Contentious Knowledge Seminars

October 27, 2010

The Diffusion of Social Movements: Actors, Mechanisms and Political Effects
Professors Rebecca Givan, Kenneth Roberts, Lance Compa, Ronald Herring, Valerie Bunce and Sidney Tarrow
4:30 pm., Cornell Store Book Department

April 17, 2007
Kick Off Lecture
Contentious Knowledge: Science, Social Science, & Social Movements 

4:30 p.m., 423 ILR Conference Center

Join us for the kick-off lecture for the ISS Contentious Knowledge Theme Project. As this research team looks to its second and most active year, Ken Roberts and Ron Herring, Team Leaders and Professors of Government, discuss the theme’s motivation, key research questions, specific research projects, and public activities.

September 4, 2007
Free Markets and Social Protest: The Contentious Politics of Technocracy in Latin America
Ken Roberts, Contentious Knowledge Team Leader and Prof. of Government
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

September 17, 2007  
Inclusion and Difference: Gender, Race and the New Biopolitics of Medical Research
Steven Epstein, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego
4:30 p.m., 374 Rockefeller
Co-sponsored with Science & Technology Studies

In the United States over the last two decades, a diverse set of advocates, experts, and policymakers have sought to reform medical research by making it more inclusive ­principally by including more women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, and the elderly as research subjects, and by testing for outcome differences across categories such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, and age. In this presentation, I describe how this distinctive way of thinking about bodies, identities, and differences gained supporters, took institutional form as law and policy, and become converted into common sense. I also consider some of its many consequences (intended and otherwise) for biomedical research, pharmaceutical drug development, “profiling” practices in health care, and scientific and cultural understandings of the meanings of sex and race. While defending certain aspects of the “inclusion-and-difference paradigm,” I argue that its emphasis on understanding group differences in biological terms makes it a problematic tool for addressing health inequalities.

September 18, 2007
A Conversation with Steven Epstein
Steven Epstein, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room

September 20, 2007
Public Forum on Science and Politics
The War on Science: What Have We Learned? 

4:00-6:00 p.m., 700 Clark Hall

A lecture by Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, followed by faculty panel and audience discussion. Panel members include:Kurt Gottfried, Physics; Ron Herring, Government; Steve Hilgartner, Science & Technology Studies; Ted Lowi, Government; Jon Shields, University of Colorado; and Janice Thies, Crop and Soil Sciences.

Chris Mooney’s book has documented increasingly intrusive partisan effects on the practice of science, and serious consequences thereof. The broader questions include relationships between science and state, government and scientists, and real effects of distorted knowledge or ignorance. Beyond partisan science, how inevitable is the intertwining of science and politics given the embedded nature of science in society?

This forum is featured in the Provost Seminar Series and is co-sponsored by the Ben and Rhoda Belnick Fund for Government Studies at Cornell.


September 25, 2007 

Scientific Uncertainty & Precautionary Action: Can We Learn from the Ozone Case as We Prepare for Climate Change?
Karen Litfin, Prof. of Political Science, University of Washington
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

The 1987 Montreal Protocol and its subsequent amendments represent a shining success story in environmental diplomacy. The international community, including scientists, governments and industry, took precautionary action to avert disaster, leading to a global phaseout of the most powerful ozone depleting chemicals. In contrast, climate diplomacy is moving at a glacial pace, even as the rapid melting of the world’s glaciers gives new meaning to the concept of glacial change. What, if anything, might we learn from the ozone success story as we face the greater challenge of climate change.

October 1, 2007 
At the Waterside of the Innovation Stream: On the Meaning of Upstream Engagement in Life Sciences/Biomedicine
Ulrike Felt, Social Studies of Science, University of Vienna
4:30 pm, 374 Rockefeller Hall
Co-sponsored with Science & Technology Studies

Recent discussion about public engagement in the field of life sciences/biomedicine has focused on the need to move the conversation further “upstream.” Earlier engagement in the innovation stream would allow for more timely discussion of the values, visions, and vested interests that motivate technoscientific endeavour. Drawing on observations made in two recent research projects (a participatory experiment in the field of obesity-related genomics research & a comparative European project on public perceptions of biomedical technologies), I will discuss how people participate in and construct their assessments of biomedical knowledge and technologies and what is at stake for them in the governance of biomedicine.

October 4-6, 2007
Knowledge in Contention: Social Movements & the Politics of Science 
423 ILR Conference Center

In this workshop we seek to establish a working intersection between two communities of scholars: those focused on social movements and contentious politics and those focused on social studies of scientific knowledge.

October 16, 2007 
Commodifying What Nature? The Cochabamba Water War and the Cycle of Protest in Bolivia, 2000-2005
Susan Spronk, Contentious Knowledge Team Visiting Scholar
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

Water privatization in Latin America serves an important case study of technocratic policy making. Beginning in the 1990s, international financial institutions such as the World Bank began to promote privatization as the best way to reform ailing public utilities. As high profile mobilizations against multinational water companies such as the Cochabamba “Water War” in 2000 suggest, however, water privatization has been one of the most controversial aspects of neoliberal policy. This presentation will analyze how different social movement actors in Bolivia, confronted with the government’s water privatization policies and the conditional lending practices of international financial institutions, have sought to resist the privatization of water and build democratic alternatives at the local level, focusing on the case studies of Cochabamba and El Alto.

October 23, 2007
Mapping Migrant Rights Frames: Comparative Views 
Maria Cook, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Prof. of International and Comparative Labor
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

Prof. Cook will discuss her preliminary efforts to “map” migrant rights frames in use by advocates in the U.S., internationally, and in selected national/regional sites. Do advocates draw upon similar or divergent assumptions, values, and “expertise” in affirming the rights of unauthorized migrants? What accounts for these similarities and differences? The goal is to understand what motivates migrant advocacy groups, as well as the prospects for diffusion of migrant rights frames in different national settings.

October 30, 2007
Making Nike Do It: Contentious Politics and Corporate Social Responsibility
Sarah Soule, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Prof. of Sociology
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

This talk will be about some of the ways that activists target corporations, including a discussion of different tactics and different frames used by activists when targeting firms. Using data on protests collected from the New York Times, the talk will examine the effect of protest on investor perceptions of a firm as made evident through abnormal stock price returns ­ an indicator of stock price reaction to a focal event. Results show that protest is associated with a decline in stock price of targeted firms, likely through its ability to impose costs on the firm and undermine a corporation’s image

October 31, 2007
Sustainability Cinema
Bullshit (a documentary directed by Pea Holmquist and Suzanne Khardalian, with Vandana Shiva)
Post-screening critique: Ron Herring, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Prof. of Govt.
7:00 p.m., Williard Straight Theatre
Admission: $6.50 general/$5 seniors/$4 students

This documentary is a compelling portrait of controversial Indian environmental activist and nuclear physicist Vandana Shiva, who has worked against the likes of Monsanto and Coca-Cola to rein in globalization, outrageous patenting, genetic engineering, and bio-piracy, while fighting for indigenous knowledge. Ron Herring will offer a post-screening critique of some of Shiva’s claims.

November 9-10, 2007
Workshop on Contentious Knowledge and the Diffusion of Social Protest 
423 ILR Conference Center

This workshop, free and open to the public, explores themes at the intersection of knowledge, science, and social movements, with a focus on diffusion processes and dynamics.

November 13, 2007
Use and Abuse of Experimental Data and Scientific Advisors in Environmental Regulatory Frameworks
Janice Thies, Contentious Knowledge Team Member & Prof. of Crop & Soil Sciences
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

November 20, 2007
Scientific Risk, Market and Food Sovereignty: Contested Criteria in Genetically Modified Food Policy Processes
Kyoko Sato, ISS Postdoctoral Associate
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

Kyoko Sato’s work explores the processes through which different policy frameworks toward genetically modified food emerged in the US, Japan, and France. She analyzes how changes in the meanings of genetically modified food, the shift in the locus of expertise, and political mobilization all interacted with and shaped each other, leading to distinct national policy developments. Kyoko Sato was awarded a Ph.D. in sociology by Princeton University.

November 26, 2007
Populism, the Mass Media, and Social Movements in Ecuador
Carlos de la Torre, Chair of Political Studies, FLACSO-Ecuador
2:00-4:00 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

November 27, 2007
Professional Knowledge and Political Power? California Nurses from the Workplace to the Touch Screen 
Becky Givan, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Prof. of Collective Bargaining
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

The California Nurses Association has become a major political actor, with influence far beyond the workplace. Its decade long battle to introduce legal minimum  nurse-patient ratios into California hospitals culminated in the implementation of a new law in 2004.  Professor Givan will present a preliminary framework for understanding the influence, credibility and battles of the California Nurses through a contentious knowledge lens.
January 24, 2008
Interspecies Co-Production and Other Interventions 
Beatriz da Costa, Professor of Arts Computation Engineering, UC Irvine
4:30 p.m., Kaufman Auditorium, Goldwin Smith HallBeatriz da Costa will provide a brief overview of her recent work addressing air pollution and environmental justice. As an interdisciplinary artist and researcher, da Costa is particularly interested in the role an artist might occupy when operating at the intersection of art, science and activism. Her PigeonBlog project is a collaborative project between homing pigeons, artists, engineers and pigeon fanciers engaged in a grassroots scientific data gathering initiative designed to collect and distribute information about air quality conditions. A current related project entitled AIR (a project by Preemptive Media)enables interested humans to build and design their own air pollution sensing devices and find out more about the air quality condition in their own neighborhoods. In 2006, together with biologist Tau-Mu Yi, she attempted to design carbon monoxide sensitive yeast cells expressing color upon exposure to ambient air elevated carbon monoxide concentrations. da Costa will discuss these and other projects, exemplifying her attempts to bridge disciplinary discourses and practices in the pursuit for social change.
January 25, 2008 
A Conversation with Beatriz da Costa 
Beatriz da Costa, Professor of Arts Computation Engineering, UC Irvine
9:30-11:00 a.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall) This informal seminar is an opportunity for the public to discuss Beatriz da Costa’s recent research with her. Pastries will be served. 

January 28, 2008
Hybrid Intellectuals: Think Tanks and Public Policy Experts in the United States
Tom Medvetz, ISS Postdoctoral Associate
4:30 p.m., 374 Rockefeller Hall
Sponsored by Science and Technology StudiesFebruary 1, 2008
Graduate Fellow Research Workshop 
Various Seed Grant recipients will present their projects
12:00-5:00 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)February 4, 2008
Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy
Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, Maryland
4:30 p.m., Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
Co-sponsored with the Peace Studies Program, Development Sociology, Center for the Environment, and the Department of Government. February 8, 2008
Textbook Controversies Workshop
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., 423 ILR Conference Center
Please email socialsciences@cornell.edu to RSVP for the complimentary lunch.

Public controversies over textbooks, curricular reform, and school policies highlight the domain of education as an important arena of civil engagement. Education in the social sciences, such as history and politics, have provoked important debates about whether education is intended to integrate students, encouraging them to conform to particular community or national standards, or whether education is intended to provide students with an ability to be critical of their larger societies. These vociferous debates have pitted concerned parents, educators, legislators, and state-appointed officials against one another, with each constituency mobilizing particular groups and interests. This workshop focuses on episodes of political jockeying over what constitutes appropriate knowledge for public education, particularly for school-age children. The papers will consider how knowledge becomes contentious through these disputes, whose interests are served, and how public education might best promote and critique civil society.

February 8, 2008
Maria Cook, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Prof. of International & Comparative Labor 
Advocacy Networks and Global Migration
3:00 p.m., Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall
Sponsored by Architecture, Art, and Planning February 12, 2008
Social Science in Litigation
Valerie Hans, Professor of Law, Cornell
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)February 19, 2008
From Deprivation to Dependency: Think Tanks in the American Welfare Debate, 1958-1996 
Tom Medvetz, ISS Postdoctoral Associate
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

This paper examines the public debates surrounding poverty and welfare policy from the period just prior to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to the passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).  I argue that the proliferation of think tanks and other heteronomous knowledge producers was the central structural transformation facilitating the discursive shift that established “dependency” and “personal responsibility” as the core problems of welfare reform, the narrow symbolic confines within which policymakers worked to achieve policy solutions in the 1990s.  This transformation operated through a kind of market mechanism.  The development of a “buyer’s market” in policy-knowledge ensured that politicians could select among an array of expert pronouncements that carried the imprimatur of social scientific authority, while supplying little challenge to the conservative orthodoxy that defined poverty as a product of deviance or cultural pathology.  The analysis shows that as think tanks advocated particular positions in the welfare debate, they reinforced their structural location in a space of discourse that served as a buffer and an antidote against more independently produced social science.

March 4, 2008
The Epistemology of Contentious Knowledge: Deforestation in Madagascar
Jacques Pollini, Natural Resources
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

Using as a case study the analysis of conflicting narratives about environmental degradation in Madagascar, I argue that contentious knowledge is favored by a lack of epistemological clarification in the debates at stake, and that the settlement of controversies can be more easily achieved by adopting Popper’s negativist epistemology. Once this is achieved, scientific and ethical aspects can be distinguished and it becomes easier to design policies on solid scientific ground.
March 11, 2008 
GMO: Authoritative Framing and its Discontents
Ron Herring, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Professor of Government
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)How did we get to a world of simultaneous proliferation of  “GMO-free zones” — from California to Thailand — and rapid adoption of  “GM” technology in nations rich and poor? Why are there FrankenFoods but no FrankenInjections? This global cognitive rift is not North-South, nor East-West, but cuts across regions, sectors, and applications. Patterns of diffusion of recombinant DNA technologies and reciprocal diffusion of oppositional politics derive from a peculiar construction of the “GMO,” subsequently reified by international soft law, segregated patterns of trade and regulation, and transnational activist networks.
March 25, 2008
Transnational Diffusion in Electoral Revolutions in Post Communist Eurasia
Valerie Bunce, Professor of Government
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)From 1996-2005, eight elections took place in postcommunist Europe and Eurasia that led to the replacement of dictators with leaders of the liberal opposition. The process began in Romania and Bulgaria and then moved to Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the diffusion of these pivotal elections by addressing three questions. What was the model being diffused? Why and how did it move from place to place? Finally, why were there “gaps” in the diffusion of electoral change—for example, the failure of oppositions in Armenia and Azerbaijan to copy the successes of their counterparts elsewhere in the region? April 1, 2008
Folk Economics at the Border: Image, Ideology, and Asymmetry

Kristen Maher, Professor of Political Science, San Diego State University
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)The economies of neighboring cities San Diego and Tijuana are deeply interdependent, and yet many residents on the San Diegan side of the border imagine the relationship as much more asymmetric, even parasitic.  Using photographs from the two cities as prompts for conversation in qualitative interviews, this study examines the “folk economics” underlying popular perceptions in San Diego.  What ideological commitments or identity projects are at work, and what do they make possible politically? April 8, 2008
Federal Nutrition Guidelines and the Creation of Productive Bodies 
Kelly Moore, Professor of Sociology, University of Cincinnati
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)Government nutrition guidelines are well understood to be means of enjoining citizens to produce material bodies with specific relationships to systems of governance and consumption.  Using 1933 and 2005 federal food guidelines, I demonstrate that guidelines also seek to create citizens who apply scientific ideas and practices to the creation of gendered bodies with specific relations to systems of family and non-family production.April 15, 2008

Who Speaks for the People? And How?: Reflections from the
American Founding 
Jason Frank, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Professor of Government
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)April 22, 2008
The Union of Concerned Scientists: Four Decades at the Intersection of Science and Politics 

Kurt Gottfried, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Cornell
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)
April 25-26, 2008
Biotechnology Contentions Workshop
229 ILR Conference CenterAmong the most contentious strands of  knowledge in the contemporary world is that surrounding transgenic organisms: “GMOs” in popular parlance. These products of genetic engineering have been presented in global politics as promising a significant improvement in the human condition or threatening its extinction. This workshop will look specifically at contestation of authoritative claims in the global debate: bioproperty, biosafety, biopolitics. How have social movements deployed authoritative knowledge to back their positions and legitimate their standing? How is science interjected into the contention; what difference does science make?  What has been the basis of operative authority? How has framing of genetic engineering and its products affected regulatory science and national politics in different world regions? How does the GMO debate fit into other strands of the international movement confronting globalization? The point of the workshop is to understand the strands of contention empirically, not to itself generate contention.April 29, 2008
Intellectual Property and the Politics of Emerging Technology: Inventors, Citizens, and Powers to Shape Futures
Stephen Hilgartner, Contentious Knowledge Team Member and Prof. of S&TS
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)Expanding public debate surrounding intellectual property raises the question of whether the foundations of IP policy remain adequate for managing the new, visible politics of decision making in this realm. Are the prevailing conceptual frameworks and institutions underlying patent policy showing signs of losing the ability to convincingly render decision making in this realm into a matter of law, administration, and expert judgment? This paper argues that there is a mismatch between traditional intellectual property doctrine and the new politics of intellectual property. To examine its nature, I contrast two policy discourses that both appear in contemporary debate about intellectual property: the traditional discourse, which focuses on innovation policy, and a newer, less clearly codified discourse that views intellectual property issues from the perspective of the politics of technology. This latter discourse focuses on the challenges of democratic governance in societies where emerging technologies and emerging politics are everywhere intertwined. The traditional discourse still dominates policy discussion, a fact that has inspired some ingenious efforts to squeeze concerns about technology and democracy into the traditional innovation framework. To treat these dimensions of the current debate as separate, as this paper does, admittedly entails glossing over some complexities. Nevertheless, parsing the issues into these two perspectives is a useful heuristic device. In particular, recognizing the specific features of the politics-of-technology perspective—and presenting its distinctive vision of what is at stake in intellectual property—clarifies the struggles now in play. The paper begins by introducing each policy discourse in turn, then compares them systematically, examining how each views the nature of technological change, the powers that patents convey, the roles of inventors and citizens, and the criteria for evaluating policy. My discussion will focus on patent policy, but similar issues arise in relation to copyright in some contexts. May 6, 2008 
The Banks and the Beltway: Three Decades of Washington Politics and World Development
Sarah Babb, Professor of Sociology, Boston College
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)International financial institutions (IFIs) are often denounced or even demonized for the policies they promote in developing countries.  And yet, the IFIs’ policies are not developed in an organizational vacuum, but rather respond to forces in their environment–on the one hand, to currents and conventional wisdoms among economists and other policy experts, and on the other hand, to the demands of the “shareholder” governments that finance and control them.  The United States is the leading shareholder of the multilateral development banks, a group of IFIs that includes the World Bank and a cluster of regional development banks.  This talk, based on my forthcoming book, is about how American politics has shaped the banks’ activities since the 1970s, and thereby played an important role in shaping conventional wisdoms about economic development.

May 6, 2008
Climate Change Conference: Making the Connections
Sponsored by The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
8:30-noon, Kennedy Hall AuditoriumThe intent of the mini-conference is to help build bridges across disciplines and departments, to let faculty and staff know what each other are doing and to create the possibility for more collaboration, a necessary step to give Cornell a higher profile in this important area with policy-makers, the public, and potential funding agencies. The conference will consist of a panel discussion covering assessment, adaptation, mitigation, communication and policy and other relevant topics followed by breakout sessions for faculty to provide input and brainstorm around identified topic areas for potential collaboration.September 3-5, 2008
Messenger Lecture Series: After Enlightenment: Rethinking Science’s Place in Democracy
This series’ speaker is sponsored by the Messenger Lecture Program and was nominated by the ISS Contentious Knowledge Theme Project.

September 3
Messenger Lecture 1: The Wisdom of Strangers 
Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard 4:30 p.m. Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

September 4
Messenger Lecture 2: Law’s Knowledge
Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard 4:30 p.m., Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

September 5
Messenger Lecture 3: Getting the Right World
Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard 4:30 p.m., Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

September 25, 2008
Geopolitics of Energy
Professor Michael Klare, Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, Author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet and Blood and Oil
Lecture: 4:15 book signing, 4:30 Lecture, Bache Auditorium, 228 Malott Hall
Film: Blood and Oil, 7:00 p.m., Cornell Cinema, Willard Straight Theatre, $3 Admission.
Sponsored by the Society for the Humanities, LaFeber Fund, Institute for the Social Sciences, History Department and Government Department 

October 3-5, 2008 
Places of Knowledge: Relocating Science, Technology, and Medicine
This conference is sponsored by the Department of Science & Technology Studies and funded in part by the ISS Contentious Knowledge Theme Project.

In recent years, a number of scholars working under the broad rubric of Science & Technology Studies have sought to move beyond the field’s traditional focus on scientific practice carried out by credentialed experts in labs and clinics in the industrialized world. In this conference, we seek to put in dialogue analyses addressing technoscience in colonial and postcolonial contexts with work on artisanal knowledge, citizen science, and other forms of knowledge and sites of practice. Themes will include the nature of skills and practices in colonial and postcolonial contexts, methods of professionalization, and the production of traditional and modern places of knowledge as well as the discourse between them.

October 23, 2008 
Scientists in Highly Politicized Debates 
Roger Pielke, Professor in Environmental Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder
4:30 p.m., 374 Rockefeller Hall

Scientists face choices in how they relate to decision makers.  Such choices are of particular importance in highly politicized contexts such as on environmental, biomedical, and national security issues.  Further, the ability of scientists to shape their relationship with decision makers may be constrained by how decision makers seek to use (and sometimes misuse) scientists for political gain.  This talk will explore these issues with a focus on how experts can constructively serve the needs of democratic decision making.

February 13, 2003
Liberalism Without State or Nation
Miguel Centeno, Department of Sociology and International Affairs, Princeton University
12:15-1:30 p.m., G08 Uris Hall
Co-sponsored with Latin American Studies Program, Department of Government and Department of Sociology 

March 23, 2009
Between Geopolitics and Science Studies 

Andrew Barry, School of Geography, Oxford University Centre for the Environment
4:30 p.m., 374 Rockefeller Hall

In this presentation I consider the politics of a particular form of knowledge controversy: namely a controversy which centres on the actions of states themselves and involves the work of experts in politics and international relations. The focus of the presentation is on the politics of oil in Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as the conduct of foreign interventions in the region. In particular, I interrogate Euro-American efforts both to foster civil society, to manage controversies concerning the relations between the oil economy and the conduct of states, and to address the problem of the ‘resource curse’. More broadly, the paper considers what science studies might have to contribute to the study of geopolitics, and vice versa.



March 24, 2009
A Conversation with Andrew Barry
Andrew Barry, School of Geography, Oxford University Centre for the Environment
12:00-1:30 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

This informal seminar is an opportunity for the public to discuss Prof. Barry’s research with him. Lunch will be served.

April 10, 2009
NGO Politics, Transnational Brokers and Contentious Knowledge
12:00-5:00 p.m., ISS Conference room (146 Myron Taylor Hall)

12:1:30 p.m. NGO Politics and Knowledge Claims
Volker Heins, Visiting Fellow, Yale University 
(with commentary by Richard Bownas)

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have become a familiar fixture of our political landscape. Yet their place in global-local struggles over norms and knowledge in a variety of fields is still not well understood. In this presentation, I offer a discussion of recent theoretical approaches as well as my own perspective on NGOs which focuses not so much on NGOs as normative innovators but on their role as producers and brokers of knowledge. I also argue that it is wrong to interpret the prominence and impact of globally active NGOs as symptoms of an “end of sovereignty” or the rise of a post-Westphalian world order. NGOs are forces within international society that, far from undermining sovereign statehood, often contribute to its resilience.Volker Heins is a senior fellow at the Institute for Social Research, Frankfurt University, and currently a visiting fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology (CCS) at Yale University. He is the author most recently of Nongovernmental Organizations in International Society: Struggles Over Recognition [New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2008].

1:45 – 3:00 p.m. NGOs, INGOs and Farmers’ Movements in India: Opportunities and Costs of Transnational Mobilization 
Richard Bownas, Government, Cornell

This presentation will examine how GM crops have become a beacon for some groups of activists and NGOs involved in farmers’ issues in India. I look at the confluence of interests and ideologies that made this possible, and, based on this analysis, raise questions about the modes of ‘recognition’ that ‘global civil society’ or ‘transnational activist networks’ are capable of. Commentary by Ron Herring, Professor of Government, ISS Team Co-director, Volker Heins, Yale University and Neema Kudva, City and Regional Planning, Cornell.

Richard Bownas is a PhD Candidate, Department of Government and recipient of ISS Contentious Knowledge Theme Project funding for field research in India on the politics of NGOs and GMOs.

3:00 – 5:00 General Discussion of NGO Politics

April 22, 2009
Democracy and Authoritarianism in Latin America, 1945-2008
Scott Mainwaring, Department of Political Science, Notre Dame University
12:15-1:15 p.m. 153 Uris Hall
Co-sponsored with LASP 

April 27, 2009
The Development and Problems of China’s NGOs
Li Lifan, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
1:30 p.m., White Hall 106
Sponsored by the: Cornell University Government Department,
China Asia-Pacific Program (CAPS); East Asian Program (EAP); and the
Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS).

April 29, 2009 
Clientilism as Persuasion and as Mobilization
Susan Stokes, Department of Political Science, Yale University
12:15-1:15 p.m., 153 Uris
Co-sponsored with LASP 

April 29, 2009
Capstone Lecture
Contentious Knowledge: Science, Social Science and Social Movements
4:30-6:00 p.m., 423 ILR Conference Center

Join us for this lecture that brings this theme project to a close. Team leaders and team members will describe the accomplishments of the project thus far and discuss future research activities.