Roundtable - Late-Breaking
Reviewed by: AAA Late-Breaking Review Committee
Of interest to: Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Global environmental change
Secondary Theme: Science under attack
The Trump administration’s war on science was much in the news in Trump’s first year in office. It continues to rage. The Endangered Species Act is under attack. Emissions laws are being rolled back. Studies concerning toxic chemicals in drinking water and household products have been suppressed. From environmental policy to food and drug safety, administration officials have continued to block the recommendations of experts, while also impeding the functioning of scientific institutions and sundering their link to the public good. In response, scientists and outraged allies have demanded that scientific expertise and authority be upheld and respected. This roundtable invites participants to discuss anthropology’s relationship to scientific authority in the current political climate. Anthropologists and Science and Technology Studies scholars (STS) haven’t always sought to bolster scientific authority. In fact, much of the project of STS is rooted in the countercultural turn against the triadic relationship between science, industry, and the state. In a number of venues, STS scholars have therefore recently reckoned with their own potential role in unmooring “truth” and fomenting public mistrust. They have asked how their own scholarship relates to the current crisis of public reason, and explored ways of refashioning the relationship between STS and scientific authority. This roundtable seeks to translate this debate to anthropology, where some similar questions might be raised. It queries the relationship between anthropology and science, both past and present, and asks anthropologists to reflect on the current predicament of the scientist and the expert.