The humanities and social sciences today struggle to come to terms with the explosion of knowledge in increasingly complex, diverse and networked societies. Which forms of knowledge work best for managing, challenging or engaging with rapid social change? Do new kinds of information play an increasing role in economic and social management? Do these changes raise questions about what ‘knowledge’ is, or is to become? What are the new rules for engagement between academic and other knowledge practices and institutions?
This conference will bring together theorists and practitioners from a range of backgrounds and knowledge institutions to debate these questions in relation to the following themes:
Shifting knowledge maps: Discipline boundaries are increasingly permeable within the humanities and social sciences and across these and the natural and physical sciences. Yet it often proves difficult to connect these new knowledge maps both within academia and across sectors (university/government; public/private; NGO/university/government, etc.). Knowledge engagement is more problematic, just as it is becoming more important and desirable. How are these problems best addressed?
Knowledge and globalisation: Processes of globalisation undermine the relevance of purely national knowledge frameworks, while the hegemony of Western knowledge systems is challenged on many fronts: the increasing influence of Asia; the resurgent interest in indigenous and community knowledges; and the competing perspectives of multiple modernities. How can the relations between these multiple knowledge practices best be engaged with?
A (Post)humanities? The nature/culture dualism is under challenge from a diverse range of knowledges (ecological, post-rational, feminist, animal studies, etc). These interventions engage the global predicament presented by climate change, blurring the boundaries between natural and social environments, while medical and nano technologies radically restructure our sense of the boundaries and constituents of personhood. How can we now best understand our entanglements with the more-than-human?
Digital knowledge practices: New electronic and digital technologies are rapidly changing the mechanisms and speeds of knowledge flows with profound consequences for intellectual property and the practices of knowledge institutions, while also enabling new ways of knowing that significantly challenge older relations of knowledge production. How can our practices respond to these new knowledge possibilities?
Knowledge and governance: New kinds of data – quantitative and qualitative – and methods and techniques of visualisation play an increasingly important role in economic and social management, while science/arts divisions are undermined by new kinds of art/science practice. Knowledge institutions and technologies play new roles in processes of social and cultural change; e.g. archives, museums, science centres, statistical and other data banks. In what ways do these new knowledge practices actively intervene and shape social life?
Dawn Casey, Director, Powerhouse Museum; Chair, Indigenous Business Australia.
Museums, Conflicting Cultures and the Politics of Knowing.
Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago.
The Human after Climate Change.
Penny Harvey, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester; a Director in the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change.
Surface Dramas, Knowledge Gaps and Scalar Shifts: Infrastructural Engineering in Sacred Spaces.
Bruno Latour, Scientific Director, Professor and Vice President for Research, Sciences-Po.
Social Theory, Tarde, and the Web [via videolink].
Nikolas Rose, James Martin White Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics; Director, BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society.
The Human Sciences in the Century of Biology.