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Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

New Books in Science, Technology, and Society Marshall Poe

    • Samhällsvetenskap

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

    Ray Ison, "Systems Practice: How to Act In Situations of Uncertainty and Complexity in a Climate-Change World" (Springer, 2017)

    Ray Ison, "Systems Practice: How to Act In Situations of Uncertainty and Complexity in a Climate-Change World" (Springer, 2017)

    While various systems theories have received rigorous treatments across the literature of the field, reliable and robust advice for systems practice can be somewhat harder to come by. Ray Ison has done much to remedy this state of affairs through his deeply theoretically grounded yet eminently practical book: Systems Practice: How to Act In Situations of Uncertainty and Complexity in a Climate-Change World which was reprinted by Springer in 2017. 
    After first drawing a distinction between metaphors and the much less well-known notion of isophors, Ison builds a conception of the systems practitioners work around his central isophor of The Juggler. For Ison, the systems practitioner must keep four essential balls in the air. These are (1) the B-ball which concerns the attributes of Being a practitioner with a particular tradition of understanding; (2) the E-ball which concerns the characteristics ascribed to the ‘real-world’ situation that the juggler is Engaging with; (3) the C-ball which concerns the act of contextualising a particular approach to a new situation, and; (4) the M-ball which is about how the practitioner is Managing their overall performance in a situation. Interspersed with extensive excerpts from a wide array of systems practitioners such as Donella Meadows, Russ Ackoff and beyond, Ison blends cybernetics and systems in a rare and deft manner, and his thoughtful book, underwritten by years of fieldwork, makes a significant contribution to the systems literature by asking, in his own words, “What do we do when we do what we do?” The answers are as illuminating as the lively conversation we had about this book.
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    • 1 tim. 5 min
    Xiaowei Wang, "Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside" (FSG Originals, 2020)

    Xiaowei Wang, "Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside" (FSG Originals, 2020)

    Most of our discussions about how “technology will change the world” focus on the global cities that drive the world economy. Even when we talk about China, we focus on its major cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. 
    Xiaowei Wang corrects this metronormativity in their recent book Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside (FSG Originals: 2020), which explores how rural China is not just adapting the technology used around the world, but innovating on it.  
    In this interview, we talk about the frontiers of technology that are being charted in rural China, and why China’s countryside may be the best place to understand how technology, capitalism and society will intersect in the coming years — often in not altogether positive ways. We also talk about some of the more recent developments in how Chinese technology is treated in the United States, with reference to their recent articles: "WeChat Has Both Connected Families and Torn Them Apart" in Slate and "How the Theatrics of Banning TikTok Enables Repression at Home" in The Nation.
    Xiaowei Wang is the creative director at Logic Magazine, whose work encompasses community-based and public art projects, data visualization, technology, ecology, and education. Their projects have been featured in The New York Times, the BBC, CNN, VICE, and elsewhere. You can follow them on Twitter at @xrw.
    You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Blockchain Chicken Farm. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
    Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
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    • 36 min
    Amalia Leguizamón, "Seeds of Power: Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Soybeans in Argentina" (Duke UP, 2020)

    Amalia Leguizamón, "Seeds of Power: Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Soybeans in Argentina" (Duke UP, 2020)

    In 1996 Argentina adopted genetically modified (GM) soybeans as a central part of its national development strategy. Today, Argentina is the third largest global grower and exporter of GM crops. Its soybeans—which have been modified to tolerate being sprayed with herbicides—now cover half of the country's arable land and represent a third of its total exports. While soy has brought about modernization and economic growth, it has also created tremendous social and ecological harm: rural displacement, concentration of landownership, food insecurity, deforestation, violence, and the negative health effects of toxic agrochemical exposure.
    In Seeds of Power: Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Soybeans in Argentina (Duke UP, 2020), Amalia Leguizamón explores why Argentines largely support GM soy despite the widespread damage it creates. She reveals how agribusiness, the state, and their allies in the media and sciences deploy narratives of economic redistribution, scientific expertise, and national identity as a way to elicit compliance among the country’s most vulnerable rural residents. In this way, Leguizamón demonstrates that GM soy operates as a tool of power to obtain consent, to legitimate injustice, and to quell potential dissent in the face of environmental and social violence.
    Stentor Danielson is an associate professor in the Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment at Slippery Rock University.
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    • 1 tim. 1 min.
    Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    “What are chromosomes? And what does it mean to treat them as visual objects?” asks Soraya de Chadarevian in her new book, Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Considering this question as she follows the history of microscope-based practices in chromosomal research across a variety of contexts—from the medical clinic to the study of human variation—de Chadarevian offers readers a new history of postwar human genetics. This approach enables her to argue that cytogenetics was far from just “old fashioned biology that was eventually superseded by molecular approaches” and to show the continuities and interdependencies between different methods for studying our DNA.
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    • 52 min
    Dale Kedwards, "The Mappae Mundi of Medieval Iceland" (D. S. Brewer, 2020)

    Dale Kedwards, "The Mappae Mundi of Medieval Iceland" (D. S. Brewer, 2020)

    The Icelandic mappae mundi were a series of maps produced in the late medieval period (c. 1225 - c. 1400) that bore witness to fundamental changes in the landscape of vernacular literary culture, scientific thinking and regional geopolitics.
    In The Mappae Mundi of Medieval Iceland (D.S. Brewer, 2020), Dale Kedwards explores the plethora of meanings that medieval Icelandic mapmakers invested into their works, from political statements about national origin, to diagrammatic expressions of cosmological theories. The mappae mundi provided a medium for medieval Icelanders to imagine their place in relation to the wider world, and even the physical universe.
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    • 1 tim. 6 min
    Rosamond Rhodes, "The Trusted Doctor: Medical Ethics and Professionalism" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Rosamond Rhodes, "The Trusted Doctor: Medical Ethics and Professionalism" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Common morality has been the touchstone of medical ethics since the publication of Beauchamp and Childress's Principles of Biomedical Ethics in 1979. Rosamond Rhodes challenges this dominant view by presenting an original and novel account of the ethics of medicine, one deeply rooted in the actual experience of medical professionals. She argues that common morality accounts of medical ethics are unsuitable for the profession, and inadequate for responding to the particular issues that arise in medical practice. Instead, Rhodes argues that medicine's distinctive ethics should be explained in terms of the trust that society allows to the profession. Trust is the core and starting point of Rhodes' moral framework, which states that the most basic duty of doctors is to "seek trust and be trustworthy."
    In The Trusted Doctor: Medical Ethics and Professionalism (Oxford UP, 2020), Rhodes explicates the sixteen specific duties that doctors take on when they join the profession, and demonstrates how her view of these duties is largely consistent with the codes of medical ethics of medical societies around the world. She then explains why it is critical for physicians to develop the attitudes or "doctorly" virtues that comprise the character of trustworthy doctors and buttress physicians' efforts to fulfill their professional obligations. Her book's presentation of physicians' duties and the elements that comprise a doctorly character, together add up to a cohesive and comprehensive description of what medical professionalism really entails. Rhodes's analysis provides a clear understanding of medical professionalism as well as a guide for doctors navigating the ethically challenging situations that arise in clinical practice.
    Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
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    • 50 min

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