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Inside Technology

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Beyond Imported Magic

Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America

Eden Medina

The essays in this volume study the creation, adaptation, and use of science and technology in Latin America. They challenge the view that scientific ideas and technology travel unchanged from the global North to the global South -- the view of technology as "imported magic." They describe not only alternate pathways for innovation, invention, and discovery but also how ideas and technologies circulate in Latin American contexts and transnationally. The contributors' explorations of these issues, and their examination of specific Latin American experiences with science and technology, offer a broader, more nuanced understanding of how science, technology, politics, and power interact in the past and present.The essays in this book use methods from history and the social sciences to investigate forms of local creation and use of technologies; the circulation of ideas, people, and artifacts in local and global networks; and hybrid technologies and forms of knowledge production. They address such topics as the work of female forensic geneticists in Colombia; the pioneering Argentinean use of fingerprinting technology in the late nineteenth century; the design, use, and meaning of the XO Laptops created and distributed by the One Laptop per Child Program; and the development of nuclear energy in Argentina, Mexico, and Chile.ContributorsPedro Ignacio Alonso, Morgan G. Ames, Javiera Barandiarán, João Biehl, Anita Say Chan, Amy Cox Hall, Henrique Cukierman, Ana Delgado, Rafael Dias, Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Mariano Fressoli, Jonathan Hagood, Christina Holmes, Matthieu Hubert, Noela Invernizzi, Michael Lemon, Ivan da Costa Marques, Gisela Mateos, Eden Medina, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Hugo Palmarola, Tania Pérez-Bustos, Julia Rodriguez, Israel Rodríguez-Giralt, Edna Suárez Díaz, Hernán Thomas, Manuel Tironi, Dominique Vinck

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Entangled Geographies

Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War

Edited by Gabrielle Hecht

Investigations into how technologies became peculiar forms of politics in an expanded geography of the Cold War.

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The Global Biopolitics of the IUD

How Science Constructs Contraceptive Users and Women's Bodies

Chikako Takeshita

The biography of a multifaceted technological object, the IUD, illuminates how political contexts shaped contraceptive development, marketing, use, and users.

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Greening Berlin

The Co-Production of Science, Politics, and Urban Nature

Jens Lachmund

How plant and animal species conservation became part of urban planning in Berlin, and how the science of ecology contributed to this change.

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Handling Digital Brains

A Laboratory Study of Multimodal Semiotic Interaction in the Age of Computers

Morana Alač

An analysis of how fMRI researchers actively involve their bodies--with hand movements in particular--in laboratory practice.

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Imperial Technoscience

Transnational Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India

Amit Prasad

The origin of modern science is often located in Europe and the West. This Euro/West-centrism relegates emergent practices elsewhere to the periphery, undergirding analyses of contemporary transnational science and technology with traditional but now untenable hierarchical categories. In this book, Amit Prasad examines features of transnationality in science and technology through a study of MRI research and development in the United States, Britain, and India. In an analysis that is both theoretically nuanced and empirically robust, Prasad unravels the entangled genealogies of MRI research, practice, and culture in these three countries. Prasad follows sociotechnical trails in relation to five aspects of MRI research: invention, industrial development, market, history, and culture. He first examines the well-known dispute between American scientists Paul Lauterbur and Raymond Damadian over the invention of MRI, then describes the post-invention emergence of the technology, as the center of MRI research shifted from Britain to the U.S; the marketing of the MRI and the transformation of MRI research into a corporate-powered "Big Science"; and MRI research in India, beginning with work in India's nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) laboratories in the 1940s. Finally, he explores the different dominant technocultures in each of the three countries, analyzing scientific cultures as shifting products of transnational histories rather than static products of national scientific identities and cultures. Prasad's analysis offers not only an innovative contribution to current debates within science and technology studies but also an original postcolonial perspective on the history of cutting-edge medical technology.

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Instrumental Community

Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology

Cyrus C. M. Mody

How networked structures of collaboration and competition within a community of researchers led to the invention, spread, and commercialization of scanning probe microscopy.

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The Long Arm of Moore's Law

Microelectronics and American Science

Cyrus C. M. Mody

Since the mid 1960s, American science has undergone significant changes in the way it is organized, funded, and practiced. These changes include the decline of basic research by corporations; a new orientation toward the short-term and the commercial, with pressure on universities and government labs to participate in the market; and the promotion of interdisciplinarity. In this book, Cyrus Mody argues that the changes in American science that began in the 1960s co-evolved with and were shaped by the needs of the "civilianized" US semiconductor industry. In 1965, Gordon Moore declared that the most profitable number of circuit components that can be crammed on a single silicon chip doubles every year. Mody views "Moore's Law" less as prediction than as self-fulfilling prophecy, pointing to the enormous investments of capital, people, and institutions the semiconductor industry required -- the "long arm" of Moore's Law that helped shape all of science. Mody offers a series of case studies in microelectronics that illustrate the reach of Moore's Law. He describes the pressures on Stanford University's electrical engineers during the Vietnam era, IBM's exploration of alternatives to semiconductor technology, the emergence of consortia to integrate research across disciplines and universities, and the interwoven development of the the molecular electronics community and associated academic institutions as the vision of a molecular computer informed the restructuring of research programs.

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Low Power to the People

Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism

Christina Dunbar-Hester

The United States ushered in a new era of small-scale broadcasting in 2000 when it began issuing low-power FM (LPFM) licenses for noncommercial radio stations around the country. Over the next decade, several hundred of these newly created low-wattage stations took to the airwaves. In Low Power to the People, Christina Dunbar-Hester describes the practices of an activist organization focused on LPFM during this era. Despite its origins as a pirate broadcasting collective, the group eventually shifted toward building and expanding regulatory access to new, licensed stations. These radio activists consciously cast radio as an alternative to digital utopianism, promoting an understanding of electronic media that emphasizes the local community rather than a global audience of Internet users.Dunbar-Hester focuses on how these radio activists impute emancipatory politics to the "old" medium of radio technology by promoting the idea that "microradio" broadcasting holds the potential to empower ordinary people at the local community level. The group's methods combine political advocacy with a rare commitment to hands-on technical work with radio hardware, although the activists' hands-on, inclusive ethos was hampered by persistent issues of race, class, and gender. Dunbar-Hester's study of activism around an "old" medium offers broader lessons about how political beliefs are expressed through engagement with specific technologies. It also offers insight into contemporary issues in media policy that is particularly timely as the FCC issues a new round of LPFM licenses.

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Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine

How Occupied Landscapes Shape Scientific Knowledge

Jess Bier

Maps are widely believed to be objective, and data-rich computer-made maps are iconic examples of digital knowledge. It is often claimed that digital maps, and rational boundaries, can solve political conflict. But in Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine, Jess Bier challenges the view that digital maps are universal and value-free. She examines the ways that maps are made in Palestine and Israel to show how social and political landscapes shape the practice of science and technology.How can two scientific cartographers look at the same geographic feature and see fundamentally different things? In part, Bier argues, because knowledge about the Israeli military occupation is shaped by the occupation itself. Ongoing injustices -- including checkpoints, roadblocks, and summary arrests -- mean that Palestinian and Israeli cartographers have different experiences of the landscape. Palestinian forms of empirical knowledge, including maps, continue to be discounted. Bier examines three representative cases of population, governance, and urban maps. She analyzes Israeli population maps from 1967 to 1995, when Palestinian areas were left blank; Palestinian state maps of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which were influenced by Israeli raids on Palestinian offices and the legacy of British colonial maps; and urban maps after the Second Intifada, which show how segregated observers produce dramatically different maps of the same area. The geographic production of knowledge, including what and who are considered scientifically legitimate, can change across space and time. Bier argues that greater attention to these changes, and to related issues of power, will open up more heterogeneous ways of engaging with the world.

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