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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Coleen Marie Carrigan
ANTH 473
Seattle Campus

Anthropology of Science and Technology

Introduces the study of science and technology as social and cultural phenomena. Considers both theoretical and methodological questions. Readings include key texts from interdisciplinary field of science studies as well as selected ethnographic texts. Examples taken from U.S. society and other local contexts. Prerequisite: one 200-level ANTH course.

Class description

This course explores the historical and contemporary intersections of gender, race, science, and technology, emphasizing biomedical and computing knowledge, practices and labor value. The aim of this course is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the cultural production of science and technology and to critically engage in the theories and methods of science and technology studies (STS) and feminist science and technology studies (FSTS). We investigate how gender helps constitute how science and technology are defined, practiced and applied. We also examine the political as well as philosophical stake in diversifying scientific knowledge production. We seek to understand what values are imposed and inculcated as the principles of scientific knowledge production and how these values reflect and reproduce broader cultural norms governing gender politics. We deconstruct entrenched binary oppositions, the historical and philosophical foundations of western science and technology and rely on feminist and postcolonial critiques of scientific epistemologies and practices to envision the transformation of the powers of technology to advance social justice. Our critical engagement with STS and FSTS scholarship focuses on the actors, approaches, epistemologies and applications of science and technology and interrogates the role of capitalism in the development and consumption of technology. This course is interdisciplinary. Readings are drawn from anthropology, cultural studies, feminist theory and philosophy, gender and sexuality studies, social history, and science and technology studies. Students are challenged to identify questions, key concepts, theoretical frameworks and methodologies helpful in forming their own research goals and intellectual expertise.

Student learning goals

Introduce a variety of ways of thinking about the reciprocal relationships between science and technology (specialized knowledge and practices) and society (the organized collection of human culture and activity).

Understand how gender intersects with race, class, and sexuality to shape scientific practices, identities, relations, and institutions of scientific and technological knowledge production.

Introduce participants to critical questions, key concepts and methodological approaches in science and technology studies. Apply these new concepts and orientations to one’s area of interest in preparation for future intellectual and professional work.

Learn to construct effective descriptions and analyses of both theoretical and mainstream discourses on science and technology.

Learn to connect to science and technology to the construction and regeneration of the capitalist economy.

Define ethnography and why it is a useful method to critically examine cultural norms and assumptions. Understand the value of ethnography to the study of science and technology and why science and technology studies must adapt traditional ethnographic methods.

General method of instruction

Large and small group discussions, lectures, peer learning opportunities

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Coleen Marie Carrigan
Date: 05/23/2013