Workshop 4: Gail Davies, ‘Moving mice: Managing emergence in experimental systems‘

Gail Davies (Department of Geography, UCL) opened her presentation stating that her paper is about deviants, mutants, virgins and rogues. Davies emphasised, however, that these are not her terms, but are used by her respondents to talk about the animals in their care. She explained that these are people managing the range of genetically altered mice used in contemporary biomedical research. Further, Davies argued that the terms take us back to the monstrous bodily overspills of early taxonomy. However, she pointed out that the context here is twenty-first century biology. Therefore, Davies proposed that these terms emerge as animal caretakers and scientists seek to understand the challenge that spontaneous mutations in laboratory mice present to their use as experimental objects.  Unexpected happenings in the mouse house either herald a useful new strain of research animal, or they are culled. Gail Davies stated that she is interested in where and when these different outcomes occur – the difference difference makes as it were.  Being a geographer, she read this through the spatiality of these experimental forms, using site as the basis from which to explore whether these moments of biological emergence are able to articulate new potential, or remain excessive to the demands of control in experimental systems.   

Workshop 3: Bronislaw Szerszynski, ‘Experimental time and the event of politics’

Bronislaw Szerszynski (Sociology, Lancaster University) opened his presentation stating that he wants to use it as an opportunity to develop some ideas about experimental subjection, the being subjected to an experiment. He proceeded in arguing that the force of experimentality can be used as an analogy to the force of law (Agamben, 1998; 2005).

Workshop 3: Linsey McGoey, ‘Experimental dissidence: economies of credibility in drug regulation’

Linsey McGoey’s  (Science and Technology Studies, Oxford) presentation  can be read below in the original version:

Workshop 1 - Melissa Leach, 'Experimenting with Development'

Melissa Leach (STEPS, University of Sussex) opened her presentation observing that it has long been said that Africa is a laboratory, used as a site for many projects that exemplify experimentality on a narrow scale – in the sense of clinical and field trials. Following this she argued more broadly that the development project can be seen as experiment, generating its own institutions and industry; its own experimental practices; its own ways of dealing with uncertainty, evaluating and reaching closure. Leach illustrated how more broadly still a far more global ‘experimental condition’ is exemplified, as the global systemic effects of interlocked, unpredictable changes become apparent (i.e. climate change, food and energy crises, pandemics). In her talk she offered some thoughts on how experimentality operates at each of these levels and made several cross-cutting observations and arguments that apply (in different ways) to all.

Workshop 1 - Discussion - The Age of the Generalised Experiment

Discussion following ‘The Age of the Generalised Experiment’ panel with Michael Dillon and Nigel Thrift explored  three themes: that of the nature of information systems, that of the counter forces to total war, and that of the politics of the security-entertainment complex.

Workshop 1 - Nigel Thrift, ‘The Transformation of Contemporary Capitalism’

Nigel Thrift (Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick) opened his paper by asking a question: What if there were several ontologies constituting the world? He likened the contemporary social reality to ‘LIFEWORLD INC.’ and proceeded in arguing that there is a new kind of naturalism appearing in the world – although culture is the same, natures differ, thus multiplying ontologies.

Workshop 1 - Michael Dillon ‘Warfare as Experiment’

Michael Dillon (Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University) opened his presentation by pointing to the two main assumptions that his approach is based on. Firstly, he argued that (modern, western, liberal) war is an experimental practise, explaining that war and experiments in science share a similar history. Secondly, Dillon pointed to the fact that war and experimentation not only go together and but are a logical formation – war is the extension of politics by other means and experiment is an extension of war by other means.

Workshop 1 - Bogdan Costea, 'Managerialism, Creativity and the University'

Bogdan Costea’s (Organization, Work and Technology, Lancaster University) presentation was an attempt to offer an interpretation of the explosive growth of the idiom of creativity in current managerial and academic culture. His hypothesis stated that, in its current phase, managerialism may have struck gold by appropriating one of the significant elements of the popular self-understanding of a globalised bourgeoisie.

Workshop 1 - Marion McClintock, ‘The Post-war UK University’

Marion McClintock (Honorary Archivist and former Academic Registrar, Lancaster University) opened her presentation with a comparison of the social reality in Lancaster after the Second World War and now. She explained how, 20 years after the death of Lord Ashton in 1930, the Lancaster community was still dominated by the rivalry of two major family companies, in contrast to 2009 when main Lancaster employers are two universities and a hospital.

Workshop 1 - David Lomas, ‘Simulation and Experiment in Surrealism’

David Lomas (AHRC Surrealism Centre, University of Manchester) opened his presentation by emphasizing the far reaching implications of simulation and asking the following question: How is our picture of surrealism altered by restoring simulation to its place at its heart?

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