Political Materials: Excavation, Transformation, Incorporation
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 16:00 - 18:00Hanson Room, Humanities Bridgeford Street Building, Manchester University
'Flood Apprentices: An Exercise in Making Things Public',
Sarah Whatmore, University of Oxford
Taking a lead from Stengers’ experimental constructivism, this paper reports on the invention of a research apparatus - the ‘Competency Group’ (CG) - that aims to put things capable of forcing thought and attachment to work in the exercise of new knowledge polities. It draws on the work of one such Group based in Pickering, a town in the catchment of Ryedale with long experience of flooding. This Group involved social and natural scientists working collaboratively with people affected by flooding over a twelve month period, to interrogate the science that informs local flood management and intervene in the public controversy to which it had given rise. The paper focuses on the ways in which various artefacts that mediated our collective flood-apprenticeship in Ryedale, were recharged as publicity devices through which the working practices and knowledge claims of what became the Ryedale Flood Research Group gathered political force in the wake of the Group’s work.
About Sarah Whatmore:
Sarah Whatmore studied Geography, and Planning at University College London and worked for a spell in policy research at the Greater London Council. She is currently Professor of Environment and Public Policy at the University of Oxford. Her research addresses the interface between cultural geography, political theory and science and technology studies. She is the author of Hybrid Geographies (Sage, 2002) and joint editor of Political matter: technoscience, democracy and public life (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and Using Social Theory: thinking through research (Sage, 2003 and Sage Research Methods Online, 2010). Her current research is on environmental knowledge controversies and the science and politics of flood risk.
The seminar series is co-funded by the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester and the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change