Recent Posts

How Do You Prefer Your Eggs?

As a [Turkish] woman in my early thirties, I have realized that I am becoming more and more “exposed” to thoughts, conversations, advice and even warnings concerning reproduction and having a child. Conducting my dissertation fieldwork in IVF clinics definitely contributes to this exposure. Somehow, my interviews and/or conversations with women undergoing IVF to have a child in their thirties or forties often take the form of women cautiously advising me (as a 32-year-old, unmarried, doctoral student – a.k.a., a “career woman”) to get married and have a child before it’s too late. In a way, the women’s admonishment implies, […]

Airline seating as symbol and metaphor of inequality

Airline seating as symbol and metaphor of inequality

Airline interiors are clearly interesting spaces to think about technology and politics. Sociologist Elizabeth Popp Berman has a nice blog-post on orgtheory where she computes Gini indexes for the interior of different aircraft, based on the space they allocate to different classes of passengers (first, business, economy). Speaking of transatlantic flights, she comments: Unsurprisingly, though, these air-beds take up even more space than a nice comfy first class seat. So if we look again at how the space is distributed, we now have 21% of the people using about 40% of the plane, 27% using another 20%, and the final […]

+STS-Meeting: Spatial STS

+STS-Meeting: Spatial STS

Cambridge (MA), October 22nd, 2014. What is the place of space in Science & Technology Studies (STS)? This was the key question that the cross-STS Working Group discussed in its October 2014 meeting, suggesting that space emerges as an increasingly important and explicitly analyzed category. Robin Scheffler, who is currently a visiting scholar at the Cantabrigian American Academy of Arts and Sciences and will join MIT’s Program in STS next year, led the discussion. Building on a pre-circulated reading (Finnegan 2008), he provided a sketch of the place of space in seminal STS works from the past 30 years to […]

Animals, Health and War: Conference Notes

Animals, Health and War: Conference Notes

Lately I attended the 41st Congress of the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine. The conference’s themes of “One Health” and “Animals in War,” draw to London speakers from 28 countries. The variety helped to spice up the standard Eurocentric bias these conferences often suffer from. And so, after a presentation on vaccines in Britain, one Turkish veterinarian said he would like to highlight the role of Ottoman practices of inoculation imported to England by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The peculiar combination between trained historians who are fascinated by veterinary and veterinarians who are captivated by history diversified […]

Cross-STS Launched—- Probing the Genealogies

Cross-STS Launched—- Probing the Genealogies

The new working group at HASTS, Cross-STS, had a great start last week, 9/24/2014, with over twenty people from varied disciplinary backgrounds like Anthropology, Architecture, Medicine, STS and Public Policy joining us. “STS” was dissected and reconfigured on several planes in this first meeting. Under the broad umbrella theme of “crossing” disciplinary, regional, transnational boundaries to discuss the emergent forms of STS, the meeting focused on the most recent 4S (Society of Social Studies of Science) conference held at Buenos Aires in August 2014, as well as, STS syllabi from schools across three different continents: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en […]

The Shanghai Sanatorium

The Shanghai Sanatorium

In 1949, my grandmother started working as a nurse at the largest sanatorium in Shanghai.  It had been founded by French Jesuit missionaries who were forced to abandon the city once the Republic of China dissolved.  My grandma had entered along with twenty other newly trained nurses to work with four doctors and care for eight hundred patients.  Yes, four doctors for eight hundred patients. Below is an excerpt of an interview I had with my grandma about her early years at the sanatorium. GM: When we first started working at the hospital, there were four types of patients.  But before the Liberation, they were all bound and tied up.  So, […]

Science vs. Politics: A pragmatic argument for why this distinction doesn’t work

Science vs. Politics: A pragmatic argument for why this distinction doesn’t work

Recently, I talked to a doctor and public health professional about the relationship between science and policy; he told me, in a vivid metaphor, of how things work, and should work, in the regulatory process. The science produces the facts, which then get funneled through our values through the process of politics.  What comes out of this machine, he said, are policies. It was quite a beguiling vision, but as an STS person, I couldn’t help asking: did he really believe in it? Yes, he said.  I pressed on.  How, I asked, would he explain the controversy over global warming? […]

Engineering Taste: IBM’s Chef Watson and Technologies of Heteromation

Engineering Taste: IBM’s Chef Watson and Technologies of Heteromation

In the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, Chef Ferran Adria can be seen painstakingly testing new flavors and recipes for the now-shuttered El Bulli restaurant. The menu theme is “water, ” and over the course of weeks, even months, single dishes are perfected with a new flavor addition, a sprinkling of green matcha powder here or an injection of mint-flavored sugar there. The recipes are always distinguished by Adria’s unique flair for new gastronomic devices and technologies. In the film we can see that Chef Adria’s process is a craft combing tacit taste and exacting discipline not uncommon among […]

Light Fieldwork: Lytro Cameras, Open Research & the Partial

Light Fieldwork: Lytro Cameras, Open Research & the Partial

Lytro markets the images from its light field cameras as “living pictures.” This makes me think of the magical portraits from Harry Potter, their subjects managing door security and popping from frame to frame. (Not the photographs. Harry Potter photographs are pretty much anigifs.) “Living picture” is certainly evocative marketspeak, but it obscures what a fascinating methodological tool light field images can be—and the fresh questions about openness and participation in research such cameras provoke. The following images were taken in Japan during the summer of 2013 with a first generation Lytro camera. They’re products of my first explorations with […]

Dissertation Review: Mathematical Professionalization in Mid-Century America

Dissertation Review: Mathematical Professionalization in Mid-Century America

Historical studies on scientists in the Cold War university have surged in recent years. Perhaps more significantly, research on this topic has diversified. Recently described by Steven Shapin in one instance, “it was immediately understood that it was the natural scientists and engineers who had departed the Ivory Tower en masse, leaving the humanities and most of the human sciences behind” during the Cold War. The options of federal contracts and grants implied an alternative to university support to which scientists could turn. But whereas many twentieth-century treatments were content to leave conclusions at that, more recent scholars—such as David […]