethical concerns and neural accounts into separate spheres of inquiry which seldom interact. In this paper I use Affect Control Theory to show how materialist descriptions can provide ways of thinking about prejudice which bring the two sides of the debate together. I show that materialist descriptions of the generative and maintenance conditions of prejudice are not only viable, but are preferable over descriptions which favour the social over the neural, or vice versa. Because ACT can account for the rich connections between brains, emotions, deliberation, and habits of perception, I argue that ACT provides a solid foundation for robustly ethical neural accounts of social habits.
The classification of gender identity in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatry Association (APA) exemplifies a novel form of social scientific bias that I call ‘feedback bias.’ ‘Feedback bias’ refers to the marginalization of people through the largely unintended effects of social scientific classification. It exemplifies this bias through the effects social scientific classifications have on the people they pick out. Through social scientific classification, the person is marked out as having lesser value or deserving lesser treatment. I begin this paper by introducing feedback bias. I continue by discussing a variety of examples of feedback bias, focusing in particular on cases of gender classification in psychiatry. From these cases I develop a more complete picture of how social scientific classification sometimes marginalizes the people under study.
Panel Abstract: Feminist research in different disciplines is often challenged by an invocation of the ideal of objectivity, particularly as it is associated with scientific rigour and truth. While much feminist theory has either challenged the ideal of objectivity altogether, or alternately has argued that feminist research can actually lead to stronger objectivity, the idea that feminist research is somehow “biased” or “subjective” recurs as an objection lobbed against it.
This panel will juxtapose three different disciplinary approaches to the relationship between feminist research and the ideal of objectivity: philosophy, psychology, and geography. Each of our papers is developed from a consideration of the following questions: How do we address the question of “objectivity”? How do we see its relationship to our feminist research practice? How do we introduce questions and conversations about feminism in our discipline? How do notions of objectivity affect the responses to our work within our disciplines, or within the public consciousness as a whole?
A common project of the papers is to consider how resistance to or overlooking of feminist research can be usefully understood within the framework of the epistemology of ignorance as developed by Nancy Tuana and others. While this has been a recurring topic within philosophy, the panelists believe that exploring it from the perspective of social science and science practitioners as well is valuable in enhancing our understanding of the shared challenges faced by feminist researchers, and hopefully to develop shared strategies.
Dryden, Jane – Philosophers and Water Spaniels: Lessons in Objectivity and Ignorance
Historically, when confronted with a given situation, philosophers adopt a stance of critical questioning and a skepticism about first impressions. In instances of uncertainty about particular cases it often seems more reliable to reach for the universal as a guide, since it is deemed to be objective. This reduces uncertainty, as we subsume the particular thing to the universal case and need not engage with its messy detail.
This type of critical questioning is not always appropriate. As feminist work on the epistemology of ignorance has argued, when confronted with another’s account of their experiences, which differ from one’s own, an attitude of humble, loving ignorance may be warranted. Sometimes one must pause one’s critical doubts in order to place faith in another person’s endeavours. This is particularly important for feminist work in philosophy of disability, where the concepts of “the universal” and “the normal” are themselves in question.
When do I stick to my convictions, and when do I accept that I cannot know and need to have faith? The question could be interpreted ethically or epistemologically, but I will focus on its existential import. Asking philosophers to (temporarily) suspend critical questioning may be received as asking them to suspend their sense of self and their identification with the discipline: this existential dimension may account for some of the hesitance with which the discipline approaches challenges.
Guided by Sandra Harding’s notion of “strong objectivity” and drawing on work in feminist philosophy of disability, I will argue that times of humble acceptance of ignorance can work in tandem with times of critical questioning, in order to gain a fuller, more comprehensive truth. The process necessarily involves risk and moments of vulnerability, but is ultimately truer to philosophy than avoiding the challenge.
Kern, Leslie – Class and Objectivity: How Feminism got Lost on the Way to ‘Critical Urban Studies’
Feminism has had a profound influence on the way geographers think about power, knowledge production, fieldwork, research ethics, and epistemology. So profound in fact, that as a feminist scholar in the field of urban geography, I find that the contributions of feminist theory are rarely identified as such, and instead are subsumed under the broad label “critical urban studies.” The work of feminist geographers may be directly cited in the area of research methods, but is regularly left unacknowledged within theoretical debates on the “big” questions of global urban transformations.
In this paper, I use the concept of willful ignorance to explore the ways in which the umbrella term “critical” has, ironically, functioned to exclude feminist contributions from the privileged place of “theory” in critical urban studies. An overriding focus on capitalism and class oppression works to position class as an objective category (rather than a messy social construct or subjectivity like gender or sexuality) that can be known and apprehended, and therefore serve as a solid, objective base for political-economic urban theory. A willful ignorance of, for example, the gendered dimensions of neoliberal urbanism, serves to position feminist theory as an add-on to the foundational work of critical geography that may enhance - but could never serve as an objective ground for - critical urban theory.
Using the particular area of gentrification research, I will examine the epistemological moves through which class is continually re-centred in critical urban studies. Drawing from my recent research into embodied and emotional landscapes of gentrification, I will argue that feminist engagement with the “messiness” of bodies, embodied practices, and emotions offers the potential for more grounded, intersectional, and politically effective knowledge production about urban inequalities.
Hamilton, Lisa Dawn – Where Does Feminism fit in a Biopsychosocial Approach to Sexual Behavior?
Feminism in psychology is often relegated to the study of the Psychology of Women or the Psychology of Gender and is seen as interfering with objectivity in mainstream psychology. Within, psychology there is a heavy emphasis on the “biopsychosocial” approach to research, which is seen as a gold standard in the field, but it is rare to see empirical research that actually incorporates biological, psychological, and social influences on behavior. The tension between mainstream and feminist psychology exacerbates this problem. Within mainstream psychology, the biological component is privileged, primarily for its illusion of objectivity, and within feminist scholarship, the social (and sometimes psychological) perspective is considered most important to the exclusion of any biological components, leading to a dearth of feminist biopsychosocial research.
Focusing on my research area of sexual behaviour, this paper will use an epistemology of ignorance framework to address the reasons for the limited feminist research using the biopsychosocial approach and will include an assessment of both historical and current problems. Both feminist and non-feminist researchers demonstrate forms of ignorance, which ultimately diminish objectivity and contribute to poorer science than acknowledging the biases inherent in all research.
Moving past these forms of ignorance might allow researchers to make better use of the biopsychosocial approach and to better incorporate feminist research into psychological research. To demonstrate the ways in which feminism can be incorporated into the biopsychosocial study of sexual behavior, I will provide examples of the limited published research that has done this well (e.g., work by Sari van Anders), and I will also use concrete examples from my current empirical work on a) stress and sexual function and b) (non)monogamy as case examples of ways feminist approaches can influence a biopsychosocial study of sexual behavior.
In this paper I argue that there are good reasons to conclude that an imposed cesarean, e.g. a court-ordered cesarean, is a form of torture. Rather than analyzing the complex concept of torture, I explore some of the similarities between the experience and the effects of rape, childbirth, and imposed cesareans, and the experience and the effects involved in different accounts of torture. Arguably, the most significant aspect of torture is that it may produce a sense of helplessness that can shatter our sense of agency. It can also undermine our trust in others and our sense of safety in the world. Torture survivor Jean Amery notes that in torture, other people treat us as a mere means for their purposes: “they will do with me what they want….the boundaries of my body are also the boundaries of myself”. Using women’s narratives, I show that these are also potential effects of imposed cesareans. I conclude that a policy allowing the imposition of cesareans by physicians, e.g. using emergency court orders, is an impermissible institutionalized form of torture during childbirth even if not allowing the imposition of cesareans is understood as infanticide.
Recent breathtaking scientific misconduct cases have been characterized by a focus on the individual wrongdoer—the names and personas of Andrew Wakefield, Hwang Woo Suk, and Jan Hendrick Schon, for instance, receive considerable professional and media attention. My interest in heroes and scoundrels borrows from a familiar trope in science studies, the masculine scientific “hero”, which figures crucially in explaining the trust relationships (cf. Hardwig, Shapin, Shaffer, Rolin) that constitute modern scientific practice. I offer a new counterpart narrative, “the scoundrel”, that I see operating in cases of scientific misconduct. While the hero underwrites objectivity in science, that is science’s unique epistemic ability to discern matters of fact, the scoundrel serves to narrow focus and blame attribution onto individual scientists’ moral and professional failings, thereby evading larger structural critiques. Whereas Robert Boyle has been personified as the exemplar of this modern scientific “hero”, a virtuous gentleman whose scientific observations could be trusted, I will offer Andrew Wakefield, the primary researcher and vilified culprit in the notorious MMR vaccine-autism scandal, as scoundrel. I will argue that just as the hero narrative’s individualist focus has obscured the non-rational aspects of science—particularly the role of trust in scientific knowledge production—the ‘scoundrel’ also obscures important features of the actual working of science. I will focus on the well-documented persistent public support still afforded to Wakefield despite concerted efforts by health authorities to discredit him (as part of a public health strategy to calm public fear over vaccine safety). Wakefield is seen as a maverick, speaking truth to power, while the scientific establishment looks suspect in a seeming organized effort to suppress “inconvenient truths” (i.e. Habakus and Holland). I draw from recent scholarship by Scheman and Grasswick on trust relations between science and the publics to analyze Wakefield’s maverick appeal, and situate that appeal within a self-engendered trust problem created by scientific institutions that have been largely unreflexive about their own practices and how they are perceived by the public whose trust they depend on.
This paper explores the intersection of interdisciplinary research and epistemologies of ignorance. Interdisciplinary research is frequently championed as a necessary approach to social and environmental problems. Interdisciplinary integration broadens researchers’ knowledge base, increasing their ability to investigate these problems. Philosophical examination of interdisciplinarity has addressed the epistemological dimensions and difficulties of such integration. We draw from the epistemology of ignorance to focus on how interdisciplinary integration may systematically obscure certain values. We begin with a brief characterization of how knowledge is disciplined through scientific specialization. While disciplining knowledge yields powerful methods of interacting with the world, it does so by privileging certain ways of knowing. How we approach social-environmental problems is shaped by our knowledge and ignorance. Together, these foreground certain elements of a problem and background others, supporting responses that will have a differential and potentially unjust impact on affected communities. Interdisciplinary research leverages multiple ways of disciplining knowledge in order to develop approaches to social-environmental problems that might justly serve diverse communities. Key decisions concerning integration then are not simply epistemic—they should be thought of as "coupled ethical-epistemic" decisions, bearing on how the research team prioritizes certain ideals (Tuana 2010). When integrating across multiple disciplines, norms that inform how knowledge is included and organized should be carefully criticized. In order to systematize this criticism, we review several taxonomies of ignorance (Alcoff 2007, Smithson 2008, Townley 2006, Tuana 2006) and derive three dimensions of ignorance: whether we are aware or unaware of the ignorance; whether we are complicit in the persistence of the ignorance; whether the ignorance persists through the construction of epistemically disadvantaged identities. We then use these dimensions to analyze a specific interdisciplinary effort. Interdisciplinary research teams can manage ignorance and avoid unjustly privileging certain ideals by considering how integration of knowledge may privilege certain knowledge.
In her 2007 book, Miranda Fricker put the concept of epistemic injustice on the map of feminist and social epistemology. She focused on two particular forms of epistemic injustice: testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice. In both cases, she demonstrated how those who are socially marginalized can suffer epistemic wrongs in virtue of compromises to their abilities as speakers or contributors to inquiry that result from unjust social relations. In this paper I expand the concept of epistemic injustice beyond Fricker’s analysis, introducing a third form that concerns the socially marginalized in their capacities as potential recipients of knowledge rather than as contributors. I focus on the conditions required to receive scientific knowledge, generated as it is within communities and institutions of experts far removed from most lay people, let alone those who occupy socially marginalized positions. While it is common place to point out that we must trust experts in order to know much of the world, I argue that what is actually required is a responsible trust. For trust to be responsible, there must be some body of evidence for the trustworthiness of the source. Yet in the case of many marginalized groups, histories of scientific research communities failing to serve the needs of the marginalized well and exploiting members of the groups as research subjects give such groups good reason to distrust scientific communities and their results (Scheman 2001). In these cases, the distrust expressed in such groups seems responsible, and trust in scientific institutions from the perspective of the marginalized would seem to be irresponsible. If responsible trust is not possible in such contexts, socially marginalized groups are being denied opportunities to know (responsibly) through trust. I investigate what scientific institutions might do to improve the possibilities for members of marginalized groups to be able to form responsible trust in scientific results, and I argue for the epistemic importance of recognizing and understanding the mechanisms of this particular form of epistemic injustice.
The inspirations of this talk are four.
First, I was privileged to secure the funding at the University of Washington and organize the first FEMMSS conference there in 2004. It was a fantastic conference as witnessed by the fact that we now celebrate a 10th annual FEMMSS conference.
Second, the University of Washington, thanks to my colleague Alisson Wylie and others, hosted the journal Hypatia at the University of Washington for many years, and was the site of the 25th anniversary conference of the journal. During the last plenary session of that conference, our more junior colleagues presented talks in which they envisioned the future of feminist philosophy, and feminist scholarship more broadly. One speaker reported that she had asked Joan Callahan for advice about the future, and that Joan responded “We are retiring and dying. You will have to figure it out.” The speaker did, so to speak, freak out and say to older audience members, of which I was one, “You cannot leave us! What are we supposed to do without you?” A heavy burden, indeed. What have we given them that they can use? What can we now do to help them further?
Third, like lots of us, I am close to retirement. I plan to publish articles and a collection of essays that I hope will make original contributions to feminist philosophy of science and epistemology. But I am also working on a textbook in my field and wonder if others should not as well for reasons I will explicate. Related to this, I considered the anonymous reviews of a prospectus for this textbook, Biology and Feminism: An Introduction” I had been invited to submit for the series Cambridge Introductions to Biology and Philosophy. Two reviewers who teach feminist philosophy of science said there is a real need for such a volume, and recounted experiences much like my own (difficulties with current anthologies, and so forth). The third was as telling. Of the first line – “Are there any substantive connections between biology and feminism”, she or he exclaimed “Haven’t we moved way beyond this question?”
Of course we have, for some we. But many academic colleagues and students have not. It is terrifically important that those of us no longer subject to the nonsensical aspects of academia, and having 30 or 40 years of experience to draw on, address this for the sake of the future, including that of our younger colleagues.
Panel Abstract: Feminisms, postcolonialisms, and science and technology studies are all recognized research fields with powerful theoretical and methodological projects. Decades ago influential theorists such as Donna Haraway, Sharon Traweek, and Vandana Shiva identified projects at the intersections of these fields. A number of feminist scientists have participated in developing important projects guided by one or more combinations of themes in these literatures. Today there are lively literatures in feminist postcolonial studies, postcolonial science studies, and Northern feminist science studies, each of which is influencing public policy. Moreover, the women, gender and Third World development literatures, which clearly draw on all of these theoretical and methodological strategies have produced powerful critiques not only of patriarchal and colonial science and technology projects, but also of more basic Enlightenment assumptions still powerful in the philosophies, policies, and practices of modern Western sciences.
Yet much contemporary work in these fields can feel under- theorized, and insufficiently alert to global political economy issues. All too often analyses that could be drawing on fundamental insights of more of these fields fail to do so. Frequently it is only simplistic “add Others and stir” versions of feminism, postcolonialism, and/or science studies that direct research. Moreover, the intellectual and political goal of transforming the actual scientific research that frequently has bad effects on the most economically and politically vulnerable social groups is all too often neglected.
This session intends to expand concerns of these fields into each others’ in order to contribute to more illuminating and politically effective coalitions between them.
Foster, Laura – Decolonizing Innovation: Patent Law as Technique of Governmentality and Whiteness
Innovation is understood as the continual drive towards transforming materials, processes, ideas, bodies, identities, and labor into capital. The obligation to innovate is not a new concept. Yet, it has been taken up in new ways as capitalist expression moves from manufacturing towards a “cognitive capitalism” where importance is placed on producing and harnessing creative intellectual activity. Patent law ownership has become a central tool within neoliberal demands for innovation, which focuses on strengthening capitalist markets through the regulation of knowledge.
As a strategy towards decolonizing innovation, this paper examines patent ownership as a mode of governmentality that reinforces scientific authority and its associations with whiteness by reinscribing binaries of both western/indigenous and human/non-human. Developing this inquiry, this paper specifically addresses Indigenous San peoples’ struggles over the patenting of Hoodia plant knowledge in Southern Africa. In particular, it asks the following three questions: (1) how does patent law ownership produce normative values concerning whose bodies and ways of knowing matter most; (2) how does patent law reinforce scientific authority and its associations with whiteness through the hierarchical re-ordering of knowledge production; and (3) how might a contingent alignment of new feminist materialisms and post-colonial feminist science studies enable critiques of global capital and mechanisms of patent law? Such questions become important lines of inquiry for decolonizing innovation and harnessing creative intellectual capital towards more socially just ways of doing and regulating scientific knowledge production.
Harding, Sandra – After Mr. Nowhere: Proper Scientific Selfs
Should “feminist postcolonial science and technology studies” name a research field? It does not now do so, and every term in this phrase is itself contested. What does and should count as feminism? As science? As technology? As indigenous research? As science and technology studies? As colonialism? As postcolonialism, globalization, transnationalism, anti-racism? How do and should capitalism and class concerns figure in accounts shaped by these terms? How do these conflicts effect research methodologies and philosophies of science and technology? This presentation will attempt to start mapping some of the most intellectually and politically powerful of such contestations. It will argue that the persistence of these terminology conflicts can be understood as a great strength of this field. At issue in these conflicts are the often divergent needs of people in distinct social locations around the globe where science and technology issues about women, gender, racism, and colonial residues and reinventions continue to matter. Figuring out how to appropriately negotiate these contestations is crucial for the task of relinking scientific and technical research to democratic public policy.
Roy, Deboleena – (Re)Turning to Materiality: Moments of Shared Perplexity for Feminist and Postcolonial STS
Both feminist and postcolonial STS have independently been charged with insufficient commitments to a materialist approach to biology. Are these charges justified? An important tenet of new materialism is based on the logic that previous feminist engagements with biology have not only placed too much value on the social and cultural, but that they have been antibiologistic. The genealogy traced by this gesture is curious as it actively attempts to draw the disciplinary boundaries of feminist STS. Many feminists who have attempted to engage with biology or the materiality of the body either as social scientists, cultural theorists, or even as biologists, are no doubt puzzled by this indictment of anti-biologism. Regrettably, stances against biological determinism and questionable scientific practices have been interpreted as stances against the materiality of the body and biology itself. There is an emerging movement from within postcolonial studies that also shares this same desire for new materialist approaches and for a return to the hard sciences. A claim has been put forward that many postcolonial theorists “loathe science,” and similar to their feminist counterparts, have turned instead to literary analysis. There is a deep interest in what new materialism might do for postcolonial theory. The reasons and results may be different, but there is an opportunity of shared perplexity here for feminist STS and postcolonial STS scholars to carefully reflect on this common desire to turn or return to materiality.
Subramaniam, Banu – Transacting Nature and Nurture: The Case of Surrogacy in Postcolonial India
The debate about nature versus nurture is a long enduring one in evolutionary biology as well as western political culture. The debate re-inscribes the logic of the binary biological and political, and natural and social. Since Francis Galton’s coining of the long enduring phrase “nature versus nurture” – we have been caught up in debates about human biology: arguing whether it is best explained by a paradigm of innate nature or a social nurture. As women’s studies has long taught us what is at stake in these choices is profound – the option of nature renders traits as immutable and unchanging, prone to political responses of inaction or reproductive sterilization. Conversely, the option of nurture renders traits as mutable and open to possibilities of progressive public policy to create a more equitable and just world. We have been locked in both biological and cultural debates on nature and nurture, and like a pendulum, vacillating from one pole to another. Feminists have well documented the high burden that this debate has placed on the bodies of women, especially poor and third world women through violent histories of reproductive coercion and control. Here I reexamine the debates of nature and nurture using surrogacy in postcolonial India as a site of analysis. What is striking in this literature is the severely under-theorized aspects of caste in analyses of surrogacy in contemporary India. Drawing on the history of evolutionary biology and contemporary work in genetics, I argue that the absence of caste marks a new moment in the nature nurture debates where women’s biologies are being reformulated again to accommodate the needs and desires of a globalized and neoliberal world. Feminists need to re-theorize the body and re-imagine the relationship of feminism and science.
Needless to say, women continue to be considerably underrepresented in the scientific sphere. In this context, the European Commission launched a marketing campaign in 2012 to attract female students to science and technology. However, the well-intentioned video clip titled “Science – It’s A Girl Thing” openly resorts to sexist stereotypes. This example demonstrates the constant need for gender discourse, most notably in the field of science. The current paper explores the representation of women in visual media with a focus on film, drawing on established typologies of stereotypes formulated by Haynes (1996), Flicker (2003), Steinke (2005) and Colatrella (2011) such as the mad/bad, noble, inhuman, and dangerous scientists or the (female) old maid, male woman, daughter or assistant, lonely heroin, and babe scientist.
This paper juxtaposes an older and a younger film production in order to investigate if and how representations of female scientists differ in visual media. Against this backdrop, Robert Zemerick’s CONTACT (1997) and Steven Soderbergh’s CONTAGION (2011) serve as case studies. In addition to identifying possible stereotypes my focus also rests on the depiction of space in film. Spatial relations can be particularly revealing when it comes to understanding (gendered) power structures and thus potentially contribute to stereotyping. Here I examine the symbolic function of the spaces and places in which the female characters move as well as the borders they might encounter. Where exactly in the scientific sphere do we find female scientists? In the public university lab, the private company, or hidden away in a cellar at home? How are territories defined in the scientific workplace? Are female scientists included in or excluded from certain spaces, and how does this affect their access to knowledge and power? Is science in fiction film represented as a “girl thing” or does it continue to be a male-only domain?
Peripheral speech is the non-official speech that experts engage in as community members. The pragmatic force of this speech helps to negotiate and solidify the boundaries of the community. Philosophy blogs are a venue of peripheral speech; this makes the contours of discourse here particularly salient. There is good reason to believe that comments associated with traditionally female names receive explicit recognition less often than do comments submitted by traditionally male names. If philosophy blogs are an important site for constituting our community, then it matters who gets explicit recognition in this process. Crediting ‘Roxanne’ has the pragmatic effect of legitimizing Roxanne’s contributions, and has the normative effect of legitimizing women’s voices more broadly. Consistent patterns of recognition or lack thereof can have powerful effects on our community. Not all commenters use traditionally male or female names: often, commenters use pseudonyms. Using a pseudonym can be an important form of resistance and transgression against entrenched community power structures. There is good reason to believe that those with less social capital are more likely to use pseudonyms than those who have greater social capital. If it matters who gets explicit recognition for their contributions in peripheral discourse, then pseudonyms impede this: one can credit the pseudonym, but with no identity markers attached to the name, the kind of broad constitutive power that such recognition would normally include is impeded. Any explicit recognition includes that speaker in the community, but no others. If marginalized speakers are more likely to use pseudonyms, then the kind of broad recognition outlined earlier is structurally blocked off. I argue that certain venues of peripheral speech are particularly hazardous for those who are already less-empowered and the mechanisms for mitigating these hazards can serve to re-entrench the boundaries of community such that this disempowerment is perpetuated.
In this presentation, I examine genetically modified foods as a case study in the role of trust in interactions between scientific research and the public.
A prominent argument for the development and use of genetically modified foods [GMOf] is that they are necessary to "feed the world." I examine three review essays — two by proponents of GMOf, who argue that they have already increased crop yields, and one by an opponent of GMOf, who argues that they have not — that have been cited frequently within the public discussion of GMOf. I show that the partisan conclusions of the essays are due to the different sets of evidence that they have cited.
In the second part of the talk, I take up the issue of trust. Torsten Wilholt has argued that *epistemic trust* is important in scientific research: a researcher must be able to trust the claims of other researchers. Specifically, Wilholt argues that a researcher is trustworthy only insofar as she aims at producing truth. However, lines of scientific research often have non-epistemical practical aims, such as "feeding the world." Combined with accounts of trust developed by Annette Baier and feminist epistemologists, this suggests a generalization: **a researcher's claims are trustworthy for another person only insofar as they are relevant to that person's interests**.
Finally, I argue that, the evidence cited in all three GMOf review essays enjoys only limited trustworthiness for opponents. The controversy is as much about the social-political-economic structure of the food system as health, safety, and food production. That is, opponents generally are opposed to the status quo food system. But the evidence cited in each of the review essays is relevant to the status quo system, not the alternatives advocated by GMO opponents.
The fallacies approach to argument evaluation may help to identify emerging problems with how people understand science. Errors occur, of course, in the popular understanding, but scientists likewise may be prone to particular sorts of errors that we might call fallacies. The problems evinced by scientists themselves seem to be the most egregious and also potentially dangerous because they carry authority and involve technical matters that may make them extra difficult to recognize.
Elisabeth A. Lloyd (2006) found one area of scientific study, the evolutionary science of the female orgasm, to be pervaded by adaptationism: treating all characteristics of an organism as adaptations. That tendency to universalize may be complicated by a desire to reduce phenomena to others, a common understanding of how scientific explanation works. Reduction may be considered a virtue of science, but in excess may also constitute a vice. When it becomes problematic, reduction may be diagnosed using the classical fallacy of accident, which accounts for our tendency to make universal claims and ignore exceptions. Such generalization makes reductionist claims possible.
Thus we see how adaptationism provides an example of a much larger phenomenon, that poses specific problems scientific inquiry. The technical nature of science may mask a fairly common error, that of over-generalizing. Likewise, in the context of philosophy, ignoring exceptions is part of a process of idealization that Charles Mills (2005) argues undermines a theory’s effectiveness. The connections with both science and contemporary philosophy suggest that the fallacy of accident demands extra attention from methodologists and from teachers of critical thinking whose students need to be able to question scientific generalizations, perhaps especially if they become scientists.