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Rank #75 in Social Sciences category

Science
Social Sciences

New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

Updated 29 days ago

Rank #75 in Social Sciences category

Science
Social Sciences
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Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

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Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

15 Ratings
Average Ratings
9
2
1
2
1

iTunes Ratings

15 Ratings
Average Ratings
9
2
1
2
1

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

Latest release on Jan 22, 2021

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 29 days ago

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Rank #1: David Sepkoski, "Catastrophic Thinking: Extinction and the Value of Diversity from Darwin to the Anthropocene" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

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We live in an age in which we are repeatedly reminded—by scientists, by the media, by popular culture—of the looming threat of mass extinction. We’re told that human activity is currently producing a sixth mass extinction, perhaps of even greater magnitude than the five previous geological catastrophes that drastically altered life on Earth. Indeed, there is a very real concern that the human species may itself be poised to go the way of the dinosaurs, victims of the most recent mass extinction some 65 million years ago.

How we interpret the causes and consequences of extinction and their ensuing moral imperatives is deeply embedded in the cultural values of any given historical moment. And, as David Sepkoski reveals, the history of scientific ideas about extinction over the past two hundred years—as both a past and a current process—is implicated in major changes in the way Western society has approached biological and cultural diversity. It seems self-evident to most of us that diverse ecosystems and societies are intrinsically valuable, but the current fascination with diversity is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, the way we value diversity depends crucially on our sense that it is precarious—that it is something actively threatened, and that its loss could have profound consequences. In Catastrophic Thinking: Extinction and the Value of Diversity from Darwin to the Anthropocene (University of Chicago Press, 2020), Sepkoski uncovers how and why we learned to value diversity as a precious resource at the same time as we learned to think catastrophically about extinction.

This interview was conducted by Lukas Rieppel, a historian of science and capitalism at Brown University. You can learn more about his research here, or find him on twitter here.

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Jan 22 2021

49mins

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Rank #2: Anna L. Tsing, "Feral Atlas: The More-than-human Anthropocene" (Stanford UP, 2020)

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Do you feel lost in the Anthropocene? Would you like a map to chart your way through our changing world? How about an atlas? Well, the Feral Atlas Collective has something that might help you out. In this episode Anna Tsing, an anthropologist from U.C. Santa Cruz, tells us about the Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene

Feral Atlas is one of the most unusual book projects that I have seen or been a part of (it includes my “field report” about colonial era sewer rats in Hanoi). It is a digital book published by Stanford University Press in 2020 and can be accessed for free here

Exploring Feral Atlas is like taking a walk on the wild side as there is no structured or required way to enter into its various conversations. Instead, you are invited to explore at your own risk. There are luminary essays by Sven Beckert, Amitav Ghosh, Gabrielle Hecht, Karen Ho, Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, David M. Richardson, and Will Steffen; field reports by dozens of scholars from the humanities and sciences; and art ranging from video to poetry to music. Informative and thought-provoking, alternately humorous and emotionally gut wrenching, and provocative in both form and content, Feral Atlas invites you to go wild.

Anna Tsing is a professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her numerous books include In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place (1993) Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2005) and The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015). She has received far too many awards to list here but they include Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies, the Victor Turner Award, and a Guggenheim. The Feral Atlas Collective is composed of: Jennifer Deger: a visual anthropologist, filmmaker, and research leader at James Cook University, as well as the president of the Australian Anthropological Society; Alder Keleman Saxena: an environmental anthropologist at Northern Arizona University who examines the relationships linking agricultural biodiversity to human food cultures; Feifei Zhou: an artist and architect who explores ecological and cultural preservation through architectural interventions; and my guest, Anna Tsing.

Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.

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Jan 22 2021

51mins

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Rank #3: R. A. Woldoff and R. C. Litchfield, "Digital Nomads: In Search of Freedom, Community, and Meaningful Work in the New Economy" (Oxford UP, 2021)

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In the space of a few weeks this spring, organizations around the world learned that many traditional, in-person jobs could, in fact, be performed remotely. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, some individuals were already utilizing new options for personal mobility and online work to strike out on their own.

In the new book, Digital Nomads: In Search of Freedom, Community, and Meaningful Work in the New Economy (Oxford UP, 2020), Rachael A. Woldoff and Robert C. Litchfield examine the growing demographic of individuals disaffected by the daily grind of office work who have left the U.S. and Europe to work remotely from low-cost global hubs around the world. These “digital nomads” seek out communities of like-minded unconventional people—what they call a tribe—in places like Indonesia, Thailand, Colombia, Mexico, or Portugal. Taking advantage of advancements in mobility, technology, and telecommunication, digital nomads are venturing around the world in search of a new way of living and working.

Through dozens of interviews and several stints living in a digital nomad hub in Bali, Indonesia, Woldoff and Litchfield show why digital nomads leave their conventional lives behind, arguing that the creative class and Millennial workers, though successful, often feel that “world class cities” and desirable jobs are anything but paradise. Digital Nomads follows these new workers through their transitions into freelancing, entrepreneurship, and remote work, and explains how digital nomads create fluid, intimate communities abroad.

Complete with a preface that addresses how COVID-19 is inevitably changing the landscape of work, Digital Nomads offers insight into the new ways people are balancing freedom, work, community, and creative fulfillment in the digital age.

Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.

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Jan 21 2021

1hr 46mins

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Rank #4: Lenny A. Ureña Valerio, "Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities: Race Science and the Making of Polishness on the Fringes of the German Empire, 1840-1920" (Ohio UP, 2019

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In Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities: Race Science and the Making of Polishness on the Fringes of the German Empire, 1840-1920 (Ohio University Press, 2019)Lenny Ureña Valerio offers a transnational approach to Polish-German relations and nineteenth-century colonial subjectivities. She investigates key cultural dynamics in the history of medicine, colonialism, and migration that bring Germany and Prussian Poland closer to the colonial and postcolonial worlds in Africa and Latin America. She also analyzes how Poles in the German Empire positioned themselves in relation to Germans and native populations in overseas colonies. She thus recasts Polish perspectives and experiences, allowing new insights into identity formation and nationalist movements within the German Empire.

Crucially, Ureña Valerio also studies the medical projects and scientific ideas that traveled from colonies to the German metropole, and vice versa, which were influential not only in the racialization of Slavic populations, but also in bringing scientific conceptions of race to the everydayness of the German Empire. As a whole, Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities illuminates nested imperial and colonial relations using sources that range from medical texts and state documents to travel literature and fiction. By studying these scientific and political debates, Ureña Valerio uncovers novel ways to connect medicine, migration, and colonialism and provides an invigorating model for the analysis of Polish history from a global perspective.

Lenny A. Ureña Valerio received her BA in history at the University of Puerto Rico and her PhD in Central/East European history from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her dissertation, “The Stakes of Empire: Colonial Fantasies, Civilizing Agendas, and Biopolitics in the Prussian-Polish Provinces, 1840-1914,” was awarded the Distinguished Dissertation Award in Polish Studies by the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (PIASA) in 2010.

Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities is the winner of the 2020 Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies and honorable mention for the 2020 Heldt Prize for the best book by a woman in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies, awarded by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies.

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Jan 20 2021

52mins

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Rank #5: Andrew Jewett, "Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America" (Harvard UP, 2020)

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Americans today are often skeptical of scientific authority. Many conservatives dismiss climate change and Darwinism as liberal fictions, arguing that "tenured radicals" have coopted the sciences and other disciplines. Some progressives, especially in the universities, worry that science's celebration of objectivity and neutrality masks its attachment to Eurocentric and patriarchal values. As we grapple with the implications of climate change and revolutions in fields from biotechnology to robotics to computing, it is crucial to understand how scientific authority functions--and where it has run up against political and cultural barriers.

Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America (Harvard UP, 2020) reconstructs a century of battles over the cultural implications of science in the United States. Andrew Jewett reveals a persistent current of criticism which maintains that scientists have injected faulty social philosophies into the nation's bloodstream under the cover of neutrality. This charge of corruption has taken many forms and appeared among critics with a wide range of social, political, and theological views, but common to all is the argument that an ideologically compromised science has produced an array of social ills. Jewett shows that this suspicion of science has been a major force in American politics and culture by tracking its development, varied expressions, and potent consequences since the 1920s.

Looking at today's battles over science, Jewett argues that citizens and leaders must steer a course between, on the one hand, the naïve image of science as a pristine, value-neutral form of knowledge, and, on the other, the assumption that scientists' claims are merely ideologies masquerading as truths.

Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.

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Jan 19 2021

41mins

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Rank #6: L. Ferlier and B. Miyamoto, "Forms, Formats and the Circulation of Knowledge: British Printscape’s Innovations, 1688-1832" (Brill, 2020)

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Forms, Formats and the Circulation of Knowledge: British Printscape’s Innovations, 1688-1832 (Brill, 2020) explores the printscape – the mental mapping of knowledge in all its printed shapes – to chart the British networks of publishers, printers, copyright-holders, readers and authors. This transdisciplinary volume skilfully recovers innovations and practices in the book trade between 1688 and 1832. It investigates how print circulated information in a multitude of sizes and media, through an evolving framework of transactions. The authority of print is demonstrated by studies of prospectuses, blank forms, periodicals, pamphlets, globes, games and ephemera, uniquely gathered in eleven essays engaging in legal, economic, literary, and historical methodologies. The tight focus on material format reappraises a disorderly market accommodating a widening audience consumption.

Louisiane Ferlier, Ph.D. (2012, Université Paris Diderot), is the Digital Resources Manager at Centre for the History of Science at the Royal Society. She has published articles on John Wallis, the Bodleian Library and cross-Atlantic circulation of books.

Bénédicte Miyamoto, Ph.D. (2011, Université Paris Diderot), is Associate Professor of British History at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3. She has published on eighteenth-century drawing manuals, sales catalogues and art markets.

Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is Lecturer in Early Modern European History at King’s College London. She tweets at @timetravelallie.

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Jan 19 2021

1hr 2mins

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Rank #7: Rob DeSalle, "A Natural History of Color: The Science Behind What We See and How We See it" (Pegasus Books, 2020)

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Is color a phenomenon of science or a thing of art? Over the years, color has dazzled, enhanced, and clarified the world we see, embraced through the experimental palettes of painting, the advent of the color photograph, Technicolor pictures, color printing, on and on, a vivid and vibrant celebrated continuum. These turns to represent reality in “living color” echo our evolutionary reliance on and indeed privileging of color as a complex and vital form of consumption, classification, and creation. It’s everywhere we look, yet do we really know much of anything about it? 

Finding color in stars and light, examining the system of classification that determines survival through natural selection, studying the arrival of color in our universe and as a fulcrum for philosophy, DeSalle’s brilliant A Natural History of Color: The Science Behind What We See and How We See it (Pegasus Books, 2020)establishes that an understanding of color on many different levels is at the heart of learning about nature, neurobiology, individualism, even a philosophy of existence. Color and a fine tuned understanding of it is vital to understanding ourselves and our consciousness.

Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.

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Jan 13 2021

1hr 4mins

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Rank #8: M. Nestle and K. Trueman, "Let's Ask Marion: What You Need to Know about the Politics of Food, Nutrition, and Health" (U California Press, 2020)

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Marion Nestle describes her new book as “a small, quick and dirty reader for the general audience” summarizing some of her biggest and most influential works. Let’s Ask Marion: What You Need to Know About the Politics of Food, Nutrition, and Health published September 2020 by University of California Press, was written in conversation with Kerry Trueman, a blogger and friend. Trueman’s questions served as prompts to organize Nestle’s 800-1000 word summaries in approachable and engaging prose. Readers familiar with Nestle’s groundbreaking Food Politics will recognize many of the ideas and information, but this new pocket-sized and affordable volume serves as an introduction for undergraduate students or readers new to Food Studies. However, Nestle does cover some new material in her explanation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially the campaign for Zero Hunger. Nestle also summarizes how nutrition advice has changed in the last few years by thinking about food in categories ranging from unprocessed (corn on the cob) to ultraprocessed (Nacho Cheese tortilla chips). This reevaluation makes it easier to identify foods that are acceptable to eat without excessive focus on micronutrients. In the conversation, Nestle addresses the ethics of marketing food to children, food as a human right and access in the Covid era, the possibility of a National Food Policy Agency, the politics of food banks, and the promise of regenerative agricultural practices. Nestle concludes by talking about the pleasures of food and eating and how to establish a “loving relationship” with food that doesn’t include fear, guilt, or anxiety about nutrition. 

 Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, and the author of books about food politics, most recently Unsavory Truth.

Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.

Lindsay Herring is a first-year M.A. Food Studies Candidate at Chatham University. She loves historical cookbooks, food policy and activism through history, and vegan baking. Personally, she enjoys theatre, singing and traveling (someday again!).

Archish Kashakar is a chef and culinary educator who is currently a second-year M.A. Food Studies Candidate at Chatham University. He works with the program’s research offshoot CRAFT as a Food Lab Graduate Consultant and also serves on the board of the Graduate Association of Food Studies as a Social Media Manager. He is currently working on his thesis that traces the history of Singaporean street food dishes and their development in a post-World War II era. Follow on Twitter @archishkash.

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Jan 13 2021

52mins

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Rank #9: Kyle Johannsen, "Wild Animal Ethics: The Moral and Political Problem of Wild Animal Suffering" (Routledge, 2020)

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Many sentient (or possibly sentient) wild animals follow a reproductive strategy whereby they have large numbers of offspring, the vast majority of which suffer and die quickly or suffer and die slowly. Either way, there is a huge amount of suffering in the wild. And it is a truism in ethics that we have a duty to alleviate or prevent unnecessary suffering. If we could intervene in nature to prevent this suffering, shouldn’t we? 

In Wild Animal Ethics: The Moral and Political Problem of Wild Animal Suffering (Routledge, 2020), Kyle Johannsen argues that we do have this duty. On his view, the value of unspoiled nature only conflicts with botched interventions, not effective ones, and we already do intervene in ways that help wild animals, such as through rabies vaccinations intended primarily to protect domesticated animals. But through gene editing we could do quite a bit more – create a 3-week window from birth where newborns do not suffer from pain, or even turn carnivores into herbivores. Johannsen, an adjunct assistant professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, offers a savvy and provocative discussion of this relatively neglected issue of animal welfare, along with some recommendations on how we can address it.

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Jan 11 2021

1hr 10mins

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Rank #10: Snezana Lawrence, "A New Year's Present from a Mathematician" (CRC Press, 2019)

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It would be simple enough to say that mathematics is being done, and that those who do it are mathematicians. Yet, the history and culture of the mathematical community immediately complicate these statements. In her book A New Year's Present from a Mathematician (CRC Press, 2020), Snezana Lawrence guides a tour of European mathematical history that broadens conventional ideas of who mathematicians are and what we do. Framed as journey across the desert out from Alexandria, the book recounts a vignette from European mathematical history anchored to each month of the year, as drops of creativity and wisdom to sustain the trek.

It is not unusual for books on the history of mathematics to tell very human stories about their often famous subjects. What is remarkable about Lawrence's collection is the breadth of these stories: Her subjects were idealists, pragmatists, mystics, skeptics, radicals, ascetics, and collectives. (Contrast, for example, the self-aware spite of Isaac Newton with the defiant good humor of Jean-Baptiste d'Alembert.) They contributed a mix each of original study, stewardship, and education. (Witness the precocious and persistent advocacy of Maria Agnesi and the devoted reciprocity of Johannes Kepler.) And they may or may not have been considered in their time, or even considered themselves, mathematicians.

This book also showcases the diversity of mechanisms through which mathematics is transmitted and expanded. The projects undertaken by Lawrence's subjects are inspired by surviving ancient texts, popular treatments, and personal correspondence, and they yielded instructional texts, organizational schema, reference works, and popular fiction still in circulation today. The book drove home for me that the history of mathematics is ultimately a history of dialogue, and one that any person has the potential to contribute to—and thereby to be a mathematician.

Suggested companion work: "Interstellar" (dir. Christopher Nolan)

Snezana Lawrence is a mathematical historian, with a particular interest in the links between mathematics, architecture, and the belief systems related to mathematics. Her work on the creativity, identity, and engagement in the learning of mathematics has taken her to be involved in national and international initiatives to promote the use of the history of mathematics in mathematics education. She maintains the website Maths Is Good For You! and tweets @snezanalawrence.

Cory Brunson is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida.

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Jan 08 2021

55mins

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