Following Latour’s call for studying “science in action,” this panel investigates the ways that scientific and legal forms of knowledge production are paired in order to encourage legal compliance and corresponding changes in cultural practices. Given mounting evidence of the toll that extractive capitalism takes on human bodies and non-human entities, such as animals and the natural environment, we attend in particular to the connections between legal expertise and scientific knowledge production in contexts relating to the regulation of industries marked by practices of capital extraction. These settings include natural resource-based industries, such as oil and mineral mining, forestry, agriculture and aquaculture, wildlife harvesting, as well as natural resource-dependent forms of manufacturing.
In doing so, this panel combines research in legal anthropology, practice theory, and science and technology studies in order to interrogate how knowledge production exists in tension between different legal, scientific, and regulatory regimes. Science and law can both seem logical and rational to outside observers, yet actual practice is often messy and incoherent (Latour and Woolgar 1986). In this panel, we look at the messiness of knowledge production, focusing on the conflicts between legal and scientific knowledge, the tensions between techno-scientific regulatory frameworks and how they are applied in practice, and the ways scientific and legal practice inform one another.
Papers based on fieldwork in all world regions are welcome. Questions this panel seeks to address are: What role does scientific knowledge play in shaping the law’s function as an engine of social change? In what ways do scientific and legal bodies of knowledge shape one another, and with what effects on labor, labor practice, and interactions with the non-human elements of economic production? How might techno-scientific regulatory regimes exist in tension with the lived realities of scientific knowledge production in practice, particularly in contexts where the ideals of public discourse can come into conflict with local livelihoods?
If you are interested in participating, please send your abstract (≤250 words) by April 1, 2018, to Amy Field (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Gregory Kohler (email@example.com). We will notify selected participants by Friday, April 6. If your submission is accepted, kindly register for the conference on the AAA website by Monday, April 16.