The 'social' and the 'public': Considerations on STS practice in a nanotechnology laboratory

Ana Viseu (Universidade de York)

December 17, 2010, 14h30

Seminar Room (2nd Floor), CES-Coimbra


Contemporary scientific policies favour the need to integrate natural and social sciences as a way of covering the ‘public’ and, thus, creating responsible ways of making science.  This is particularly true in the case of nanotechnology.  But how has this integration been functioning in practice?Using my own experience as a social scientist in a North-American Nanofabrication Centre, I will examine how the ‘social’ is integrated in the laboratory.  I will emphasize mainly two subjects:The ways how the ‘public’ and the ‘social’ have become synonyms, and how this affects the expectations related to the potential contribution from social sciences.


Biographic Note

Ana Viseu is an Assistant Professor of Communication & Culture at York University, Canada, where she is also affiliated with the Science and Technology Studies Program.  She is interested in the interactions of humans and emergent technologies and how these interactions are reifying and reformulating notions of identity, embodiment, agency and privacy.  In her research examines these issues through an analysis of the practices of development and use of emergent (and contested) technologies, from both theoretical and material perspectives.  She specializes in the critical examination of technologies—such as nanotechnology, wearable computing and robotics—that posit the body as the interface between biology and information.  Prof. Viseu has published in a number of venues, including the journals of Ethics & Information Technology, and Information, Communication and Society. She is currently working on two forthcoming publications on wearable computing and nanotechnology to be submitted to NanoEthics and Social Studies of Science.