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Impure cultures. Interfacing science, technology, and humanities, edited by Massimo Mazzotti and Giuliano Pancaldi, 2010, 252 pp.

This volume documents the early activity of the Bologna doctoral program in Science, Cognition, and Technology by collecting work-in-progress essays by some of its graduate students and by some of their colleagues based at the University of Exeter.

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Massimo Mazzotti: Introduction. Impure cultures: interfacing science, technology, and humanities / Jan Cherlet: STS and political ecology in dialogue: future directions for a social study of environmental controversies / Daniela Crocetti: From hermaphroditism, to intersex and disorders of sex development (DSD): shifting terminology and shifting meaning / Massimiliano Pagani: Crime, race, and national identity from liberal to fascist Italy / Matteo Serafini: Innovation in regional context: the case of Emilia-Romagna / Armando Caracheo: Joyce and the spatio-temporal map of “Ulysses” / Marco Liverani: Science and the building of Europe / Andrea Grignolio: Science ladies on stage / Giuliano Pancaldi: Afterword. Purification rituals: reflections on the history of science in Italy / Notes on contributors / Index of names

From the Introduction:
“For one thing science studies – an interdisciplinary field of study that explores the interaction of technoscience with other areas of social and cultural life – is now a consolidated and mature academic field, which bears increasingly upon science policy decisions. In fact, when compared to the rest of the humanities and the social sciences, science studies appears to be in rather good shape. This field has, for example, passed relatively unscathed through the critical phase of the “post-ims”. Emerging fields like cultural and postcolonial studies have not challenged the methods and goals of science studies – quite the contrary: their agendas have been largely perceived as related and mutually reinforcing. Also, the obvious and ever-increasing relevance of its object of study – technoscience as defined by scientists – has spared science studies the endless soul-searching that one can observe in other neighboring disciplines. Last but not least, its association with the sciences has been thus far beneficial in terms of funding. Just to give an example, in the United States science studies scholars and historians of science can apply for grants to the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that supports all fields of fundamental science and engineering – the so-called STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In addition to these structural considerations, the current fortune of science studies seems also to depend on some characteristic features of this field, such as its being a space whose boundaries are not strictly pre-determined nor policed - i.e., on its programmatic disciplinary impurity. Science studies construes its objects as essentially hybrid, borrowing methods and skills from a variety of disciplines. Initially they were mostly borrowed from the history, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology, but some recent developments have rather emphasized the connections with the study of law and with other areas of the humanities, such as literary criticism, media studies, and visual studies. As argued by Mario Biagioli, fostering a stronger alliance between science studies and the humanities could indeed serve the dual purpose of enriching further our understanding of technoscientific practices while enhancing the overall relevance of the humanities in the academic arena.” (M. Mazzotti)