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Materiality and Affect in Public Engagement with Science


This project builds on work which has examined the European move towards public engagement with science and technology, and the ways in which the practice of participation is inflected by the cultures which surround it. However, its starting point is that there are important dimensions of engagement which have so far been ignored within analysis. It takes as its focus public engagement as a material, affective process, rather than one which is solely oriented around, and constituted through, ‘reasoned discourse’. In investigating this it will explore two research questions, asking: How can public engagement be re-conceptualised as material and affective practice? And: How can public engagement be studied as material and affective practice? Alongside a range of community-building activities designed to stimulate and solidify this emergent field of research, it will comprise phases of theoretical and empirical research. Fieldwork will involve a case study approach operationalised at a number of different levels: first, by taking Denmark as an exemplar of European best-practice in science communication and participation; second, by using the presence of the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) in Copenhagen in 2014 as a focal point for the research; and third, by selecting a set of events or processes which exemplify key traditions within European engagement practice. As a whole it will apply contemporary social and political theory on the importance of materiality and affect to the study of science and society.

The project will enable the researcher to carry out a programme of innovative research at Copenhagen University, working with Maja Horst to develop new analyses of public participation with science and to solidify an emergent community of scholarship. Through a programme of research, practioner engagement, and interdisciplinary collaborative activities it will enable Davies to transfer knowledge from the USA to European scholarship in Science and Technology Studies.

Call for proposal

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Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 221 154,60
Administrative Contact
Maja Horst (Dr.)