New lecture series explores links between natural sciences, humanities

Science, Power, and Difference, a new lecture series at Bates College, will present innovative research into the social, cultural and political dimensions of the natural sciences. Except as noted below, lectures will be held at 4:10 p.m. at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, Campus Avenue. Admission is free and the public is invited.

The six lectures in this winter-semester series explore ways in which scientific knowledge and practice are tied to social or political disparities.

“Given the increasing prominence of the sciences in all of our lives,” says series co-organizer Rebecca Herzig, “it pays to ask questions about them in new ways.” An assistant professor in the women and gender studies program at Bates, Herzig planned the series with Associate Professor of Mathematics Bonnie Shulman.

Presented by leading scholars from across the United States, topics in the series include:

the relationship between the burgeoning Hindu nationalist movement and the scientific establishment in India;

the involvement of global politics and corporate power in genetic science;

and a new look at American motivations for bringing young women disfigured in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the so-called “Hiroshima Maidens,” to the United States for plastic surgery.

The series serves two goals, says Herzig. First, it furthers the college’s drive to cross traditional disciplinary borders. In particular, the series strengthens the relationship between scientists and humanists at the college.

Second, “Science, Power, and Difference” showcases the academic community’s growing interest in viewing science through the lenses of history, philosophy, anthropology and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Here’s the series schedule:

Tuesday, Jan. 21: Alternate Modernities or Archaic Modernities? Science in the Age of Religious Nationalism, by Banu Subramaniam, Program in Women’s Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Tuesday, Jan. 28: Globiolization: Genomic Capital, Technology Transfer, Pharma-Politics and India Inc., by Kaushik Sunder Rajan, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Thursday, Feb. 6: The Story Catches You and You Fall Down: Tragedy, Ethnography, and ‘Cultural Competence, by Janelle Taylor, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington.

Tuesday, Feb. 25: Reconstructing the Hiroshima Maidens: Cosmetic Surgery and Cultural Imperialism, by David Serlin, Department of Social Sciences, Bard Early College.

[NOTE TIME] 6:10 p.m. Monday, March 3: Science and Values: A Feminist Perspective, by Helen Longino, Program in Women’s Studies and Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota.

Monday, March 10: Crack, Abortion, the Culture of Poverty, and Welfare Cheats: the Making of the ‘Healthy White Baby Crisis, by Laura Briggs, Department of Women’s Studies, University of Arizona.

Series sponsors are the Mellon Learning Associates Program in the Humanities, the Dean of the College, Sigma Xi, the medical studies committee, the departments of anthropology and biology, and the programs in African American studies, American cultural studies and women and gender studies.

For more information about the series, please call 207-786-8296 or look online at

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