STS Speaker. Alternative Facts and States of Fear: Reality in the Age of Climate Fictions

Joanna Radin, Yale University

Prof. Radin Prof. Radin
This talk is concerned with the nature of reality in an age of “alternative facts.” It is a case study situated in the realm of mass market fiction that seeks to examine how postmodern techniques so often associated with STS have been deployed to undermine claims to scientific authority. Specifically, I look to the work of Harvard MD-turned-author, Michael Crichton, and his 2004 novel, State of Fear. What can Crichton’s particular form of cultural production teach us not only about specific scientific controversies, but an era now referred to as post-truth and an American president whose dominant political motives are a tangle of profit-making and fear-mongering? My approach does not attempt to purify fact from fiction or provide clarity amidst what Guy Debord called the “society of the spectacle,” in which representation is preferable to reality, truth is considered profane, and only illusion is sacred. Rather, I will discuss practices and techniques that have contributed to a reinvention of reality and argue that a rigorously feminist STS provides invaluable resources for navigating the present.

Biosketch: Joanna Radin is associate professor of History of Medicine at Yale where she is also affiliated with the Departments of History and of Anthropology as well as the programs in American Studies; Ethnicity, Race & Migration; and Religion & Modernity. Her research examines speculative projects of the post-war life and human sciences. She has particular interests in feminist, queer, and indigenous STS and science fiction. She is the author of Life on Ice: A History of New Uses for Cold Blood (Chicago 2017), a history of the low-temperature biobank and co-editor, with Emma Kowal, of Cyropolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World (MIT 2017), which considers the technics and ethics of freezing across the life and environmental sciences.
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When and Where

Map Tisch Hall - 1014

October 2018

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4:00pm - 5:30pm

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