Language’s others. STS-Knowledge as text, image and sound
Location: Conference centre Soeterbeeck, Ravenstein
Organisation: Marjatta Kemppainen
As STS-scholars we have studied how other disciplines use non-textual knowledge (images, sounds) as knowledge (rather than as ‘mere’ illustrations) but not often have we looked at how images, sounds, models, and other forms of non-textuality are or could be employed as forms of knowledge in our own fields of study. Our methodologies for collecting data as well as the modalities with which we ‘do’ STS knowledge tend to be heavily language-b(i)ased. This workshop takes us to unpack what we have all come to practice per default, to what is unquestionably our ‘normal’, our habitus: to translate whatever riddles we come across, every data we collect, everything we want to convey to others, into language and to employ language’s others – pictures, sounds, models – as ‘mere’ illustration. In this workshop, we ask three questions. First, how does language act as mediator, that is: how does it frame and mold our research? Second, what do scientific forms do for other disciplines, and (so) what do or might they do for us? For example: do/could they help us constitute disciplinary identities and boundaries; produce specific forms of objectivity, bias, politics, subjectivities? And third, can we think out of the box and do research and fabricate STS-knowledge in other ways? We look into theory (text as one form of epistemology), methodology (collecting and using non-textual data), and function (non-textual knowledge-claims).
STS (or social-scientific) knowledge is primarily made from language, or so we are bound to believe and practice. We write theses, books and articles and we tend to translate the things we observe, collect, measure and hear into arguments that are fundamentally made up of words, sentences. But from STS studies we know that knowledge also exists as image, sound, film, perhaps even smell and touch; that data are quite regularly made of other stuff than words, and that our society is moved increasingly by other media than words only: visual, digital and other empirical technologies abound. Also in a more mundane sense, the boundaries of text are felt every day. In the age of electronic communication and information processing, new orderings of knowledge occur. The linear organization of text – written and read from top to bottom, from intro to conclusion – has been given a blow by the emergence of hypertext some two decades ago. Also ‘big data’ might invite a different structuring of knowledge than is hitherto achieved through linear text and tables and graphs. The organization of knowledge is dynamic and evolving, and elusive at that.
This workshop will start from a reflection on STS-text-as-knowledge, how it mediates and what the boundaries of this mediation are. Extending the scope, we will then move into other areas such as visual and acoustic media. Finally, we will ask how as STS-researchers we can (and sometimes already do) use visual and other non-textual forms as integral (i.e. as more than illustrations) in our research.
Catelijne Coopmans (University of Singapore), Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmith’s University of London), Alexandra Supper (Maastricht University)
The registration form for this workshop is available online. Please register by 10 August 2014.
The preparation work for this event is estimated at about 40 hours of study. Completion of this workshop is granted with 3 ECTS.
Costs for WTMC members:
– meals 10 EUR /day
Costs for everyone else:
– 600 EUR, including fee, accommodation and meals
There is a small number of stipends available for participants from outside of the Netherlands. You first need to register for the workshop. Once you hear whether you will be offered a place, you will receive information about how to apply for a stipend. Stipends cover fees, accommodation and meals. Participants are required to cover their own travel costs and incidental expenses.