Thursday, March 15, 2018

Yasmin_discussions Digest, Vol 6, Issue 1

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Today's Topics:

1. Re: Science for the People (YASMIN DISCUSSIONS)


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2018 12:04:45 -0400
Subject: Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Science for the People
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed

Dear YASMIN community,

Thank you so much for inviting Science for the People (SftP) to
participate in an online conversation with you all! And I apologize for
the difficulty we've had keeping up the conversation. I think the
problem is just timing (especially the technical glitch that pushed the
conversation back). Since we held the first convention of the
revitalized SftP in the first week of February, people who participated
have been just flooded with SftP-related emails and have been very
occupied with the work of building on that convention to place the new
structures in place so that we can move forward as an organization.

What I can offer now are a few observations on the convention and an
update on where we seem to be going, with the hope that others will
chime in more as well.

The convention was held on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of
Michigan, and it brought together people from all over the US along with
a representative from Mexico City and a scholar from Hong Kong who spoke
on the food sovereignty movement in China.

Ann Arbor was not only one of the major centers of the original Science
for the People (noted especially, then and now, for its production of
radical agro-ecologists -- it is still a hub for the New World
Agriculture and Ecology Group, an outgrowth of SftP). It was also the
campus where acclaimed radical mathematician Chandler Davis
<> was dismissed from his
faculty position for refusing to cooperate with the McCarthy-era House
Unamerican Activities Committee, which persecuted those, like Chandler,
associated with or suspected of association with communism. Chandler
joined us for the convention -- an honor and tremendous source of
inspiration we had not anticipated when the convention organizing first

Another highlight of the convention for me was a session with two
reports on Chiapas. The first was by John Vandermeer, who has already
posted a comment on this two weeks ago. The second was by Dianne
Rocheleau (feminist geographer recently retired from Clark University)
who Skyped in from Chiapas and offered a complementary perspective. I
was especially intrigued by their different perspectives on how the
Zapatistas view the relationship between modern science and traditional
forms of knowledge. Consistent with John's earlier post on this list, in
his presentation at the convention, John emphasized the calls made by
leading members of the Zapatistas for "real science" or "scientific
science" -- as opposed to what many outsiders more critical of science
seem to come to Chiapas wanting to talk about. Dianne, on the other
hand, said that she encountered more diversity of perspective on this
question, with some people emphasizing the contempt for anything
smacking of "pseudoscience" that John highlighted, while others seem to
care deeply that modern science engage respectfully with forms of
indigenous knowledge. I hope I am representing what John and Dianne said
accurately -- if not, John at least can correct me! In any case, the
exchange reinforced for me a point that I think will remain one of the
most important areas of friendly debate for people in the radical
science movement as we move forward: the significance of "indigenous"
and/or "traditional" knowledge in our critical (but by no means
"anti-scientific") analysis of modern science.

On a related note, SftP's publications committee is putting together a
pamphlet that we plan to have available for the March for Science in
April. It will cover, among other things, "aspects of modern science
that are worth defending/upholding" and "aspects of modern science that
should be critiqued/attacked/dismantled." To stimulate thoughtful
consideration of these questions, the pamphlet organizers are
encouraging SftP chapters to consider this excerpt from the late,
notable SftP leader Dick Levins as a jumping-off point. I'll close by
quoting that selection, with the thought that it might stimulate
conversation on YASMIN as well!

_Richard Levins, "Ten Propositions on Science and Anti-Science," 1996_

It has proven very difficult for contemporary thought to deal with
the dual
nature of science as an episode in the growth of human knowledge in
and as the class-, gender-, and culture-bound product of Euro-North
American capitalism in particular. Various movements have seized
upon the
one or the other aspect of science to conclude either that, despite
its imperfections,
science is the only way to progress or that, despite its achievements,
science is basically mystification and domination, an enemy of
freedom and

Both scientism and modem antiscience are one-sided. This is not the same
as ?extreme,? the ultimate reproach of liberal criticism. ?Extreme?
as its preferred opposite ?moderate,? a solution with the
implication that the
truth is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, or ?not all
black or white, but
some shade of grey,? an optimal middle ground defined by the
extremes that
are rejected. ?One-sided? is used in Marxist criticism as an opposite of
dialectical, a failure to see the contradictory nature of all processes.



(Sigrid Schmalzer,


On 02/24/2018 08:32 PM, YASMIN DISCUSSIONS wrote:
> Thanks to Roger and the YASMIN admin team for hosting this discussion, to our invited specialist commentators (welcome!), and to all members of the list for taking the time to read along and/or engage with this dialog!
> As we are all amply aware, scientists, science-oriented-artists, and the public at large have extremely obvious, sound, and urgent reasons to defend and exalt science in general. At the same time, as interdisciplinary practitioners, we may be uniquely positioned to examine and critique underlying systems of power and the cooptation of scientific knowledge by commercial and militaristic interests.
> Science for the People (SftP)<> has been addressing these issues for decades. All of this discussion's invited Specialist Commentators are part of the newly re-formed SftP?one of them belonged to the original group that formed in the late 1960s.
> While it would be very interesting to hear about ways members of the YASMIN list have been engaging in ?radical science? (confronting social issues within the context of your practice), the primary question I propose we begin with is one that has been previously alluded to on this list:
> Is a new scientific method ? or an addendum or supplement to the standard one ? that contains ethical tenets necessary? What would it look like? How would it be implemented?
> I have pasted a few references below that have informed my own thinking on the subject. I look forward to your responses!
> With best wishes and hopes that we can all find ways to transmute current socio-political absurdities into meaningful, constructive action!
> Alyce Santoro
> @alyceobvious<>
> RELATED READING. I hope that others will feel compelled to add to this list?along with your responses, if supporting materials come to mind, please do include them!
> ***HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: The brand new Science for the People: Documents from America?s Movement of Radical Scientists<> edited by Sigrid Scmalzer, Daniel S. Chard, and Alyssa Botelho***
> "Toward the Renewal of Science"<> by Richard Levins (Rethinking Marxism, Volume 3, Number 3-4, Fall/Winter 1990) ? thanks to John Vandermeer for this recommendation!
> The Dialectical Biologist<> by Levins/Lewontin
> Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory<> edited by Carolyn Merchant
> Goethe?s Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature<> edited by Henri Bortoft and Arthur Zajonc
> The Wholeness of Nature:?Goethe's Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature<> by Henri Bortoft
> -----------
>> Message: 2
>> Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:09:39 -0600
>> <>
>> Subject: [Yasmin_discussions] yasmin discussion Science for the People
>> Message-ID:
>> < <>>
>> we have good news, thanks to the hard work of Dimitris Charitos the list is now
>> up again on the cloud and we are pleased to announce the promised discussion
>> on Science for the People: Radical Science for the 21st Century.
>> The discussion will be moderated by Alyce Santoro and myself.
>> the science for the people organisation just held a convention
>> <>
>> if you attended we encourage you to tell us about it
>> Alyce and Roger
>> Science for the People: Radical Science for the 21st Century.
>> In the late 1960s through late 1980s, scientists unwilling to
>> contribute to the development of technologies that pollute, oppress,
>> and destroy, or to research tainted by military, political, and
>> corporate interests, were organizing around the questions Why are we<>scientists? For whose benefit do we serve? What is the full measure of<>our moral and social responsibility<>?. Members of Science for the<>People (SftP)<> (sometimes referred to more generally as the radical
>> science movement) were dedicated to crafting a science that is
>> ethical, egalitarian, and cooperative, and were committed in their own
>> work to research that above all serves the health of humans and the
>> environment.
>> Science for the People is currently being revitalized by scientists
>> and scholars on college campuses across the US.Science for the<>People: Documents from America?s Movement of Radical Scientists<>, a
>> brand new anthology of historical material, is fresh off the presses.
>> The second annual SftP National Convention<> took place at the
>> University of Michigan from February 2-4, 2017.
>> A bit more background:
>> Don't Just Defend Science, Mobilize It for the People<>: While science
>> is under attack, it could be an opportunity to advance a much stronger
>> vision of how it can serve the common good, writes Sigrid Schmalzer:
>> Which Way for Science?<> A statement by the SftP editorial team on the
>> occasion of the April 2017 March for Science
>> __________
>> Lisette E. Torres is a disabled mother-scholar-activist of color
>> dedicated to critically examining the intersections of race, gender,
>> disability, and science identity and how they impact knowledge
>> production and STEM. She is a former aquatic ecologist, a member of
>> Science for the People, and a co-founder for the National Coalition
>> for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD).
>> <>
>> <>
>> Abha Sur is a scientist turned historian of science. She is the author
>> of Dispersed Radiance: Caste, Gender, and Modern Science in India (New
>> Delhi: Navayana, 2011). She teaches in the Program in Women's & Gender
>> Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.
>> Abha Sur is a longstanding member of the Alliance for a Secular and
>> Democratic South Asia, a Cambridge based organization that raises
>> awareness about issues of social justice through seminars, panel
>> discussions and cultural events.
>> John Vandermeer is a theoretical ecologist, agroecologist and tropical
>> ecologist, who teaches at the University of Michigan and does research
>> in Michigan, Mexico and Puerto Rico. He was a long term member of the
>> original SftP, having been at the Chicago AAAS meetings where at least
>> one of the beginnings of the organization is reported to have
>> happened. He also is a founding member of the New World Agriculture
>> and Ecology group, an offshoot of SftP.
>> Ben Allen is a scientist, educator, and labor activist in east
>> Tennessee. He is an organizer for the revitalized Science for the
>> People and is member of the Science for the People Research
>> Collective. In addition to organizing, he works as a contractor on
>> computational biology projects related to energy and environment.
>> Alyce Santoro is a conceptual/sound artist and writer with a
>> background in biology and scientific illustration. She will be a
>> candidate in RISDs new Nature-Culture-Sustainability MA program
>> starting in fall 2018. <>
>> Yasmin Moderators:
>> Alyce Santoro and Roger Malina
> _______________________________________________
> Yasmin_discussions mailing list

Sigrid Schmalzer
Professor, History Department
University of Massachusetts Amherst

/Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist
(University of Chicago Press, 2016)

/Science for the People: Documents from America's Movement of Radical
Scientists/ <>
(University of Massachusetts Press, 2018)

/Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu
Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming/
(Tilbury House, 2018) -- picture book


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