Bates to host conference on the Caribbean and the Americas

A group of Bates, Bowdoin and Colby college faculty and students, joined by a colleague from the University of the West Indies, will gather to participate in a day-long conference and roundtable, Scientific Knowledge, Culture and Political Economy: The Caribbean and The Americas from 9 a.m. through 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 4, in Chase Hall Lounge on Campus Avenue at Bates College. The public is invited to attend free of charge. The gathering explores the relationship between power and the production of knowledge in social, political, cultural and scientific institutions. Rather than assume a coherent and seamless narrative of “knowledge” in the social and natural sciences and the humanities, conference organizers will explore social, cultural and scientific discourses to explore the inherent “truths” they are said to represent.

The panels will be organized around several themes: the political economy of social and environmental sciences, scientific knowledge and discourses of difference, modernity and medicine and natural vs. national science.

Michelle Rowley, assistant lecturer in the gender and development studies program, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad, will deliver the keynote address “Border Conversations: Interrogating the Seams of Science” at 3:15 p.m. A roundtable discussion, moderated by Rowley, will follow the talk.

The conference begins at 9 a.m with introductory remarks, followed by the first panel, “The Political Economy of Social and Environmental Sciences. Participants include Bates senior Bradley Wilson, on “Producing Sustainable Coffee”; Rachel Narehood Austin, assistant professor of chemistry and environmental studies, Bates College, on “A Post-Modern Approach to Assessing Environmental Risk: Gauging the Human Health Risks Posed by Lead Exposure”; and Lillian Guerra, assistant professor of history, Bates College, on “Cuba, Cubans and the Harvard Summer School for Cuban Teachers: Making a Science of Civilization.”

The second panel, “Natural/National Science, Modernity and Medicine,” begins at 11 a.m. Panelists are Scott MacEachern, associate professor of anthropology, Bowdoin College, on “Genes, Tribes and African History”; Susan Bell, professor of sociology, Bowdoin College, on “Sexuality, Culture and Social Change: Connecting ‘Women’; and ‘Science’ in Microbicide Research”; and Kiran Asher, assistant professor of political science and women’s studies, Bates College, on “The ‘Global Environment’ Discourse and Biodiversity Research in Columbia.”

Following a break for lunch, the third 90-minute panel, “Scientific Knowledge and Discourses of Difference,” begins at 1 p.m. with Anindyo Roy, assistant professor of English, Colby College, on “Labor Visibility and the Colonial Apparatus: The Case of Leonard Woolf”; NeEddra James, a Bowdoin College religion major, on “Imaging and Imagining the Black Female Subject in 19th-Century Anthropology”; and Patricia J. Saunders, assistant professor of English, Bowdoin College, on “Those Who Insist on Be(Come)Ing: Anthropology and the Task of Translating Identity for Caribbean Subjects.

The 3:15 p.m. keynote address and roundtable discussion will be followed by a 90-minute reception at the Benjamin Mays Center. For more information, call 207-786-6472 or 207-725-3670.

The conference is sponsored by the Women and Scientific Literacy Project; the political science department, the environmental studies program and the Office of the President at Bates College; The Hewlett Group; and the English department at Bowdoin College.

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