Friday, February 21, 2014

News from the Beach (and Mzuzu) Wonk edition

-So we opened up Joy's Place at the end of January, nearly a month now and its going great!  The local community both in Mzuzu and the Northern Region generally have really supported us and we are so thankful for that.  Check us out on facebook at  The webpage is still in the works so stay tuned.  Joy's Korean cooking, and recently the introduction of beautiful deserts made by our lovely Austrian baker friend Barbara, have really been a hit.  Come on by!

-Our new intern at the Maru, Kelsey, has just finished her dive certification and is hard at work learning to identify the beautiful cichlids of Lake Malawi in preparation for contributing to our underwater Population and Biodiversity surveys.  Keep up the good work!

- And now for a bit of wonk.

So every couple months or so I dive back into the academic journals and read, fairly randomly, articles from my fields of study, namely Science and Technology Studies, Environmental History and History of Science.  Yesterday I fell upon this article by Dan Kleinman and Sainath Suryanarayanan in the journal of Science, Technology, and Human Values entitled "Dying Bees and the Social Production of Ignorance."  I had heard about CCD (colony collapse disorder) from general news outlets and was interested to get an academic perspective on the issue.  I'll admit that I haven't read up enough on the "ignorance" literature off of which the article riffs, (its next on my list) but at first glance I'm not impressed.  Its seems to be a pretty crude attempt to bring traditional leftist politics into STS analysis through the backdoor.  Not that there is anything wrong with such politics.  I'm a fan of it on many levels.  But one of the strengths of STS analysis, from my perspective of course, is how good it can be at avoiding capture by political ideologues.  The moment it becomes a political tool I think it looses credibility.  We've seen before during the "Science Wars" what can happen when STS scholarship and scholars get mired in emotionally and politically charged debates based on (mis)understandings of what STS claims and exposes.  What a waste of time all that was.  I hope STS isn't returning to those days.