Mittwoch, 17. Juni 2015, 17:30 - 19:00 iCal

Vienna STS Talk

presented by Kim FORTUN (Department of Science & Technology Studies, Renssealer Polytechnic Institute, USA)

Late Industrialism: Producing Inequalities

Department of Science and Technology Studies / Seminar Room / Staircase II / 6th floor (NIG)
Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien


Drawing on long-running anthropological research on the lived experience, science, and politics of toxic chemicals, this presentation will explore the dynamics of today’s “late industrialism.” Beginning in the mid-1980s, marked heuristically by the 1984 Bhopal disaster, late industrialism is characterized by both acute and chronic disaster, emergent from tightly coupled ecological, technological, political, economic, social and cultural systems, many of which are over-extended, fractured by serial retrofitting, and notably difficult to visualize, conceptualize and coordinate response to. Late industrialism is also characterized by over-extended paradigms and disciplines, and incredible imbrication of commercial interest in knowledge production, in legal decisions, in governance at all scales. It is a period riven with hazards of many kinds (epistemic, eco-technological, political), which operate synergistically and cumulatively, requiring keen attention to what can’t be accounted for within entrenched discursive regimes. Research on and in late industrialism thus poses particular challenges, calling for something beyond extant theories of modernity and postmodernity, biopolitics, empire, and risk society. This presentation will highlight how late industrialism produces new vulnerabilities, and new forms and patterns of inequality.

Kim Fortun is a cultural anthropologist and Professor of Science & Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research and teaching focus on environmental risk and disaster, and on experimental ethnographic methods and research design. Her research has examined how people in different geographic and organizational contexts understand environmental problems, uneven distributions of environmental health risks, developments in the environmental health sciences, and factors that contribute to disaster vulnerability. Fortun’s book Advocacy After Bhopal Environmentalism, Disaster, New World Orders was awarded the 2003 Sharon Stephens Prize by the American Ethnological Society. From 2005-2010, Fortun co-edited the Journal of Cultural Anthropology. Currently, Fortun is working on a book titled Late Industrialism: Making Environmental Sense, on The Asthma Files, a collaborative project to understand how air pollution and environmental public health are dealt with in different contexts, and on design of the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), an open source/access digital platform for anthropological and historical research. Fortun also runs the EcoEd Research Group, which turns ethnographic findings about environmental problems into curriculum delivered to young students (kindergarten-grade 12), and is helping organize both the Disaster-STS Research Network, and the Research Data Alliance’s Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group.


Department of Science and Technology Studies


Mag. Marion Kogler
Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung
+43-1-4277-496 01