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Aadita Chaudhury

Doctoral Student, Department of Science & Technology Studies, York University

Contributor, Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

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Contributions to Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

View all of Aadita's posts on Platypus: The CASTAC Blog.

The Sounds of STS: In conversation with Prof. Stefan Helmreich

I was first introduced to the work Stefan Helmreich, an anthropologist of science at MIT, as a first year PhD student. As an STS student, I’ve always been intrigued by different methodologies used within the field, and I was compelled by Prof. Helmreich’s ethnography of microbial oceanographers Alien Ocean and its affective, narrative quality and engagements with various traditions of thought. Our conversation below covers Professor Helmreich's  research, its relevance to the contemporary sociopolitical landscape, and the future of STS and anthropology of science, with a particular focus on the study of race, sound, biology and the arts. AC: You're a prolific anthropologist of the life sciences/biology, but you are also a sound studies scholar. How do those two domains of interest interact for you in your research, or have they always been intertwined for you? Do they influence your methodological choices? SH: I arrived into conversations on the social study of biology in the 1990s, when much of it was dedicated to the work of critiquing sociobiology and its genres of genetic determinism. People like Dorothy Nelkin, Sarah Franklin, Evelyn Fox Keller, Donna Haraway, Troy Duster, Valerie Hartouni, and Richard Doyle were also starting to call attention to the strangely disembodied approach to “life" that was coming to characterize much early genome-age bioscience. My first book, Silicon Second Nature, was very much in those conversations — seeking to query reductivist information theoretic visions of evolution. A range of work, primarily from feminist and antiracist scholars, sited in history, philosophy, (more...)