Social Studies of Science. August 2008, 38(4)

Neuroscientists talk with their hands a lot. Alac observes and transcribes goings on: pointing and gesturing in relation to fMIR images and 'seeing' as an intersubjective accomplishment.

Delborne watches a scientific controversy (the apparent identification of Mexican maize containing transgenic DNA, despite a local moratorium). The release of their claims caused a general flap, and plenty of 'impedence'. Initially framing the dispute in agnostic technical and professional terms, Chapela eventually went dissident, bringing in an explicit politics tied to activists, the public, and claims of co-option and bias in his opponents.

Hong takes Bourdieu's scientific field and runs with it. The example is a Chinese isotope lab, where holders of theoretical and technological capital (think experiments, instrumentation and observation for the latter) are competing for influence in the wake of institutional changes.

Dean & Co. look at the politics of Antarctic data-sharing. A 1946-8 aerial survey by RARE, and a 1970s RES survey supply the comparison cases, lying either side of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. A detailed (and currently relevant) history of geopolitical and institutional issues around Antarctic data management and scientific collaboration.

de Poel looks at technological change in the Netherlands's sewerage treatment, via Abbott. There's a solid run through the history, focused on the jurisdictional claims of scientists and engineers. Building up stores of abstract knowledge and measuring up inefficiencies (often via new standards and metrics) were common power-plays, with civil engineers maintaining an over-all authority. Quite good.

The issue closes with an obit for Bernard Barber and Mary Douglas from Restivo & Dowty.