Brown Bag: Amit Prasad
October 11 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
No, Critique Has Not Run Out of Steam: Post/De-Colonial Interventions and Science and Technology Studies
Amit Prasad, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the South Asian Studies Program at University of Missouri-Columbia. His research focuses on transnational and postcolonial history and sociology of science, technology, and medicine. He is the author of Imperial Technoscience: Transnational Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India (MIT Press).
In 2004, Bruno Latour, while polemically equating critique with conspiracy theories, had famously called for a renewal of ‘the critical mind,’ which cultivates ‘a stubbornly realist attitude’ and engages with ‘matters of concern, not matters of fact.’ The broader concern for Latour has been to present a different template for sociology – a sociology which rather than following social theorists (and thereby starting with social categories of class, gender, etc.), follows ‘the actors’ own ways and begin our travels by the traces left behind by their activity of forming and dismantling groups.’ But how does one follow actors and their traces, particularly if the actors are subaltern and colonized i.e. when their subject positions are erased or muted by structures of power? In such a scenario don’t we run the risk of ‘reassembling the social’ of, for example, the Portuguese voyages in the 15th and 16th centuries and still end up presenting the ‘great divide’ between the West and the non-West? In this presentation, drawing on my research on transnational features of technology and medicine, I argue that critique, in particular post/de-colonial critique, is necessary to situate and uncover the actions and voices of different actors and through them map the fast-changing global landscape of technoscience.