Member Profile

Hélène Mialet

Faculty Member, York University

Contributor, Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

Research Interests

About Hélène

I'm a professor at York University (STS department). I'm the author of Hawking Incorporated (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and L'Entreprise Créatrice, (Paris, Hermès, 2008).





Hawking Incorporated : Stephen Hawking and the Anthropology of the Knowing Subject

Hélène Mialet | University of Chicago Press (2012) | ISBN: 9780226522289

These days, the idea of the cyborg is less the stuff of science fiction and more a reality, as we are all, in one way or another, constantly connected, extended, wired, and dispersed in and through technology. One wonders where the individual, the person, the human, and the body are—or, alternatively, where they stop. These are the kinds of questions Hélène Mialet explores in this fascinating volume, as she focuses on a man who is permanently attached to assemblages of machines, devices, and collectivities of people: Stephen Hawking.

Drawing on an extensive and in-depth series of interviews with Hawking, his assistants and colleagues, physicists, engineers, writers, journalists, archivists, and artists, Mialet reconstructs the human, material, and machine-based networks that enable Hawking to live and work. She reveals how Hawking—who is often portrayed as the most singular, individual, rational, and bodiless of all—is in fact not only incorporated, materialized, and distributed in a complex nexus of machines and human beings like everyone else, but even more so. Each chapter focuses on a description of the functioning and coordination of different elements or media that create his presence, agency, identity, and competencies. Attentive to Hawking’s daily activities, including his lecturing and scientific writing, Mialet’s ethnographic analysis powerfully reassesses the notion of scientific genius and its associations with human singularity. This book will fascinate anyone interested in Stephen Hawking or an extraordinary life in science.

L'entreprise créatrice : Le rôle des récits, des objets et de l'acteur dans l'invention

Hélène Mialet | Lavoisier (2008) | ISBN: 9782746219410

Basé sur une étude ethnographique effectuée dans un laboratoire de recherche appliquée d'une multinationale française, l'Entreprise créatrice observe les mécanismes de l'invention dans un cadre institutionnel aux contraintes techniques, économiques et organisationnelles fortes. Invitant le lecteur à découvrir les lieux, les récits, les techniques, les pratiques, les savoir-faire et les dispositifs qui font l'invention, l'auteur analyse le rôle fondamental de l'émergence d'un acteur créatif dont la particularité veut que plus il se « distribue » et se collectivise, plus il se singularise et invente. Observant comment l'invention a plus à voir avec la médiation qu'avec l'illumination géniale, l'acte inventif est défini comme une façon particulière de lier les choses entre elles. S'adressant aux ingénieurs, industriels, managers, mais également aux étudiants et chercheurs en sciences humaines et sociales, cet ouvrage offre une série d'outils et de concepts susceptibles d'éclairer les processus à travers lesquels certains individus créateurs sont caractérisés in vivo ainsi que les ressources qu'ils utilisent et les pratiques qu'ils déploient pour inventer.

Contributions to Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

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

Stephen Hawking, Automation, and Politics

This year has been particularly charged with emotion. The stars that have lit up our Universe for a decade, or a century, have slipped away, one after another: Prince, Bowie, Princess Leia and her Mother. Stephen Hawking, who was doomed to an early death more than 50 years ago, celebrated his 75th birthday this past weekend. One never knows what life puts in our path… Hawking thinks he knows, though, and he is warning us. Hawking, indeed, seems to have become an Oracle, the Faust of the 21st Century. This is how, in 2015, he and Berlioz’s Faust were simultaneously reinvented under the demiurgic hand of the director Alvis Hermanis and the bemused eyes of its Parisian audience at the Opera Bastille in Paris. This was nearly one year ago. What’s next? The one, whose existence and career as a physicist has been made possible thanks to technology, as he likes to recall himself, is now warning us about the consequences of accelerating technological change. In so doing, he is making visible what has been the slogan of my field (Science and Technology Studies) from its inception: that the political, the social, the scientific, and the technical are always intertwined. This we should never forget. (more…)