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Special Book Event: Hélène Mialet: HAWKING INCORPORATED

When Jan 31, 2014
from 12:30 PM to 02:30 PM
Where CSIS/STS Room, SSH 1246
Contact Name
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Please join the DHI Cluster "What does health mean today?", the Program in Science and Technology Studies and the Center for Science and Innovation Studies for a roundtable discussion of Dr. Hélène Mialet's book:


Francesco Panese (Associate Professor of Social Studies of Science and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Joe Dumit (Professor of Anthropology and STS, UC Davis), Jim Griesemer (Professor of Philosophy, UC Davis) and Warren Sack (Professor of Film & Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz) will present reflections on the book followed by a response by Hélène and Q & A from the audience.

Lunch will be served. Please RSVP by noon on Tuesday, Jan 28 at http://tinyurl.com/Mialet-Davis2014

Book Description: These days, the idea of the cyborg is less the stuff of science fiction and more a reality, as we are all, in one way or another, constantly connected, extended, wired, and dispersed in and through technology. One wonders where the individual, the person, the human, and the body are—or, alternatively, where they stop. These are the kinds of questions Hélène Mialet explores in this fascinating volume, as she focuses on a man who is permanently attached to assemblages of machines, devices, and collectivities of people: Stephen Hawking.

Drawing on an extensive and in-depth series of interviews with Hawking, his assistants and colleagues, physicists, engineers, writers, journalists, archivists, and artists, Mialet reconstructs the human, material, and machine-based networks that enable Hawking to live and work. She reveals how Hawking—who is often portrayed as the most singular, individual, rational, and bodiless of all—is in fact not only incorporated, materialized, and distributed in a complex nexus of machines and human beings like everyone else, but even more so. Each chapter focuses on a description of the functioning and coordination of different elements or media that create his presence, agency, identity, and competencies. Attentive to Hawking’s daily activities, including his lecturing and scientific writing, Mialet’s ethnographic analysis powerfully reassesses the notion of scientific genius and its associations with human singularity. This book will fascinate anyone interested in Stephen Hawking or an extraordinary life in science.

Biography: A PhD-trained scholar and writer with degrees from the Sorbonne and the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation de l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, Hélène Mialet’s research interests are in continental philosophy, science and technology studies, and social theory. She has held post-docs at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and positions at Cornell, Berkeley, and Harvard. Currently, Dr. Mialet is a visiting professor in STS at UC Davis (Jan - June). She has published widely on subjectivity, agency, innovation and cognition. Her first book is entitled L’Entreprise Créatrice (Paris: Hermès-Lavoisier, 2008), which is an ethnographic study of practices and processes of invention in an applied research laboratory in a multinational oil company (Total); this book was a finalist for the Prix ADVANCIA for the best book published in French on entrepreneurship and innovation in 2008. She is most recently the author of Hawking Incorporated (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), an ethnographic study of abstraction and formalism, focusing on the case of Stephen Hawking as a means of exploring larger questions about singularity, identity, distributed agency, subjectivity, corporeality and socio-technical networks. She is currently working on a new project concerned with the study of networks of knowledge production and expertise constituted by ‘laypersons’ (e.g., electronic lists organized around specific themes like parents of children with juvenile diabetes).

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