We are putting together a multi-panel symposium on what we call “Pariah Science,” which will analyse the processes of legitimization-illegitimization of science in the modernity. Please find the abstract of the session below. If you are interested in participating, please send a short abstract and a cv to Jan Surman ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>) before 20. November 2015. (for more info on the ESHS conference visit their homepage at http://www.7eshs2016.cz/)
Friedrich Cain / Jan Surman / Zsuzsanna Török
Pariah sciences. Episteme, Power and Legitimization of Knowledge, from Animal Electricity to Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions. Symposium at the 7th International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science
Venue: Prague, Czech Republic
Date: 22–24 September, 2016
Organizers: Friedrich Cain (Konstanz), Jan Surman (Marburg), Zsuzsanna Török (Konstanz)
If history should be the history of winners, much is lost in the process of writing it. Our session aims at looking consciously at precise moments at which modern disciplines, research programs or scholars cross the threshold of legitimacy, one way or another. We intend to analyze via microstudies how science is made legitimate/illegitimate, who are the actors behind this process and which strategies have led to achieving the quality of crossing this strong discursive boundary. Cold fusion, 19th century natural law, astrology, Lyssenkoism, Soviet sociology, are known examples of how knowledge once regarded legitimate turned into “pariah science” (Goodstein 1994), the two latter fields also going the other way round. But the ways their stories are told differ greatly, ranging from references to obstacles presented to them by political power to failure to bring reliable results. We feel, however, that the canvas is more complex, and can be unwoven best through case studies, which will include cultural, religious, political and epistemic factors.
Regarding the political framework, our symosium addresses not only absolutist, despotic, totalitarian and semi-totalitarian regimes, which, as recent studies have accentuated, allowed lot of individual freedom and thus manipulation, but also constitutional monarchies and liberal democracies where science has been a field closely interwoven with politics. Moreover, recent works in anthropology (Proctor/Schiebinger 2008) have focused on a field that spans between politics and scholarship on the one hand, and provable and not provable information on the other. In this highly politicized arena, notions of ambiguity become central to discourses transgressing science and politics. Indeed, the field of exclusion and delegitimization is a particularly tangled one: governments and (un-)enlightened despots used religious claims to legitimize the banning of politically unwanted knowledge, while the Church (re-)connected with politicians and political activists to achieve its epistemic aims (e.g. Roman Catholic Church in the anti-modernist struggle). Scholars often played a key role in these struggles helping to sustain their research programs by cutting off their competitors with the help of non-academic actors. Visualizing the strings and actors pulling them, will give, as we believe, a detailed and dynamic view of science as an endeavor involving manifold actors, not only those confined to academia. We are interested in case studies from around the globe addressing one or more of the issues listed below. We are particularly keen on contributions problematizing the politics-scholarship dichotomy:
- Who were the actors and institutions behind the processes of legitimization and delegitimization of knowledge? What were their aims and interests? What were their strategies?
- What were the strategies of defending knowledge under attack? What were the arenas of negotiation?
- What happened to delegitimized knowledge (and scholars)? Was it conveniently hidden into basement, or spatially, medially and discursively removed? Could delegitimized scholars pursue their interest, remain in academia with different affiliations or were they persecuted?
- We are also interested in contested cases, where the battle for legitimation has not been decided, e.g. in the case of alternative healing methods in postwar medicine, such as Homeopathy.
Dr. Jan Surman
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Leibniz Graduate School “History, Knowledge, Media in East Central Europe”
Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe
Gisonenweg 5-7, D-35037 Marburg
Email: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Tel.: +49 6421 1754983