Tag Archives: Science

Techno-Scientific Numbers as fields of mobilization

By Andrea Ballestero

In 2012, Costa Rican social movements halted a Canadian corporation from going forward, with the approval of the government, to construct the first open pit gold mine in the country. Also in 2012, despite their intense mobilization, social movements failed to persuade Congress to pass a constitutional reform to declare water access a human right. Stopping a giant transnational mining corporation backed by the government’s neoliberal policies proved easier than creating consensus amongst congress representatives to promote citizen involvement and reiterate the public nature of water. In both instances, techno-scientific knowledge was at the core of their mobilization. Geological maps, hydrological flows, biodiversity extinction rates and indices, economic calculations of financial benefits—all of them ultimately circulating in the form of numerical figures—shaped the political struggles of the activists and their radically different outcomes. In this short essay I want to draw our attention in two directions. First, towards the question of “who” are the participants in the social movements that we study. And, second, to the issue of the peculiar and changing social values of numbers, the ultimate tokens of techno-scientific knowledge.   Continue reading

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Mobilizing Epistemic Conflict: Creationists and a Museum

By Kathleen Oberlin

Despite much activity within and around the institution of science, for scholars and activists alike a central question continues to linger: what else or who else do science-oriented movements target…and, increasingly, how should they go about doing it? I’ll draw from one familiar case, creationism, to speak to contemporary efforts to provoke social change in a way that surprised many.

With a well-known history dating back to the infamous Scopes Trial of 1925, the Creationist social movement draws upon both religion and science as sources of authority. While religion and science may not permanently or inherently be at odds with one another, at least since the late 19th century in the United States, the boundaries between the two have been fiercely contested. Continue reading

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Ignore at Your Own Peril

The creationist movement scored another victory this month but it did not happen in Tennessee, Kansas, or Texas. No, this victory occurred in South Korea.

The country’s Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology adopted new textbook standards which require the removal of examples of evolution from the nation’s science books. This policy was the result of a creationist campaign waged by the Society for Textbook Revision, a group affiliated with the Korea Association for Creation Science. While not formally removing evolution from the curriculum, deleting it from the nation’s textbooks goes a long way in diminishing and marginalizing the importance of evolution as a foundation of modern biology. It also becomes that much easier for teachers to ignore and avoid the controversial topic altogether. Continue reading

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