I am trying organize a session for the 4S Annual Meetings in Atlanta (October 16-19, 2003) on the topic described below and invite anyone interested in participating to send me a 300 word abstract by April 30.
Science and Movements for Precaution From smog to greenhouse gases, phosphates to persistent organic pollutants, salmonella to genetically modified organisms, cars to space shuttles, and beyond, public actors have been fighting for “precaution” for many decades in many contexts. To take “precaution” means to stay on the side of safety in situations of uncertainty. ” Precaution” and “the precautionary principle” also are objects produced in struggles for safety and put to work in building those movements. Corporations employ industrial processes and technologies and market products without addressing many of their human and ecological hazards. Diverse communities and individuals try to re-shape these world-changing creations to prevent harm, often engaging in Herculean, long-term battles with resistant corporations on the terrain of government regulatory agencies and the courts. Where are we in the many and various movements for precaution? How did we get here? This panel gathers historians, social scientists, and other scholars of movements for precaution addressing health, safety, or ecological issues. The panel invites work from different geographical areas and time periods. Starting points for papers might include: What laws and regulations have been passed to deal with the risks of particular industrial processes, technologies, and products? Within what institutions and power relations? Do the laws and regulations do the job they were intended to do? Why or why not? Where are the pivotal points and contingent closures in battles for precaution? Which strategies have served movements for precaution well and which have failed? How was science relevant and how was it deployed, ignored, hidden, or otherwise used in regulation and standard making? What counted as science, and for whom? What groups or entities have participated as “the public”? With what effect? How well have governments and concerned members of the public fared in regulating with precaution?
Karen Hoffman History of Consciousness Board University of California, Santa Cruz [email protected] fax: 510-642-4607