Constructivist Paradoxes Part 2: Latin American STS, between Centers and Peripheries
There is a certain ‘failure’ in what we could call the modern development of the STS field over the past decade, i.e. a large number of studies—particularly empirical—that were deployed from the 1970s onwards. Indeed, one of their original and crucial objectives was to emphasize the local, situated, contingent character of the processes of production and negotiation of knowledge. However, these studies mostly concentrate on one part of the world, i.e. the most developed countries, precisely where modern science, commonly referred to as “Western Science,” developed. This limitation—surely intuitive or “natural”—has several consequences analyzed in this article. In summary, these limitations can be analyzed in terms of the objects of research (the various forms of knowledge) but also in terms of the theories and methods used to account for them. The aim is to discuss the construction of a double (or even triple) peripheral situation, which calls into question the old principles of symmetry and impartiality (Bloor 1976; Collins 1981): on the one hand, the peripheral character of the objects analyzed (i.e. science and scientific development outside Euro-America) and, in parallel, the peripheral situation of the communities of specialists who dedicate themselves to studying them. Connected to this, an additional question emerges: What are the theoretical frameworks and methodologies best suited to account for these objects in their respective contexts? Is it suitable to simply apply to these objects of study the same theoretical frameworks and methods commonly used to analyze hegemonic science? And last but not least, how to approach the (scientific, cultural, political) relationships between different contexts in a highly globalized world? This is the second of two parts: while in the first one I discuss the “failures” of the hegemonic paradigm in STS and its consequences in relation to non-hegemonic contexts, in this second part I focus on the problems raised by post-colonial approaches, on the “peripheral techno-science” as an object for STS scholars and, as a specific case, the development of STS research in Latin America and the dynamics of its specific agendas.
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