REMINDER: Seminars with Steve Woolgar and Sky Gross

The Graduate Programme in Medicine, Culture and Society, and the Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies invite you to two seminars.

Steve Woolgar: It could be otherwise: provocation, irony and limits

Date: 11th November, 2014

Time: 15:00 – 17:00

Venue: CSS 1.1.18

A short reception will be held after the seminar in Room 10.0.11


One element of the success of STS is its capacity to apply analytic scepticism to a wide range of areas beyond science (which we used to think of as the hardest possible case) and technology. Yet STS’ radical potential has been continually compromised by successive failures of nerve and by its routinisation, appropriation and domestication. In this paper I outline some key features of provocation in STS as provided by the slogan “It Could Be Otherwise”. I consider the fate of radical STS arguments. And I look in particular at the operation of irony and at the limits on provocation, if any. If my nerve holds, I shall try to work some of this through in relation to reportings of 911.

Sky Gross: Reconsidering Science, Technology, and Religion: Objectionable Objects and Chimeric Authorities in a Debate over Brain-Death in Israel

Date: 12th November, 2014

Time: 15:00 – 16:30

Venue: CSS 1.1.18


This paper follows the rejection of the conflict narrative of science and religion, and challenges the accepted demarcation thesis by closely analyzing one particular case-study: the religious acceptance of Brain-Death in Israel by a technologically-savvy group of rabbis whose religious doctrine and form of reasoning are used to support the truth claims of the scientific community (brain death is death) but challenge the ways in which they are made credible. Brain-Death as “true” death is made religiously viable with the very use of technological apparatus and scientific rhetorics that stand at the heart of the scientific ethos, disentangling actors from their assigned monothetic associations with homogeneous sets of epistemologies, methodologies, and regimes of truth. Two conceptualizations are offered: “objectionable objects” as objects that are –inherently or otherwise- associated with deep controversy (here, brain-death); And “chimeric authority” as a particular form of resolution (or attempt at resolution) that involves the webbing of several sources of authoritativeness to either thwart the adoption of the objectionable object or smoothen its acceptance. In this case, tradition and technology – with each its own aesthetics, discursive qualities, and assigned authority – are shown to play critical roles, both in the particular and the more generalizable sense.