Seminar by Claire Waterton, Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University

Technologies in Practice Seminar

Tuesday 20 September

16.00 – 17.30

Room 2A18

Purity and Danger: Re-working and re-framing a polluted lake through an STS-informed ‘New Collective’

This paper describes research that has emerged from nearly a decade of grassroots activity in a small catchment in the North West of England aimed at improving problems of lake eutrophication.

A local forum currently being developed by the local community, members of some relevant institutions, and  natural and social scientists was conceived as a ‘new collective‘ (Latour 2004), supporting at the same time what Callon and Rabeharisoa (2007) call ‘research in the wild‘. This forum, called by its members the ‘Loweswater Care Project’, is made up of local residents, businesses, farmers, ecologists, sociologists, agronomists, environmental agencies and other interested parties. In the paper I will describe it as a social/research technology through which representations of the natural and the social, and their interrelationships in relation to water quality in the lake, can be thickened up and can proliferate, forming the beginnings of future actions.

The research is partly facilitating this new collective, partly examining its unfolding dynamics, partly brokering relationships between different actors, partly aiming to create a forum in which all form of knowledge and expertise are encouraged as valid, without stripping the acutely felt politics of local pollution from debate. The paper highlights the way that the Loweswater Care Project has emerged as a body acutely conscious of the many strong and valid critiques of participation’ in areas of public policy. The project has tried to build upon and even move beyond these critiques. In doing so, it has opened out some new questions and challenges concerning the nature of collective action for the improvement of socio-natural lives.

All are welcome.

Please download and circulate the event poster.

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