Invited by the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences’ Research Center on Developmental Strategies for the Scientific Divisions and Disciplines of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sharon Traweek, a well-known historian and anthropologist of science and technology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), gave a lecture entitled “Anthropology and the History of Science and Technology ——Studying Big Science in Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States” at the IHNS on September 6th, 2012. Professor Kim Fortun from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Professor Michael Fischer from MIT also visited the IHNS with Professor Traweek and participated in a panel discussion on the history and anthropology of science and technology following the lecture.. Professor Han Qi of the IHNS hosted the visit by these distinguished scholars, and a number of professors and students from the IHNS, Tsinghua University and other institutions attended the lecture and panel discussion.
Professor Sharon Traweek teaches at the Gender Studies and History Departments of UCLA, and her research has focused on the science and technology studies (STS) from the perspectives of gender, anthropology, and history.. Her first book, Beamtime and Lifetime: The World of High Energy Physicists (Harvard University Press, 1988) has had a far-reaching impact in the international academic community. Its Chinese version was translated by Professor Liu Junjun and others and published by the Shanghai Science and Technology Education Press in 2003.
Professor Fortun and Professor Fischer are both well-known scholars in STS, especially in the anthropology of science, technology, and medicine. Professor Fortun's research and teaching focus on environmental health problems, and on developing ethnography as a way to understand and engage the complexities of the contemporary world, while Professor Fischer’s research interests included social and ethical issues arising from biomedical technologies.
Professor Traweek’s presentation consisted of four parts. First, it introduced some significant changes in knowledge making practices & ecologies since 1975. Then it outlined some research methods/modes of inquiry for studying such processes. Third, it described the use of tropes from literary studies and cultural studies in her research, such as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. Finally, the report engaged some cases studies in her current research, such as collaborations & instruments in high energy physics in Japan, Switzerland, and the US; large scale databases in astronomy in Japan, EU, and the US; and the design of regional collaborations in global research.
The anthropology of science and technology anthropology is a new emerging discipline at the end of the 20th century. On the one hand, it is a branch of social or cultural anthropology; on the other hand, it has become a field of STS, which sometimes also stands for Science and Technology, and Society. Chinese scholars have just began to engage in the anthropological research about science and technology in recent years, and the efforts so far have mainly focused on translation and explorations. Thus Professor Traweek’s extensive knowledge, interesting presentation, and interdisciplinary research methods aroused a great deal of interest in her audience. They actively engaged in a discussion with her following her lecture.
Subsequently Professor Fischer and Professor Fortun respectively introduced their research experiences, academic interests, current research projects and main points of view in regard to STS.
Professor Han also took the opportunity to give a brief history of the IHNS and its current activities, and presented gifts to the honored visiting guests on behalf of the institute. The guests also inquired about everyone’s research interests, and expressed a strong interest in future research cooperation.
Professor Sharon Traweek of UCLA lectured on “Anthropology and the History of Science and Technology”
The scene of the lecture
Professor Han Qi of the IHNS Presented a Gift to Professor Traweek on behalf of the IHNS
Professor Han Qi presented a gift to Professor Michael Fischer of MIT and Professor Fortun of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Professor Liu Bing of Tsinghua (from the left), Professor Kim Fortun of RPI, and Professor Fan Dainian of the Institute of Science and technology policy and management science research institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Professor Han and Professor Fischer during discussion with other Chinese scholars
（ by Zhang Zhihui ）