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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

From the STS Journals

What's new in the STS journals?

  • Theory, Culture & Society  has a review of Giorgio Agamben's most current book, The Signature of All Things. Unfortunately, Cornell's subscription to the journal has a 1-year moving wall, so I can't say more. doi:10.1177/0263276411398277 
  • The current issue of Social Studies of Science has several interesting article.
    • Dimitris Papadopoulos, who was crucial in turning me from a psychology student into an STSer, writes about "Alter-ontologies: Towards a constituent politics in technoscience." After summarizing four approaches to the relation between science and politics -- formalist, participatory, assembly, grounded -- and discussing their problems and shortcomings, Papadopoulos develops the notion of "alter-ontologies" and "constituent politics" as an alternative. Using the case of AIDS activism in the 1980s, Papadopoulos how the creation of new materially grounded "forms of life" based around the notion of justice and emergent forms of everyday experience in the 1980s were a necessary antecedent to the forms of politics focused on expertise and inclusion that Steve Epstein has described. I highly recommend reading the whole article. doi:10.1177/0306312710385853
    • Daniel Nevon discusses "genomic designation," the definition of a medical category based on specific genetic variations that is not dependet on the prior existence of a phenotypically defined disease category. doi:10.1177/0306312710391923
    • Harry Collins explores the realm between language and practice and argues that "language is, and must be, more central than physical practice in individual acquisition of practical understanding. Only this makes it possible for there to be a sociology of scientific knowledge, for there to be scientific specialities, for there to be a division of labour in society and for there to be a society that is more than a set of narrow and isolated worlds." doi:10.1177/0306312711399665
    • Collins's work is also the focus of Park Doing's review essay on "Tacit knowledge: Discovery by or topic for science studies?" By discussing Collin's latest book on "Tacit and explicit knowledge" and the re-issue of Polanyi's "Tacit Dimension, Doing asks "what tacit knowledge means to the field of science studies." doi:10.1177/0306312710397690 
  • Social History of Medicine reviews a number of interesting books:
    • David Herzberg reviews Laura Hirshbein's contribution to the history of depression in the US in the 20th century, titled American Melancholy: Constructions of Depression in the Twentieth Century. Much has been written on this topic, but Herzberg points out two specific contributions of Hirshbein: the role of professional psychiatrists in pushing the disease and "new insight into how that expansion gendered depression such that it became a ‘women's disease’." doi:10.1093/shm/hkr015 
    • Christine Leuenberger concludes her review of Paul Stepansky's account of the rise and fall of psychoanalysis over the course of the 20th century as follows: "As an insider and yet an outsider, Stepansky has a unique, rare and valuable perspective on the social history of American psychoanalysis. But his message that psychoanalysis has yet to become a science will not always be welcome. However, if psychoanalysts do not heed this call for change, the profession is likely to end up like railway surgeons and psychological mediums—a footnote to the history of professions." doi:10.1093/shm/hkr016
    • Another work about psychiatry is Jonathan Metzl's The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, reviewed by Priscilla Wald. Metzl's put the psychiatric category of schizophrenia in the context of the Civil Rights Movement and racism and "how anxious responses to the dramatic transformations enacted by the Civil Rights Movement translated into a racist redefinition of schizophrenia as a disease of angry black men." doi:10.1093/shm/hkr027   
    • Gordon Shepherd, himself a prominent neuroscientist and insider to the history he is writing, has written an account of "Creating Modern Neuroscience: The Revolutionary 1950s", reviewed by Charles Gross. Despite some deficits in specific topics, Gross praises the book as "required reading for virtually everyone in the field." doi:10.1093/shm/hkr020
  • Not in the journals, but definitely worth reading is this interview with the anthropologist Marilyn Strathern.

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