Monthly Archives: November 2013

First reactions to The Postcolonial STS Reader

I love walking through the stacks of the library, seeing what is new, picking up books that look interesting.  Today was another one of those days where I go to the library to pick up 3 books and leave with 10.

One of the books I now weighing down my backpack is  The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Readeredited by Sandra Harding. On the subway home I started thumbing through and I could barely contain my excitement. Right from the introduction Harding’s arguments get right to the heart of the matter. Check it out:

No Women, So No Gender Issues?
The conquistadors, explorers, missionaries, merchants, indigenous rulers, scientists, historians, anthropologists and their informants, and theorists of modernity and development, as well as the leading scholars who contribute to postcolonial science and technology studies – these have been mostly men. Consequently some scholars seem to think there is little reason to raise gender issues in addressing topics in this field. Many assume that gender issues are relevant only if women are in sight, or perhaps even only if one is actually studying women.  Yet the assumption that gender refers exclusively to women is false. It undermines the reliability as well as the legitimacy of accounts guided by it. In contrast, recent studies have found ways to ask how the very absence of women has influenced the selection of scientific problems, the methods of research and the regulatory ideas that guide them, what count as scientific communities, conceptions of natural processes, the interpretation of data, the results of research, and the dissemination of scientific applications and technologies, as well as least some prevailing understandings of nature’s order. In societies organized by male-supremacist gender hierarchies, men, their ideas and practices, cannot be unique models of the human. They can only mark historically specific masculine examples of the human. (Harding, 2011, p. 11)

SO GOOD!  Fellow Yorkies, please don’t recall this book quite yet. I can tell it is going to be my BFF for a while and you really don’t want to get into a hold war with me 😉