Speaking for Nature: Hobbes, Latour, and the Democratic Representation of Nonhumans (2017-05-10)
Environmental theorists have often considered how best to represent nature's interests. This essay develops an approach to the democratic representation of nonhuman nature by examining the relation between Bruno Latour’s account of representation and that of Thomas Hobbes. Both Hobbes and Latour develop a constructivist theory of representation as an ongoing process that partly constitutes what it represents. In this respect, Latour’s account complements the “constructivist turn” in recent democratic theory, and it suggests a promising avenue for representing nonhumans. However, Latour also follows Hobbes in viewing representation as a matter of unifying and replacing the represented. This aspect of Latour’s approach obscures certain key features of representative democracy in pluralist societies. The last part of the essay takes up an aspect of Hobbes’s theory neglected by Latour, the notion of “representation by fiction,” which suggests a way of representing nonhumans that offers more support for representative democracy than other approaches
Diplomacy in Action: Latourian Politics and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2017-05-10)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reviews scientific literature on climate change in an attempt to make scientific knowledge about climate change accessible to a wide audience that includes policymakers. Documents produced by the IPCC are subject to negotiations in plenary sessions, which can be frustrating for the scientists and government delegations involved, who all have stakes in getting their respective interests met. This paper draws on the work of Bruno Latour in order to formulate a so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach to knowledge assessment in global climate governance. Such an approach, we argue, helps to make climate governance more inclusive by helping to identify values of parties involved with the IPCC plenaries, and allowing those parties to recognize their mutual interests and perspectives on climate change. Drawing on observations during IPCC plenaries, this paper argues that a Latourian form of diplomacy can lead to more inclusive negotiations in climate governance
Scientific Performance Assessments Through a Gender Lens (2017-05-10)
The focus on excellence and quality assurance in the academy has spawned a significant increase in the use of bibliometric measures in performance assessments of individual researchers. This article investigates the organizational consequences of this development through a gender lens. Based on a qualitative case study of evaluation and selection practices at a Danish university, a number of potential gender biases related to the use of bibliometric performance measures are identified. By taking as default the research preferences, approaches and career paths of a succesful group of predominantly male scholars, evaluators using bibliometrics risk disadvantaging candidates diverging from the norm with implications for gender stratification. Despite these potential biases, bibliometric measures come to function as technologies supporting a managerial narrative of the gender-blind organization. They adhere to the prevailing ethos of the academic meritocracy by standardizing the criteria for organizational advancement and ensuring transparency and accountability in the selection process. While bibliometric tools in this sense may lead to the recruitment of scientists with a strong CV and track record, they may at the same time prevent many talented researchers diverging from the norm from being recognized and succeed as academics.
Bioinformatics imaginaries in the engine-room of genomic health policy (2017-05-10)
Bioinformatics comprises a diffuse field of technologies, knowledges, databases and software for medical and pharmaceutical innovation. It is becoming a major target of policymaking for global health goals, but experiences conflicts including over ownership and access; national versus commercial agendas; disease targeting; genomic versus clinical data. The paper draws on the political economy of states, and the performativity of policy and ‘sociotechnical imaginaries’ to identify diverging framings and imaginaries in a comparison of India and the UK. It argues that bioinformatics policies are diversified in India and increasingly co-ordinated in the UK; integration of clinical with genomic data is more prominent in the UK and more geared to hegemonic ‘platform’ technologies; India has more nation-focused, societal policy in disease strategies, and notable heterogeneity in the social production of genomic knowledge. The paper develops STS concepts by linking them to political state theory, highlighting social heterogeneity in technoscientific innovation.