‘Getting Underneath the Fact: natural categories & biological facts as historical and emergent objects’

Date: 28 August – 29 August 2006

To be held at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Lancaster University.

Confirmed speakers: Geoff Bowker (University of Santa Clara); Simon Cohn (Goldsmiths); Maureen McNeil (Lancaster University); Rosemary Robbins (University of Melbourne); Leigh Starr (University of Santa Clara); Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University); David Turnbull (Deakin University).

We hope you’ll be able to come. See the abstract and the URL below for the – draft programme – full abstract of the conference – registration form

IMPORTANT: PLEASE RETURN YOUR REGISTRATION FORM BY 7TH JULY 2006 to: Ruth Love, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, Tel – 44 (0) 1524 593148. E-mail: [email protected].

ABSTRACT The initial project of science studies, it seems, is becoming ever more compromised by demands for science studies scholars to learn the language and the nominations of science before they can critique. This is highlighted by the recent Report on Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Summer School at St Annes College, Oxford on the 26-29 Sep 2005. The report suggests that while the debate between scientists and social scientists and other humanities scholars may be fruitful the latter are:

‘intimidated by the complexity of the science,……This suggests a training need: To find ways to familiarise social scientists and humanities researchers with neuroscience, and to equip them to liase with neuroscientists in a competent manner.’

This conference will be an opportunity to explore how STS research and the debates in which we engage are compliant with this vision, relying upon assumed foundations of knowledge. In the passage above the ontological assumptions of the neuroscientist may be read as fact, hence not open for debate or contestation. The task for the social science/humanities researcher becomes, it seems, someone who adds a bit of construction after the fact. This conference will provide a forum to think about assumed foundations in knowledge, their performative nature, and the way in which debates are framed around biological and natural facts. These issues will be explored in different research domains including genetics, brain sciences, classifications and number systems.

Draft programme, full conference abstract and registration form can be found at: