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Looking Further Afield August 25, 2008

Posted by Will Thomas in Uncategorized.
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What the heck is this stuff!?

What the!?

It seems like only yesterday that it was time to do the biannual roundup of physics-related articles for the AIP Center for History of Physics newsletter. Last time I did that, I fell privy to Harry Collins’ and Rob Evans’ exciting work in the sociological problem of expertise, and we’re hopefully revisiting that in September. This time, I was prompted to take a broader perspective on things because it struck me just how foreign a lot of what I was looking at was to my historiographical sensibilities. Specifically, I started considering the real need for this blog to look further afield for new ways for it to attack its mission of finding new and better ways to write history. Christopher’s posts will be of interest in this respect, because he spends a lot of time reading intellectual history as well as European and American history, and those perspective will show up as he continues to develop his historiographical world view in this space. My philosophy is: a little bit of an unabashedly good thing demands more.

Setting an agenda for future series of posts, I’ve been thinking about how much my work here is hampered by my own really very limited perspective on science studies from the HSS mainstream. Taking a skeptical and questioning attitude to the assumptions inherent in the literature that one reads will only get one so far. I think we’ve started to develop a nice descriptive language of common historiographical strategies, but to move forward we need to start amalgamating new and unexpected influences.

Therefore, what I’d really like to do is start up some correspondences, getting dispatches from various corners of the science studies world, and communicating them here. I’d definitely like to find journals aside from Isis to highlight, because I already find myself getting too repetitive. The philosophy of science literature, for instance, is looking pretty exciting to me at the moment, but I suspect this is just a little “grass is always greener” syndrome and that my fascination is mostly on account of the fact that it is just plain different from what I usually see.

The real goal will be to try and synthesize what is going on further afield into a larger, critical-historiographical picture of what’s interesting in the various sub-conversations that are now taking place. So, for the rest of 2008 and early 2009, we’ll from time to time be taking an exotic tour to the far corners of science studies and even areas beyond and I guess we’ll just see what turns up.

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