States of Knowledge

States of Knowledge: The Co-production of Science and the Social Order is a collection of essays edited and organized by Sheila Jasanoff. Sheila herself only writes the first two introductory pieces and then the final summary. This is key to realize because Sheila's wording is EXTREMELY convoluted. If you felt the entire book was going to be like this, you might give up in despair.

Sheila is fond of phrases such as:

"Some of the chapters in this volume address this problematic."

"And how thoroughgoing anyway is the unpredictability of mangling?"

It is as if she found a thesaurus and tried to figure out the most polysyllabic words she could stuff into a given sentence.

In addition, she will use examples in her essays which seem iffy - and then if you read her footer notes you find that even SHE finds them iffy. Why include them then? Why not include other examples which do not have these issues? She also makes statements - and as a reference for them she refers to her OWN content elsewhere - which is currently unpublished! So not only is she quoting herself, but she's quoting her own material that you can't go and read. Very curious.

But again, you just have to get past these introductory areas to move on to some incredibly interesting material. There are essays on how the ivory trade affected the governments in Africa. You learn about genetic modification of food in Europe. There are essays on climate change and on genetic research. I found the insights to be fascinating both on a theoretical "debate" kind of level as well as on a real world, 'how do we cope with these issues' level as well.

I recommend the book. It would be nice if the intro was not as off-putting, to help insure students did not choke and change their minds about a class before they got into the meat of the book.

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