Friday, August 22, 2008
Today I wasn’t feeling well at all..so I decided to rent a bike :-). That got my nervous energy out from the conference. I didn’t think I would be able to sit thru the first panel because my presentation was after that, but it was called Feminist Technology Studies: New Directions and it was great. Wendy Faulkner and Ulf Mellstrom chaired. I missed the first presentation entitled “Should we forget gender?”, so everyone was all steamed up by the time I got in.
Mostly women were there and some men as audience members. Conversely the panel was mostly men (I don’t know if the first panelist was male or female). So the structure of this asked: can men (having, perhaps not currently being in the body of a female) reflect accurately on the female experience of science and technology.
Wendy Faulker presented her work on how women engineers are visible as women first, then engineers. I think she should have situated this gender analysis in western culture (I do think her analysis is accurate IF it is positioned in that way.)
Pablo Schyfter presented on men and women motorcyclists in Costa Rica. He used a combination of Judith Butler and Wiebe Bjiker as theorists which I thought was interesting. I think his talk was more interesting than the title of his talk..Queering the artifact Subject, Object, and Heteronormaty. I believe Dag Balkmar also invoked Butler on his talk on Swedish drag racing. I did enjoy his talk. I love Butler’s work, and think that a theory of performity is good for STS.
In general I think to really rock the boat, a discussion of the place of trans women in feminism and STS is also effective in unseating biological ideas of feminism. Where was that in this session? Surely there have been some trans women who have contributed to science, and technology. Could that be a new direction?
The person who really did the “new directions” work of this panel for me the best was Ulf Mellstrom’s presentation: The Intersection of GEnder, Race, and Cultural Boundaries, or Why is Computer Science in Malaysia Dominated by women? I thought this was amazing because it totally unseated western enculturated ideas around female identity. I think this is the work that needs to be done in STS, because it broached the real issue in feminist studies, which is why has feminism been dominated by white women?
I presented on behalf of AstroDime at the next panel..it was fun and informative, we averted disaster when we didn’t have any computer to show astrodime’s video, and everyone else’s powerpoints, but my little EEEPC came to the rescue..it worked ok, and the panel went on without a hitch. some questions in my mind afterwords..although the tin can telecommunications has come out of STS theories such as SCOT, how do I position it to STS scholars who are primarly writers and not performance artists?
Next panel I went to was Public Understanding of Science in Europe and the USA. Pretty broad topic (perhaps to make it more comparative, less general if it has that title? and have discussion?) David Long’s paper Scientists Acting against the Creation Museum was very interesting and nuanced. The Creation Museum is a truly well funded museum in Kentucky started by Ken Han who was originally from Australia that argues against evolution, and for intelligent design. David Long’s analysis was of this protest led by scientists against the museum. He looked at both the scientists and the success of the museum which draws thousands a day. His most interesting point was that this project is “Modernizing the pre-moderns..but scientists view it as corrupted modernism” (approximate quote). All in all, really interesting.
Cathy Sullivan presented on evaluating a STEM program (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics” in the early school grades. i think STEM could be a really good connection with and to STS, but the STS academic community isn’t really aware of it as a movement in gradeschool, I think. Her presentation was interesting to me because i was familiar with it, but i think there were people there who didn’t know what it was.
I went to the plenary later on but to be honest i was so fried, i dont’ think i took anything from it except Nelly Oudshoorn’s idea that STS should look at non-users of a specific technology as well as users otherwise the data is incomplete.
The day ended at a great bar called the Locus pub (www.locus-publicus.com) and then dinner with Wendy at Bazaar, a restaurant with really good Moroccan and North African food.