Scientific Polyphony: How Scientific Narratives Configure Many ‘Voices’

Workshop organised by Dr Kim M. Hajek and Prof. Mary S. Morgan

3 June 2019, London School of Economics and Political Science

In the history of science, especially of the human and observational sciences, it has often been the case that knowledge-making activities drew upon many ‘voices’—accounts of a storm given by different observers; patient voices incorporated into a psychological case history; myths transcribed by an anthropologist. What many of these examples share is that the information provided by different voices takes narrative form in its own right. Yet scientists have also organised them into related groupings or broader narratives, as a way to elucidate particular research problems.

In this workshop, we ask how narrative has helped scientists to configure extended chunks of information, and ultimately to manage a multiplicity of voices in their enquiry. Using case studies from across a range of fields, workshop participants explore the roles played by narrative forms of explanation both within and across the contributions of multiple voices to science. Of particular concern are the ways that narrative serves to order polyphonic material into a larger epistemic scheme, and reciprocally, how narrative valorises or suppresses particular voices, or indeed shapes what counts as a ‘voice’ at all.

This workshop is organised as part of the Narrative Science Project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 694732). For more information on the project, please see our website: www.narrative-science.org

Speakers:

Dr Debjani Bhattacharyya, Drexel University
Ordering Cyclones: The Courtroom in the Making of Meteorological Sciences in Colonial India.

A/Prof. Devin Griffiths, University of Southern California
Darwin, Entrainment, and the Ecology of Form..

Dr Kim Hajek, LSE
Silencing Suggestion? Narratives of Suggestive Psychotherapy and Category Disputes in Hippolyte Bernheim’s Psychological Cases.

Prof. Isabelle Kalinowski, ENS, and Dr Camille Joseph, Université Paris 8
Unheard Words. Franz Boas and the Anthropology of Voices.

A/Prof. Birgit Lang, University of Melbourne
The Case of the Sexological Patient. From Narrative Polyphony to Visual Affect and Fragmentation.

Prof. Harro Maas, Centre Walras-Pareto, University of Lausanne
A Community on Paper: Reflections on a Witness Seminar on the History of Experimental Economics.

A/Prof. Jill Slinger (and Dr Lotte Bontje), TU Delft
On Narrative Competition in Coastal Policy Development.

Dr Rhianedd Smith, University of Reading
Weaving Narratives from Data and Myth: Multi-Vocal Heritage Interpretation at Glastonbury Abbey.

Attending the Workshop:

The workshop will take place at the LSE campus in central London, from approximately 9 am to 6 pm.

Attendance at the workshop is free and open to all; however, places are limited. Please register your interest in attending by emailing Dr Dominic Berry (d.j.berry@lse.ac.uk) as soon as possible.

The deadline for registration is Monday 20 May. Places will be confirmed by 22 May at the latest.

PhD Travel Bursaries:

To increase participation from the postgraduate community, we are making available 4 travel bursaries, each of up to £250. These can be used to recover the cost of train or airfare for those who wish to attend, and who are currently enrolled on a PhD programme, preferably with research interests directly related to the workshop themes.

To apply for a PhD travel bursary please write to Dr Dominic Berry (D.J.Berry@lse.ac.uk). Please include: Your name; university affiliation; thesis title; no more than 100 words on how this workshop relates to your research.

The deadline for applications to the travel bursary is Monday 13 May.

You will be notified as to the outcome of your application shortly thereafter. Applicants will be selected to ensure a diverse range of research interests and institutions are represented. 

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