Is There A New Development? The promise and politics of provincializing experts, models, and knowledge in the 21st century.

Friday - Saturday
5 Apr - 6 Apr 2013

Blum Hall B100

Event Type

Summary of the Event

The “Is There A New Development?” spring symposium brought together scholars from both the STS and the development studies communities and provided a forum in which some of the most contemporary ideas of ‘development’ and expertise could be debated.  Symposium participants came together from the broader Bay Area, within the United States, and from across multiple continents.  The two day event held eight sessions and approximately twenty individual paper presentations and a special session dedicated to a broader discussion.  Emerging themes ranged from ironic perceptions of local knowledge or the ‘dialectic of confirmation and critique’ that is embodied in all; the usefulness of thinking of southern- versus northern-led development projects; social science researchers as experts in practice; the future of critique; and new entanglements of experimentation, politics, capital, bureaucratic logics, and the material.  Our keynote speaker, Professor Richard Rottenburg gave a wonderful address that was both accessible to a wide audience and conceptually provocative, in which he suggested a new post-critique approach to social inquiry that embodies compassion, responsibility, and an acceptance of uncertainty.  In all, approximately 75 people shared differing notions of science, technology, and expertise over the two day event.  Highlights included a robust debate on the existence of a division between the global south and north, comments and discussion representing multiple departments on Berkeley campus, and the continuation of the conversation well after the formal conclusion of the event on Saturday afternoon.  We hope to keep this discussion alive in future events with similar themes and feel that this symposium was just one such gathering in a growing explicit conversation around ‘development’ and STS.

Symposium Abstract:

Development, understood as a set of aspirations, an organizational field, sets of expertise, or a guiding imaginary has shifted in response to the post-colonial growth of democracy in the South, the rise of multi-stakeholder partnerships and sustainability discourses, and the frenzied search for innovative models by policy makers worldwide. The North to South transfer of aid and tools, a process in which Northern experts were central, has opened up to the transfer of policies – like impact assessments, ecosystem services, or public health programs – in which Southern experts are increasingly involved. A ‘local’ view of the world has been promoted as more sensitive and appropriate to local, real-world needs and customs for many decades by development scholars and practitioners. However, we are now seeing not only ‘local’ models and policies being developed in situ in democratic countries such as Chile, but we are also seeing the rise of ‘Southern’-led international cooperation agreements, and ‘Southern’ models travelling to the ‘North’. For example, transport policies from Bogota are being implemented in San Francisco, while multiple African nations are receiving development aid from Brazil and technical advice from Bolivia.

Debates about local specificity versus global or universal truths have been central to STS scholarship. In this symposium, we wish to examine these new ‘local’-universals. What does it mean for Mayor Bloomberg to bring conditional cash transfers, developed in rural Mexico, to address poverty in New York? Are South Korean missionaries practicing a different Christian evangelism in Kenya? More generally, should we be analyzing the practices of representation, translation, and reconciliation, central to development programs and policies with an eye to shared ‘peripheral’ histories? In what ways do the epistemic roots of knowledge matter?

This symposium invites scholars to reflect on the dynamics of science, technology and expertise in international development, domestic development practices, and how these two interact. Despite its ambivalent history, development is still framed as an aspiration for millions. Thus these questions are central to critical investigations of legitimacy, epistemic authority, and democracy. We hope that, in bringing together a diverse collection of scholars, we may productively challenge our own assumptions and approaches to studying expertise, representational practices, and circulations unfolding in the name of development.

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Keynote Speaker:

Richard Rottenburg is Chair of Anthropology at the Institute for Anthropology and Philosophy at Martin-Luther University and a Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, where he heads the Law, Organization, Science, and Technology Research Group. Among his many publications, he is the author of “Far-Fetched Facts: A Parable of Development Aid” (2009), and is co-editor of “Rethinking Biomedicine and Governance in Africa. Contributions from Anthropology” (2012), and “Identity politics and the new genetics – re/creating categories of difference and belonging” (2012).

Schedule of events

All events will be held in the Blum Center for Developing Economies located on Hearst Avenue by the North Gate of the Berkeley campus.

Friday April 5th

8.30 am Registration tables open
9.00 – 9.15 Welcome and Opening remarks
9.15 – 10.15 Session 1: Local scientific practices in historical perspective
“After African Science: Irony in a Ghanian Laboratory”
Damien Droney, PhD candidate, Stanford University 
Based on ethnographic research at an herbal medicine research center in Ghana, this paper explores the use of ironic joking about doing science in Africa. Laboratory workers made frequent cynical remarks about their work as being “African” or “indigenous” in exclusively negative ways. Referring to broken equipment, a lack of necessary items, unreliable infrastructure, and the resulting improvisation of laboratory work, laboratory workers jokingly referred to this state of affairs as “African science.” I argue that this joking has a distancing effect, and once indexing a history where scientists in Africa were symbolically representative of modern Africa, while making a claim to a different kind of membership in the world of science. This marks a shift in the cultural politics of science in Africa, away from the identity politics of independence era valorization of a particularly African modernity and toward a less idealistic model of global citizenship.
“Learning to See: Training in Ultrasound Imaging in Phnom Penh, Cambodia”
Jenna Grant, PhD candidate, University of Iowa
Trainings are key development practices through which biomedicine and its technologies come into being. In this paper I present preliminary research on modes of training in ultrasound imaging in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Ultrasound technologies were not available in Cambodia until 1989 due to the effects of conflict, poverty, and isolation on the health system. Recently, ultrasound services have proliferated, particularly in the relatively unregulated and thriving private sector. However, physicians and health officials in Phnom Penh consider expertise in how to produce and interpret ultrasound images, and determine diagnoses, to be inadequate. In this context, training in ultrasound imaging becomes a focus for worries and aspirations about “quality” – of education, of doctors, of machines, and even the health system – for a variety of local and interstitial (Rottenburg 2009) actors. I describe two modes of training: one given by a multinational corporation in the context of a donation program at a public hospital, and one given by a private clinic which offers training courses for a fee as well as free ultrasound services. In the corporate training, Cambodian difference was operationalized through the technology – how to program fetal weight measurements, for example. At the clinic training, the heterogeneity of Cambodian biomedicine – for example, elderly provincial doctors educated in the former USSR or medical students trained in English in Phnom Penh – was managed in terms of acquiring a new skill, “learning how to see”, as one physician put it. In both the top-down and the from-the-ground-up trainings, difference and heterogeneity are problems ameliorated through acquisition of technical expertise. These trainings illustrate how, for a variety of actors, a technology becomes central to development of Cambodian biomedicine, occasioning new alignments of public, private, business and philanthropy in the process.
Jenna Grant is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. She is currently writing her dissertation about biomedical imaging, primarily ultrasound, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This ethnography analyzes the routinization of ultrasound imaging in relation to histories of technology within postcolonial biomedicine; visual repertoires for imaging and expectations of what can be seen; visual forms of biomedical and other-than-biomedical expertise; and emerging development practices.
“Cobalt Blues: Radiotherapy Technopolitics in Uganda”
Marissa Mika, PhD candidate, University of PennsylvaniaBio
Marissa Mika is a Phd candidate in African history and the history of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting student at U.C. Berkeley. My dissertation, tentatively titled “Surviving Experiments: Cancer Research in Uganda 1950s to the Present” is a historical ethnography of how research initiatives on cancer created a fragile but longstanding culture of experimental oncology at the Uganda Cancer Institute. I trace how this small combination chemotherapy research enclave sponsored by the American National Cancer Institute in the 1960s is being refashioned into a space of public oncology in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. My work theorizes how experiments create and shape cultures of care that take on a political and social life of their own, well after the experiments themselves have ended.
Chair: Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, Assistant Professor of History, UC Berkeley
Professor Osseo-Asare studies the history of medicine and science, with special reference to cases in Africa. Her primary research focus is the history of pharmaceuticals and herbal medicines. Professor Osseo-Asare is conducting research for a new project on the history of medical isotopes, radiation, and atomic energy in Ghana, funded through a National Science Foundation Scholar’s Award.
10.15 – 11.15 Session 2: Rights, property and co-production
“From Science to Management: Environmental Assessment and Post-Apartheid Knowledge-Making”
Mark Gardiner, PhD student, Stanford University
The Central Namib’s bleak landscape is home to few people, much biodiversity, and, since the mid-2000s, an increasing number of uranium mining concerns. This increase in mining activity has led to an increase in knowledge production connected to “environmental assessment,” from small-scale reports by prospecting companies up through a national “strategic environmental assessment” and management framework. Before this, the Namib had already been a site for sustained and active knowledge production: as a site for scientific research in ecology, geomorphology, archaeology, and other natural sciences.
Based on ethnographic research with bureaucrats and scientists in Namibia between 2007 and 2012, this paper discusses the changing identities, biographies, and practices of researchers involved in both science and environmental assessment. Many researchers narrate the past four decades as one of decline: from an earlier era when research was “pure” to one in which it is more narrowly instrumental. Others see this as a welcome consequence of Namibian independence and a move away from colonial modes of research. The paper discusses the tensions and contradictions in these narratives, setting them in perspective against both Namibia’s recent history and transnational trends in environmental management.
The paper closes by considering the implications that these shifts in knowledge practices may have for Namibia’s ability to deal with the threats and opportunities that new mining projects present.
“Performances of knowledge and state/tribe water resource conflicts in New Zealand”
Hekia Bodwitch, PhD candidate, UC Berkeley
In February 2012, a pan-Maori group filed a claim against the government’s proposed privatization of 49% shares in state hydropower operation, halting the sales, at least for the moment. The group argued that Maori have customary rights to water and that therefore the government cannot privatize hydro-assets, and their accompanying water rights, without Maori consent. The government is arguing that no one can own water in New Zealand. Racial tensions are flying high around this claim, with mainstream news sources arguing that the claim unfounded and opportunistic.This, however, is not the first time Maori have asserted rights to water resources in New Zealand. In this paper I examine how today’s politics surrounding state/tribe water resource development compares to and plays off of historical debates around water resources in New Zealand. I outline a history of state/tribe water conflicts and claims in New Zealand, examining the use of cultural, legal, and scientific discourses and the ways knowledge is performed in official settings to support or contest various claims. Most of this work will focus on water rights debates occurring after 1929, the year when Maori proprietary rights in water were first asserted and granted.By historically grounding today’s racially charged debates around water rights in New Zealand I explore how local understandings of human resource uses travel. In looking at the various knoweldges and framings used to support or contest Maori claims historically, I seek to identify the ways legal, scientific and cultural knowledges move through time and between cultural milieus. In this work I follow the call from post-colonial and STS scholars to examine the effects of various forms of social ordering, exploring how particular venues for resolving conflicts impact the way the conflict is framed and resolved.
“The Work of Bioprospecting in Panama”
Alberto Morales, PhD student, UC Irvine
Chair: David Winickoff, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
11.15 – 11.30 Coffee break
11.30 – 12.30 Session 3: Universals of international development I: procedures & logics
  “The Green Turn of Development Assistance: the Global Environmental Facility as a case study”
Nicole Gayard, PhD student, and Maria Conceição da Costa, Professor, State University of Campinas – UNICAMP, Brazil
The rise of global environmental issues has spurred the creation of several international institutions for environmental aid. When analysing these institutions’ origins and organisation, one may recognize many aspects taken from international aid in a broader sense, including changes on aid patterns and increasing participation of receivers in the definition of projects. This is specially the case of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), a North-South funding mechanism created in 1991 to address the call of global participation in mitigating environmental problems. In the development of its projects, the GEF has adopted many standards from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as it has been created from inside – or working closely with – these institutions.In the analysis of the Fund, it is argued that the patterns adopted inside the GEF have a great influence in the definition of green development and of better ways to promote it, inside a North-South interface. In order to understand this frame, the paper analyses the procedures and requirements for the submission of projects to the GEF.The institution has in some ways incorporated local expertise and indigenous knowledge in its green projects. Nevertheless, it is still inserted in a broader context in the quest for development in the international arena, in which economic growth is to be constantly reached. Besides, issues of technological dependency remain present when applying environmental aid projects.The analysis also discuss the deadlock between development and sustainability, for which the Fund aims to collaborate, as a constantly pursued issue in the realm of cleaner technologies that demand higher investment in R&D; but these are not found in the portfolio of the GEF.
Nicole Aguilar Gayard is a Doctorate Student, Department of Science and Technology Policy at State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main issues of research are science and technology studies, asymmetries in scientific and technological capabilities in the global context, scientific cooperation, and research and development for the environment.Maria Conceição da Costa is Associate Professor, Department of Science and Technology Policy at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). Her research interests are on Sociology of Science and Political Science with an emphasis in Social Studies of Science and Technology, acting on the following topics: dynamics of scientific knowledge, international cooperation, gender studies and public policy.
 “O Brasil Gigante: Reproducing the Brazilian Miracle in Sub Saharan Africa”
Ryan Nehring, Associate Researcher, and Wendy Wolford, Professor, Cornell University
Over the past seven years, official ties between Brazil and Africa have grown steadily through the expansion of direct public investment. Prompted by President Luis Inacio (“Lula”) da Silva, the Brazilian agricultural research enterprise, Embrapa, has established multiple training and research centers in western and south-eastern Africa. These centers provide a space for “agricultural development” through germplasm exchanges, capacity training workshops, technology development and transfer, and market intensification. A win-win scenario is envisioned in official documents: Brazil will expand the market for its agricultural technology, and African countries will improve crop production and modernize their agrarian sectors. Embrapa’s role in developing agriculture in Africa is heralded as the frontline of new South-South forms of cooperation; multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, as well as political representatives from both sides of the Atlantic depict Brazil as the natural partner in developing African agriculture given the former’s ability to turn unfavorable ecological and economic conditions into the basis of unprecedented agroindustrial strength. Vast stretches of the African savannahs are characterized as ecologically equivalent to the center-west of Brazil where large-scale soybean, sugar and cotton production has come to dominate. In this article, we analyze the economic, scientific and political aspects of this South-South collaboration, focusing particularly on the changing political economy and ecology of public investments into agriculture. We argue that the rise of Brazilian investment into Africa is a product of three main elements: the global food crisis and concerns about world food security; the production of scientific knowledge and political discourses that have the power to render disparate environments as equivalent through technologies of abstraction; and a political economy in which public agencies source revenue from public-private partnerships. This paper represents an initial attempt to theorize and identify the networks of exchange and extraction, and to paint an empirical picture of recent developments and future trajectories.
Ryan Nehring is a research associate in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University working with Dr. Wendy Wolford. Before coming to Cornell, he was a research consultant with the United Nations Development Programme – International Policy Centre (UNDP-IPC) in Brasilia, Brazil. Over the past three years, Ryan has conducted research throughout Latin America primarily concerned with the political economy of rural development and the role of agrarian social movements in developing state-led food security initiatives and poverty reduction strategies. Most recently, Ryan and Dr. Wolford are exploring the role of Brazil in transferring technology and knowledge sharing as a new approach to realize a new “green revolution” in Africa. Ryan grew up just outside Bismarck, ND and holds a Masters in International Development from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a BA from the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, MN.
  “Sustainability in the Age of the Logic Frame: The Double Binds of Humanitarian Mental Health Guidelines”
Ilil Benjamin, PhD student, Cornell University
In 2007, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a consortium of over 200 UN and non-UN humanitarian bodies, published a landmark set of Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support. These guidelines came amidst growing dissatisfaction with the “parachuting psychologist” model of humanitarian mental health, which had seen short-term therapy and trauma training sessions dominate practice during the previous two decades. Growing concerns about the sustainability and appropriateness of such interventions, then, have given rise to a new paradigm of “psychosocial” interventions, wherein psychologists, social workers, public health administrators, and volunteers run day camps for kids, vocational training workshops, and peace and reconciliation programs with Indonesian tsunami victims and Eritrean refugees alike. The 2007 guidelines frame interdisciplinarity as crucial to making a long-term impact, and their language is rife with allusions to participation, community-based work, and local knowledge. At the same time, these guidelines are still hewn in the tradition of the logic frame, with its emphasis on scientific testing and quantitative evaluation as virtues in and of themselves. How are the latter to be reconciled in the mental health sphere with amorphous conceptions of participation and sustainability, which for some have been synonymous with the critique of quantification and of science as myopic, potentially harmful approaches to development? Based on interviews with planners and practitioners of the IASC guidelines, and on fieldwork in NGOs in Israel and Palestine, this talk illustrates how IASC policy makers and mental health aid workers relate sustainability and evidence to each other, how they differ in their understandings of the two, and how frontline workers experience both imperatives as falling short of locals’ needs. In spotlighting the difficulties of defining sustainability in an age of growing humanitarian quantification, this talk aims to contribute to broader debates about the shifting meanings of humanitarian accountability.
Ilil Benjamin is a doctoral student at the department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. Focusing on medical humanitarianism in contexts of forced migration and conflict, she has conducted fieldwork in Israel and Palestine, looking at how local and transnational NGOs respond to growing calls for evidence-based interventions. She explores the challenges of implementing evidence-based policies whilst also striving for greater sustainability in community mental health, two goals that have a sometimes fractious relationship in the field. She has also studied tensions among humanitarianism and human rights agendas in an Israeli medical NGO, asking how the mandate to treat refugees can come into conflict with desires to withhold aid in order to pressure the Israeli government to take responsibility for their care. She is currently writing her dissertation, which has been funded in part by the Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Cornell University and by the National Science Foundation.
Chair: Louise Fortmann, Professor of Environmental Science Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
12.30 – 1.15 Lunch
1.15 – 2.15 Session 4: Universals international development II:
the local & “success”
“Performing Development: Scripted school visits, education conferences, and (re)producing development discourses in Paraguay and Uruguay”
Morgan Ames, PhD candidate, Stanford University
I offer three vignettes from my ethnographic fieldwork studying One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) in Paraguay and Uruguay in 2010 that illustrate the ways that governments, non- governmental organizations, transnational corporations, and individual beneficiaries ‘perform success’ of development projects to high-ranking visitors and other outsiders.The first describes a brief school visit in Paraguay by a co-founder of OLPC, contrasting the highly scripted, heavily staffed, celebratory event to the everyday experiences of using OLPC’s laptops in classrooms.The second describes a highly technological “educational conference” in Paraguay, where large software corporations exhibited expensive cutting edge technology in flashy displays to officials who had no hope of affording the equipment and teachers whose day- to-day realities were entirely unrepresented and misunderstood.The third describes a “Digital Citizenship” conference in Uruguay, where the goals of the country-wide, government-run OLPC project, Plan Ceibal, were publicly shifted away from learning outcomes and toward eliminating the digital divide. This allowed the conference to be a celebration of the (redefined) success of the project rather than a frank discussion of its ongoing challenges.These vignettes problematize the value of first impressions and staged events by providing examples of participants’ desires to ‘perform success’ to visitors and outside observers. They also draw attention to the pressure on development projects to reach unrealistically high, even utopian, goals, leading to these performances of success. Finally, they demonstrate the benefit of sustained and embedded observations of development projects, which can overcome these performances.
Morgan G. Ames draws on training in anthropology, communication, and
computer science to research the ways we make sense of new technologies in our everyday lives. She is a doctoral candidate in Stanford University’s Department of Communication and a former National Science Foundation graduate fellow.For her dissertation research, Morgan is investigating the social meanings of the One Laptop Per Child project, tracing its intellectual history and assessing its deployments across the Americas. She spent six months in 2010 conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Paraguay, and is also involved with OLPC research initiatives in Perú, Uruguay, Haiti, and Birmingham, Alabama. With the support of Nokia Research, Morgan previously explored how middle- and working-class families with
young children use media and communications technologies. She has also collaborated with research teams at Google, Yahoo!, and Intel.
“Viral Politics: Sex Worker Mobilization and HIV/AIDS Funding in India”
Gowri Vijayakumar, PhD candidate, UC Berkeley
“Mining Dreams, Corporate Gifts, and Embattled Expertise: Who will envisage the ‘greening’ of Peru?”
Stefanie Graeter, PhD candidate, UC Davis
The government of Peru repeatedly affirms its status as a “Pais Minero,” or “A Mining Country,” especially in order to dismiss the growing unrest among Andean provinces regarding transnational companies prospecting for mineral deposits on their lands. Agricultural communities argue that mining brings with it contamination that destroys their agrarian means of subsistence, as well their health and well-being. The government and mining corporations retort that it is only through mining that Peru can “develop” to its highest economic potential as a nation, and through corporate-funded infrastructure, education, and microbusiness at the level of the community. Within this national context, my paper discusses the three interconnected cases that I encountered during my fieldwork in the central highlands and the coastal port of Callao. 1. The relationship between shipping and mineral deposit corporations at the port of Callao with local community members and NGOs. 2. The ‘greening’ of a large-scale smelter in the Andean City of La Oroya. 3. The alliance between a U.S. University and an Andean Catholic church in order to enhance their technological and methodological expertise to carryout environmental monitoring of mining contamination. All three cases illustrate the strange twist of fate that has occurred, through which polluting industries have come to be those responsible for “greening”, protecting, and monitoring their own operations and its surrounding environs. The cases also highlight how technology, expertise, and material exchange between corporations, NGOs, and communities are often mobilized through public-relations discourse to satisfy corporate responsibility through ideals of ‘development’, while vast material and monetary inequality persist. Yet the final case also highlights how North-South ‘capacitation’ can create what I would argue is a subversive form of development, which can undermine state and corporate interests by challenging concepts of development and who has the right to harness the expertise for its achievement.
I am a PhD candidate at UC Davis’ department of sociocultural anthropology. Generally my research interests concern questions of truth, knowledge, and science within the realm of environmental health politics. I recently completed my dissertation fieldwork in central Peru (funded by NSF GRFP and SSRC IDRF grants), investigating the politics of lead contamination caused by the mineral extraction industry. My research focused on two sites, one in the Andes and one at the Port of Callao, whose contextual differences allow me to comment on several NGO, ecclesial, and corporate development practices happening today in Peru.
Chair: Jenna Burrell, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley
2.15 – 2.45 Address by Professor Aihwa Ong
Anthropology Department, UC Berkeley
Ong’s work focuses on regimes of governing, technology, and culture that crystallize new meanings and practices of the human. Her field research shifts between Southeast Asia and China. She is co-editor, most recently, of: Global Assemblages: technology, politics and ethics as anthropological problems (2005); Asian Biotech: ethics and communities of fate (2010); and Worlding Cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global (2011)
2.45 – 3.00 Coffee break
3.00 – 5.00 Keynote address by Professor Richard Rottenburg
Chair of Anthropology, Martin-Luther University, and Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, where he heads the Law, Organization, Science, and Technology Research Group, Germany.
Professor Rottenburg has written and edited books on the Sudan, economic anthropology, the transcultural production of objectivity, and theorizing postneoliberal governance. He is the author of “Far-Fetched Facts: A Parable of Development Aid” (2009, English translation), and is co-editor of “Rethinking Biomedicine and Governance in Africa. Contributions from Anthropology” (2012), and “Identity politics and the new genetics – re/creating categories of difference and belonging” (2012).

Saturday April 6th

9.00 – 10.00 Networking over coffee & pastries
10.00 – 11.00 Session 5: South-South Cooperation
“A Pact with a Green Devil: Jatropha biofuel production as rural development in Senegal”
Andrew Howe, PhD student, University of Oregon
Jatropha curcas L., the once touted ‘silver bullet’ to Senegal’s rural development debate and dependence on foreign oil, is reasserting its role after failed national policy and aborted foreign investment during the previous decade. In 2006, Senegal sought to curb oil imports by adopting a biofuel program centered on Jatropha, with support from Brazil and India, given the plant’s ability to withstand arid conditions and the poor soils of the Sahel Region. Under this pretense ‘marginal lands,’ otherwise deemed unused and nearly non-arable, would become the source of rural employment and a national fuel source. Despite Jatropha’s ability to withstand adverse conditions, its ability to produce reliable yields relies on ample moisture and adequate nutrients. Moreover, the perception of ‘marginal lands’ revealed contested relationships between the state and peasants, which led to protest, loss of familial lands and unfulfilled promises of employment. Today, the potential for reinforcing rural economies and ecologies is highlighted by the misconstrued agronomic capabilities surrounding Jatropha that had first attracted Senegal’s former President, Abdoulaye Wade. In 2012, the African Union partnered with Senegal, Burkina Faso and Benin to launch a new multi-platform approach that first found small stakeholder success in neighboring Mali. The grassroots approach of organized local production and consumption offers localized electrification, cooking fuel, and organic fertilizer rendered from crop residue. Additionally, implementing Jatropha in its traditional use as a living fence, which mitigates risk to food security, serves to protect crops from grazing livestock while reinforcing the poor soils to protect against wind and water erosion—most recently exacerbated by climate change and desertification. Based on fieldwork that I conducted in Senegal during 2012, the paper presents ethnographic research that considers household economics and local energy use in comparison with local ecologies and agricultural practices to consider the risks and benefits of adoption.
Andrew Howe is a second-year Masters student in the Department of International Studies at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on state agricultural policy in West Africa, with particular attention to technological advances of rural biofuel production and land use change. Andrew is a native of Bismarck, ND, but has lived and studied in Greece, France and China. He holds a B.A. in International Studies from the University of North Dakota. Previous experience includes fieldwork on access to education in China as well as teaching English at a public middle school in rural Hunan Province. Upon graduation in June of 2013, he hopes to return to Senegal for continued work before continued graduate studies in Political Ecology.
“Research Scientists as Front-liners in South-South Cooperation: the Brazil-Africa case”
Leticia Cesarino, PhD candidate, UC Berkeley
This presentation is based on ethnographic research about Brazil’s provision of technical cooperation to the African continent, in what’s part of a broader surge in South-South cooperation during the past decade or so. Much of Brazil’s technical cooperation in agriculture has been implemented by its renowned national research institute, Embrapa, by means of direct engagements with African counterpart institutions. This presentation will focus on the roles played by Brazilian research scientists – agronomists, entomologists, breeders –as frontliners in the implementation of projects and capacity-building trainings in Africa. It will outline some of the specificities of the Brazilian development intervention in this respect, most prominently what I have been referring to as the work of “context-building” for technology and knowledge transfer across the Southern Atlantic. It will conclude by arguing for a closer engagement between mainstream STS literature (such as Latour’s actor-network theory) and insights from other fields more sensitive to the historical experiences of the so-called global South, most prominently postcolonial critique.
Letícia Cesarino is a sixth-year PhD candidate in the Social Cultural Anthropology Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked on the interface between techno-science, politics, and development. She holds an M.A. from the University of Brasília, with research on Brazil’s federal regulations on genetically modified organisms and human embryonic stem cell research. Her current project approaches technology adaptation and transfer in agriculture as part of South-South cooperation between Brazil and Africa. She has published in Social Studies of Science, and Brazilian and European journals.
“Training the New Cadre to ‘Reach the Unreached’: Calculation and Translation from an Economic Periphery of Modern Science”
Logan Williams, PhD candidate, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
In southern India, community ophthalmology professionals from Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, and Nigeria eat lunch together at the trainee hostel named Inspiration in May 2012. They have come to Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology in Madurai to be trained to perform cataract microsurgery, manage eye hospitals, or repair medical instruments, among other short-term courses. LAICO is recognized as one of a handful of WHO Collaborating Centers for the Prevention of Blindness. How does STS explain the movement of ideas, techniques, and practices from a geographic location that is on the economic periphery of modern science?
Latour describes the mapping of the Sakhalin islands as, firstly, the movement of accumulated indigenous knowledge from the periphery to the center of calculation and secondly, the movement of immutable and combinable mobiles from the center of calculation outwards (Latour 1987:229). However, Latour’s work has limited efficacy in postcolonial technoscience studies because it does not acknowledge how Western imperialism and development has shaped the co-evolution of center and periphery (Harding 2008:42-43).
This research is based upon 73 interviews and 10.25 months of observation in Kenya, Nepal, India and Mexico. In this paper, I argue that LAICO (and other similar institutions) are sites of calculation on the periphery. They are exemplar of south-south (and occasionally south-north) movement of surgical techniques, and management practices, etc. This process of translation is mediated by historical asymmetries of power between the global North and the global South and also between dominant and subordinate networks in the global scientific field of ophthalmology. Community ophthalmologists are marginalized; however some of them are leveraging their location on the periphery to train domestic and foreign professionals how to address avoidable blindness for the world’s ‘unreached’ – the rural poor.
Logan D. A. Williams is a Ph. D. Candidate in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (defending May 2013). In 2012-2013, she is a Visiting Scholar at Public Communication of Science and Technology Project in the department of Communication at North Carolina State University.
Logan’s dissertation thesis aims to better understand civil society research, technology appropriation, and knowledge circulation in order to improve policies for science, technology and development. Her research questions investigate the local production and global dissemination of knowledge and technology in nongovernmental organizations and/ or small enterprises. This dissertation research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, and the Smithsonian Institutes Lemelson Center.
In Fall 2013, Logan will join Michigan State University as an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Lyman Briggs College and the department of Sociology. Logan has published in Minerva and Technology in Society.
11.00 – 12.00 Session 6: Counting Development
“Counting Development: Taking Numbers at Interface Value”
Tjitske Holtrop, PhD candidate, University of Amsterdam
This will be a paper about development numbers. The context of these numbers is evaluation research on development interventions in the South of Afghanistan and my endeavor to understand what numbers are, what they do, and how they are made during my fieldwork as an evaluator trainee with an Afghan evaluation research organization.
Whereas we often think of numbers as either universal abstractions or culturally relative social constructions, following Helen Verran’s work on numbers I would like to explore numbers as inseparable from the practices in which the enumerated material entities come to life, and, as deeply embedded in and constitutive of the real. Taking an excel sheet produced in the evaluation of education in the South of Afghanistan as a point of departure, I follow three different kinds of numbers: GPS coordinates, zeros, and indicators. I will describe how these numbers shift shape between valuing, referential devices, and ordering devices as they are collected in the field and cleaned and analyzed in Kabul, affecting notions of accuracy and transparency in the process. By tracing numbers within practices of representation, translation, and accounting in evaluation research, we will be able to appreciate how numbers contribute to the configuration of education as a development goal in the South of Afghanistan.
Tjitske Holtrop is a PhD student in Anthropology at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Amsterdam. She is doing a PhD on ‘accountability in practice, an ethnographic study of evaluation research in Afghanistan,’ based on her work as an evaluator trainee for an Afghan research organization in Kabul in 2010 and 2011.
“Informality as Rationality – Comment on a Table”
William F. Stafford, Jr., PhD student, UC Berkeley
In a report comissioned by the Planning Commission of India to review of the methodology for setting the poverty line, known as the Tendulkar Report, the observation is made that the number which corresponds to the poverty line is essentially arbitrary. The point is not that the number is chosen arbitrarily, or a matter of convention. The explanation given is, rather, that where the poverty line is based on a qualitiative norm, the translation of this norm into a quantitative measure results in a certain abrtrariness with respect to its referent. In 2007, the poverty line was used by the National Commission on Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) to construct a table through which they were able to demonstrate that, while the number of severely poor had decreased since the implementation of the economic reforms begun in 1991, the numbers of the ‘vulnerable’ had increased. The category of the ‘vulnerable’ was made to include all those with incomes between the poverty line and twice its number, and the report does not contain a justification for this metric. This demonstration in turn serves as the basis for an argument that accepts the criticisms of the reforms by opponents of globalisation, privitisation and liberalisation – that the reforms were harmful – while dissociating the informalisation and casualisation of labour and employment which these opponents often describe as negative effects of such policies from notions of harm, precarity and destitution, per se. This provides the basis for a framing of the ‘informal’ as a new kind of economic and legal order, to be organised and regulated under the sign of security of livelihood.In this paper, I will analyse the table as an instrument for the generation of a new rationale for social regulation through the category of labour. I will specifically focus on the table as an agencement, and recent critiques of this figure as foundational to an account of economics as performative. I will gesture toward how such work allows us to beging to understand the institution of informality as a paradigm – rather than a type, or sector – of ‘economy’.
“Provincializing Science: Genomic Sovereignty and the Mapping & Marketing of Populations”
Ruha Benjamin, Assistant Professor, Harvard Kennedy School/Boston University
Far from nullifying the significance of race or diminishing the salience of nationalism, as proponents of genomic science had initially forecast after the completion of the Human Genome Project, population genomics draws upon and reinvigorates racial and nationalist understandings of human difference in often-unexpected ways. In this paper, I consider the opportunities and pitfalls that grow out of ‘genomic sovereignty’ as an emergent intellectual property frame in the Global South—one that stresses the importance of producing and analyzing homegrown datasets rather than using those produced by international science consortia, because the former are thought to lead to pharmaceutical drug development that is more ‘tailored’ to national subpopulations. Elsewhere I have discussed how this process gives rise to new biopolitical entities, “African DNA”, “Mexican DNA”, and “Indian DNA” among others, that elude scrutiny, in part, because of the emancipatory rhetoric in which they come packaged (Benjamin 2009). Here I investigate the relationship between genomic sovereignty policies and pharmaceutical drug development as a lens on to the ways that science reflects and resuscitates political struggles around national development and social equity. I build upon the theoretical framework of bioconstitutionalism in which developments in the life sciences and new political rights claims are understood as inextricable (Jasanoff 2011), to illustrate how claims about what the state owes particular groups is intimately connected to biological definitions of what constitutes a group in the first place. Finally, I ask session participants to think together about what alternative forms of knowledge production, science regulation, and economic development might lie between the global genome qua internationalism and the national genome qua sovereignty?References
Benjamin, R. 2009. A Lab of Their Own: Genomic Sovereignty as Postcolonial Science Policy. Policy & Society 28(4): 341-355.
Jasanoff, S (ed). 2011. Reframing Rights: Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age. MIT Press.
Ruha Benjamin is Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American studies at Boston University and an American Council of Learned Societies fellow at the Harvard University Science, Technology, and Society Program. She received her PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. Ruha is author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013).
12.00 – 1.00 Lunch
1.00 – 2.00 Session 7: The Politics of Urban Policy Circulation
led by Kevin Ward, Professor, University of Manchester and Sergio Montero, PhD candidate, UC Berkeley.With Anna Hult, PhD candidate, KTH Royal Institute of Technology; Jia-Ching Chen, PhD candidate in City & Regional Planning, UC BerkeleyBio
His research on environmentalization and green development in China brings together the fields of political ecology, urban studies, planning, and critical industrial ecology.
; Donald McNeill, Professor, University of Western Sydney; Christina Temenos, PhD candidate, Simon Fraser University Bio
Cristina Temenos is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University. Her research engages the mobilization and implementation of public health and harm reduction drug policies in cities across Europe, North America, and the Caribbean.  Cristina is interested in how the politics of policy mobilization engages with, creates, and reshapes spaces of urban public health within and among cities, and how policy activism and social movements produce and mobilize knowledge about health and human rights to advocate for policy change in specific cities. Her work is concerned with understanding how policy is unevenly implemented in cities, and the effects of implementation on communities and urban form.
; and multiple additional participants.Abstract
In this panel we seek to discuss the conceptual, empirical and methodological challenges of studying urban politics from a territorial/relational perspective. Drawing on work from across a number of disciplines, a group of critical urbanists have begun to theorize the world urban system relationally through the study of urban policy travels and inter-city referencing (Peck and Theodore 2010, McCann and Ward 2011, Ong and Roy 2011, Bunnell et al. 2012). This relational-territorial conceptualization of the urban raises a number of conceptual and methodological challenges for scholars interested in researching the construction of urban policy models and “best practices;” identifying the actors, agendas, institutions, and networks behind the circulating and mutating of policies; as well as in their many and variety of contestations. Kevin Ward and Sergio Montero will summarize the conclusions of 3 panels on urban policy mobilities presented at the 2013 Urban Affairs Association conference. This panel seeks to analyze the politics behind the construction of urban policy models and “best practices” and their circulations in cities of the North and the South. We encourage inter-disciplinary collaboration in this debate and welcome particularly approaches from anthropology, geography, history, planning, political science, sociology and STS.
2.00 – 2.15 Break
2.15 – 3.15 Session 8: National development and expertise
CANCELED “Building a Saudi knowledge economy? Science and technology, multi-nationals and domestic development in Saudi Arabia”
Timm Lau, Professor, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
The government of Saudi Arabia is currently pursuing economic change, away from dependency on oil exports towards a diversified and sustainable economy. Given the difficulty of achieving diversification of a largely single-track economy, what are the Saudi strategies of domestic development? What is the place of science and technology in these strategies? How are they shaped by globally dominant economic ideologies and processes, such as neoliberal approaches to knowledge and the interests of global capital? Based on ongoing ethnographic research, this paper will discuss the intersection of academia, government and multinational companies in the creation of a business cluster for industrial R&D and technological innovation in the energy sector. My research shows that the intended role of science and technology in this massive project seemingly accords with some key characteristics of ‘neoliberal science’ as discussed by Lave et al. (2010): the commoditization and commercialization of knowledge, especially through intellectual property protection; the integration of public science and education with private profit; a vision of the university as provider of human capital. In my paper, I will highlight the particularities of the Saudi move towards creating ‘value machines’ in a ‘knowledge economy’. Transnational currents of capital and research expertise are certainly integral parts of the business cluster project. How can Saudi national elites and multinational companies participate in domestic development, each bringing its own set of interests to the table and creating potential for conflicts of interest? What is the relationship between the Saudi state and corporations? Are the tenets at work in the creation of the business cluster as exclusively driven by ‘neoliberal’ ideas as they seem? In addressing these questions, I will revisit and localize key problems concerning the shifting character of the university in new regimes of science management, and the balance of power between state and corporations.
Timm Lau is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He studied Ethnology in Hamburg (Germany) and took his M.Sc. in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Dr. Lau earned his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2007. His dissertation focused on economy and identity in the Tibetan diaspora in India. From 2010 to 2011, Dr. Lau held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Calgary (Canada), where he undertook research on Tibetan economic adaptation in Canada funded by the AXA Research Fund. He is co-editor of How Do We Know? Evidence, Ethnography and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge (2008) and has written several journal articles and book chapters on the Tibetan diaspora. He is currently engaging in new research on science and technology and innovation in the Saudi Arabian energy sector.
“Applying STS in Industrial Settings: Examples and Challenges”
Rodrigo Ribeiro, Senior Lecturer, Federal University of Minas Gerais – UFMG, Brazil
Based on four years of research at a US$3.2 billion industrial plant close to the Amazon rainforest, I argue that industrial settings are “microcosms” for studying and acting on the many problems faced by Science and Technology Studies (STS). Examples of topics found within this single case are: 1) the need to develop the expertise of the workforce; 2) the relationship between managers (as lay people) and experts; 3) the impact of the North-South divide both within Brazil and between Brazilians and foreign suppliers; 4) the presence and closure of scientific controversies; and 5) the battle between technological paradigms. Specifically, I will show how STS-based concepts were developed and applied in order to speed up the transfer of tacit knowledge from the few experienced people hired from other parts of Brazil to novices hired locally. Despite the challenges faced, I will claim that STS scholars have a role to play in designing new ways of looking at and dealing with the relationships among science, technology and society, beyond the description of such relationships.
Rodrigo Ribeiro is an associate professor at the Industrial Engineering Department of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. His education and research is multidisciplinary. He has a major in Civil Engineering and a M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering as well as a M.Sc. in Social Science Research Methods and a Ph.D. in Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. His main interests and research are on the technical, social, linguistic, organizational, personal, economic, gender- and power-related, political and even geographical and architectural aspects of knowledge and technology transfer. Since 2008, he has been studying the construction and start-up of a US$3.2 billion nickel plant in the North of Brazil, close to the Amazon rainforest. During 2013, Rodrigo is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is writing a book about the first part of this research in Brazil and looking at the same case from three perspectives; namely the Phenomenology of Perception, Studies on Expertise, and Ethnographic Studies on Apprenticeship.
“Developing Economic Theory: Heterodox Economists and Inflation in Argentina”
Nicholas D’Avella, Post-Doctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
High and persistent inflation has been one of the distinguishing macroeconomic features of many developing countries, particularly since the end of World War II, making inflation an important aspect of economic policy in the developing world. Critiques of economic development are many, but they frequently focus on policy choices and their implementation rather than on the economic theories from which policies are derived. This paper examines the politics of economic knowledge production through an analysis of recent debates surrounding inflation in Argentina. Until recently, most Latin American policymakers accepted explanations of inflation that were grounded in monetarist, neoclassical economic theory — the brand of theory that had been famously and forcefully imported to the region through the intervention of US-trained economists like the Chicago Boys (and later the IMF). But in the past decade, as part of a widely-noted turn to the left in the region, heterodox economists have gained an increasing voice in countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela. These economists, whose work challenges some basic tenets of the “orthodox” neoclassical tradition, are working to forge new economic theories grounded in the Global South as part of broader efforts to find alternatives to neoliberalism in Latin America. In Argentina, the backlash for rethinking economic fundamentals has been strong: in addition to divisive internal debates, the country faces censure from the IMF for its allegedly misleading statistical production, and The Economist has stopped publishing economic data provided by the country. By following debates about the measurement, nature, and causes of inflation, this paper tracks economic theory through the various theaters of its production and circulation in order to rethink economic knowledge production in Latin America.
My current manuscript, From Banks to Bricks: Architecture, Investment, and Neighborhood Life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is an ethnographic study of a construction boom in Buenos Aires following Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001. Based on two years of fieldwork with investors, architects, and neighborhood residents, it examines the reconstitution of the real estate market on new terms after the crisis. While scholarship on cities has tended to highlight the role of urban planning, my work shows how the built environment is produced by a range of groups struggling to redefine their roles in a dynamic, market-based context. The small investors driving the boom sought an alternative to a banking system they no longer trusted; architects moved to replace faltering real estate developers in the construction sector; and neighborhood groups advocated in the city government to limit the high-rise construction that was transforming many neighborhoods. The transformations engendered by the boom were neither totalizing nor smooth, however. Instead, my analysis shows that new contexts had to be negotiated with diverse forms of quotidian practice. By studying the movement of buildings through investment portfolios and market analyses, architectural designs, and urban planning codes, I demonstrate how historically sedimented, documentary practices help define the terms upon which the city is produced.My next project is a study of post-neoliberal economic policies in Latin America. In contrast to neoliberal economic doctrines brought to Latin America by US-trained economists in the 1970s, financial crises and a political turn to the left in the region have given voice to economists whose theoretical perspectives fall outside those recognized by mainstream economics. A shared commitment to rethinking economics and development have brought several Latin American governments together to build institutions like BancoSur, a regional bank designed to provide a Southern response to the IMF. Through the ethnographic study of economists and economic cultures in Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil, this project will ask how different forms of economic expertise emerge from local historical contexts and are negotiated transnationally to produce new, regional forms of knowledge and policy in Latin America.
3.15 – 3.45 Closing remarks by Freyja Knapp and Javiera Barandiaran. And please join us at the Free House brew pub for an after-symposium drink!

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies • Blum Center for Developing Economies • Center for Latin American Studies • Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine, UCSF • Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management • Townsend Center for the Humanities
Blum Center for Developing Economies

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