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Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill

The six UK Genetics Knowledge Parks (GKPs) were shaped and governed by two frameworks: a 'need' to harness 'new genetics' and the relations of accountability as seen in the context of entrepreneurial government. The remit of the Cambridge GKP (CGKP) was to develop public health genetics by building on the concepts of partnership and interdisciplinarity. In the course of its work, the CGKP emphasized the virtues of 'change management', seen as distinct from, and opposed to, an academic model of knowledge production. However, the model that the CGKP actually created was a research/management hybrid that resisted quality assurance checks developed for each model (research and management), presenting a formidable challenge for the evaluation and assessment of the CGKP's work.

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Apartheid of Thought

The Power Dynamics of Knowledge Production in Political Thought

Camilla Boisen and Matthew C. Murray

In engaging with Lawrence Hamilton’s Freedom Is Power and its position in the lexicon of academic production from the Global South, this paper explores how Hamilton’s claim about institutions utilising idealised concepts that can have counterproductive social effects is also broadly observable in knowledge production itself. This paper draws in broad and brief terms how representation of ideas has been an issue at the heart of political thought historically before discussing how ideas from the South and other under-represented areas now serve to counter not just a hegemony of power but of ideas themselves. This is a necessary extension of the theory to consider, in order to have its desired effect as ideas are perquisites to actions. The paper also challenges the reader with their role in idealising the production of knowledge and the underlying social pressures and political power relations that shape the ideas that motivate ‘real’ political structures and institutions.

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Florian Krobb and Dorit Müller

Travel is a special form of human mobility that is subject to different historical conditions and one that, deliberately or not, always entails knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer. Travel facilitates the encounter with peoples, ideas, and material artifacts. In the age of Enlightenment, the nexus between travel and knowledge gained a new intensity, as the movement beyond the known turned into a specific scientific project with manifestations in theoretical reflection as well as literary practice. In the special section on Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer contributors from the fields of Literary and Travel Studies investigate how human mobility gains epistemic significance in the exploration of nature and foreign cultures. Th e articles focus on conditions and forms of knowledge production while traveling (itinerant knowledge). They analyze how observations, experiences, and reflections made on the move are molded and transformed in fiction and nonfiction, and they discuss the impact on European cultural and intellectual horizons.

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Sam Beck

The nature of capitalism in its neoliberal form is decreasing higher education’s exclusive domain of knowledge production by exposing students to and exploiting local knowledge production. This has created a paradox. Experiential learning is being supported as ‘academic’ because students learn skills, values and perspectives by engaging in communities of practice. Through community service learning and social justice oriented internships, students learn about emancipatory social movements while simultaneously providing their intellectual capital. Urban Semester Program students participate in the movement for affordable housing, with its origins in post-war Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where many Puerto Ricans settled. Engaged in a struggle against displacement, for self-determination and developing community sustainability by advocating and winning low and moderate income housing, residents are determined to remain in their neighbourhood. Students are engaged in this struggle and connect this exposure to their internships, and the globalising world economy, the role of the state, and corporate power.

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Introduction

Knowledge production and the politics of positionality in globalized and neoliberalized times

Graeme MacRae

This theme section seeks to keep alive important debates about the place of anthropology in the world that have been raised periodically since the 1970s, and most recently in a special issue of this journal entitled “Changing Flows in Anthropological Knowledge” (Buchowski and Dominguez 2012). The three articles in this theme section consider the place of anthropology in the university system, the building of a world anthropology, and the methodological challenges of the new conditions in which we work. All three critically address the interface and relationship between areas of changing power/knowledge and their relevance to the future of anthropology: both its place in the world and its contribution to the world.

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New Mobilities, Spaces, and Ideas to Market

European Travel Writers and the Making of a Genre—Comment

Steven D. Spalding

This comment on the special section “On Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer: Itinerant Knowledge Production in European Travel Writing” examines the section’s contributions in terms of the project called for in the section’s introduction. What new kinds of knowledge are produced in the context of the ever-increasing mobility of European travelers from the sixteenth century forward? What are the discursive conditions within which knowledge is constructed in and through travel narratives—including discourses of selves and others, of cultures and nations? How does mobility shape knowledge production, as narratives of journeys across the oceans develop into a full-blown genre with ever-greater stakes for travelers, readers, and nations? The four case studies in the special section offer insightful snapshots from the history of European travel writing—with a special emphasis on German authors—that resonate with major themes from travel writing studies and critical studies more generally, from Romanticism to the colonialist or imperial gaze.

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Expressive Resources

Knowledge, Agency and European Ethnology

Regina Bendix

Drawing examples from ethnic and popular music as well as from folk art, the paper explores the multivalence of expressive forms as local and European, even global aesthetic resources, whose territorial or ethno-national connection is - due to the power of aesthetic affect - but one among many possibilities of identification. It is argued first that the resource dimension of cultural expression has been furthered by the documentation and classification techniques of ethnological and folkloristic knowledge production, which in turn also facilitated circulation in multiple context. Second, the paper encourages that scholarship expand from recognising a political identification and instrumentalisation of aesthetic resources to understanding the economic appropriation of the production and consumption of such resources.

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Stefan Böschen

Envisioning strategies for sustainable development and its governance are knowledge-intensive processes. Against this background, conflicts about the correct form and actual validity of knowledge supporting sustainable development have arisen. What can be seen as evident-and what not? This article is based on the argument that there are differing modes creating evidence within “epistemic“ and “practice“ communities. Therefore, I propose to decipher knowledge production for sustainable development as processes of social experimentation in Dewey's sense. To do so, I introduce the concept of a “formative public“ for analyzing the cultural and institutional contexts of such processes. The argument is underlined by a focused description of the cases of chemical regulations and climate change politics. The findings support the argument that the politics of sustainable development has to elaborate guidelines and institutional structures for processing knowledge as a social experiment in order to resolve the conflicting ideas mirrored through differing accounts of the evidence.

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Peripheral vision as anthropological critique

How perspectives from the margins can illuminate the exploits of twenty-first-century global capitalism

Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka

In the context of rapid neoliberal reform, both anthropology as a discipline and the social and cultural phenomena it studies are undergoing profound changes. In this article we develop June Nash's concept of “peripheral vision” to show how peripheries, and the politics of “peripheralization”, can illuminate processes of neoliberalization and the implications that this has for anthropological knowledge production. We argue that anthropology is uniquely situated to examine the conceptual blind spots produced by capitalism. By recasting “peripheral vision” as an analytic concept and methodological tool, we show how cultivating our ethnographic sensibilities to identify and hone in on events and processes that lie beyond our immediate field of vision can provide a useful antidote to the seductive fantasies of contemporary capitalism. In doing so, we also suggest how this approach can help counter some of the increasing strictures on knowledge production and narrowing of the research imagination that neoliberal reforms impose.

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Robert Frodeman, Julie Thompson Klein, Carl Mitcham and Nancy Tuana

Over the course of the last six years, New Directions: Science, Humanities, Policy has taken a case-study approach to questions concerning the nature of knowledge production. Launched in 2001, New Directions promotes interdisciplinary collaborations where physical scientists, social scientists, and humanists work together with public science agencies, the private sector, and communities to deepen our understanding of and develop effective responses to societal problems. Two key elements characterize all New Directions projects. First, by involving the sciences, engineering, and the humanities, in dialogue with the public and private sectors, New Directions unites the two axes of interdisciplinary—the wide and the deep. Second, these experiments in interdisciplinary problem solving function as a means for thematizing the problem of the breakdown between knowledge production and use.