Science & Scandal: 2013

curiosity cabinet by suzanne norris copy

Huma is pleased to announce a special seminar series on Science and Scandal for the 1st semester in 2013. The seminars will take place on Mondays at 13h00 – 14h30 starting on 11 February with Tim Noakes.

This seminar series will provide a forum for researchers who are working on aspects of the contested politics of health and illness in South Africa and beyond. The theme of ‘science and scandal’ aims to animate interdisciplinary conversations – including among historians, sociologists, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, public health researchers and scientists – by holding an unfamiliar lens to familiar and challenging issues. Rather than focus directly, and predictably, on the authority of medicine, we want to shift the frame to the conditions that destabilize and limit that authority, during periods of public and/or professional skepticism and challenge. We’re interested in the conditions under which medical research or claims to knowledge become controversial, even scandalous; the forms the controversies take; and their wider effects.  Our approach is resolutely historical and contextual, and includes an interest in how medicine shapes popular imaginations and public spheres.

These issues are to be addressed through a research focus on a single event or case study, for instance in relation to medical controversies surrounding drugs such as thalidomide. However, projects will also explore these questions in relation to longer processes, developments and bioethical debates, such as doping in sport, the role of psychiatry in apartheid statecraft, and medical interventions to ‘resolve’ intersexed bodies.

This project draws on Huma’s themes, ‘On being human’ and ‘Circuits of consumption’, and aims to develop these in relation to new scholarship about health and illness within the humanities, social and health sciences.

For a detailed program of the seminar series click here.

11 February: 

‘The Prudent Diet for the prevention of heart disease is the single greatest medical scam of the past century, perhaps ever’
Tim Noakes (UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine)


18 February:

‘Agricultural Pesticides, Rodenticides and Childhood Poisoning: Rethinking agricultural science and human rights’
Susan Levine (Department of African Gender Studies, Linguistics and Anthropology, UCT) and Andrea Rother (Department of Public Health and Family Medicine,UCT)


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