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Questions about Feminist Science Studies

Hilary_Brashear's picture

Upon reflecting on the field of feminist science studies I began to think about the aim or goal of developing this new field. Would this field investigate and try to determine how much of who we are depends on social factors and how much on biological factors? Will it try to understand the complexities of the body and biology with a greater recognition to the social factors that affect scientific interpretation? Subramaniam and Barad are both asking for a new way to structure how we generate knowledge, how we learn and think which could potentially lead to changes in how we educate. In addition to changing the education system I began to wonder if/how the research from this field could be used politically? If we think about current “hot” topics of debate, abortion, gay marriage etc, scientific studies/ questions are constantly used to defend each side of the debate. In these cases science is often used to represent the “truth.” Science is a field of facts and facts can’t be argued with (or can they?) By mixing scientific and humanistic literature will that change public debates?

 Will the goal of feminist science studies also be to try to find a “truth” about humans and human society? Barad (and many other authors that we have read) would say no, there is no one truth about humanity. Barad wants us to embrace uncertainty but perhaps that is a sort of truth. Realizing how complicated the world is and trying to explain and embrace those complications is perhaps the truth that Barad and others what us to see.

While I do not see myself becoming a “feminist science studiest” I would eagerly read whatever literature and research produced by the field. What specifically that work will be has yet to be determined.    

 

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fawei's picture

Yes, I can see that

Yes, I can see that Subramaniam and Barad are in the 'blur boundaries' camp with a lot of the other writers we have looked at. There seem to be a lot of advantages to mixed field studies that are posssible now that some have become quite advanced. General fields like science and feminism have maybe become less well defined as they grow broader, but that's something important for initiating interdisciplinary activity.

I'm not sure I can look at feminist science studies as being entirely beneficial though. What you said about new research for political topics makes me suspicious... I think it was Subramaniam who said science is inherently political to begin with. Intentionally adding even more humanties aspects could wind up creating even more broadly beneficial uses for scientific discoveries, or the critique from so many sources could slow things/bring up undesirable results. If feminist science studies becomes more widely recognized, it's likely that opposing studies will follow... not necessarily bad for dialogue but it's also not just that there are so many things opposing feminism, but there are also different kinds of feminism. For example, Haraway in the essay we read earlier on pits socialist feminism against radical feminism.

It's true that if all the 'science studies' wind up becoming highly developed, uses for discoveries or what is being researched can be assessed better. It's also probably true that absolute 'truths' will never be established again, and everything will exist as a variety of possibly conflicting viewpoints all gathered in one large field of study with too many aspects to be an expert in all of. It's like escaping one harmful system and entering another. This is a pretty negative assumption though...

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