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

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




Ben Green, "The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future" (MIT Press, 2019)

The “smart city,” presented as the ideal, efficient, and effective for meting out services, has capture the imaginations of policymakers, scholars, and urban-dweller. But what are the possible drawbacks of living in an environment that is constantly collecting data? What important data is ignored when it is not easily translated into 1s and 0s? In his new book, The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future, critical data scientist Ben Green, an Affiliate...


Daniel Kennefick, "No Shadow of Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity" (Princeton UP, 2019)

Daniel Kennefick talks about resistance to relativity theory in the early twentieth century and the huge challenges that faced British astronomers who wanted to test the theory during the solar eclipse of 1919. Kennefick is an associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He’s the author of No Shadow of Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (Princeton University Press, 2019). Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at Hillyer...


James Schwartz, "The Ethics of Space Exploration" (Springer, 2016)

The Ethics of Space Exploration (Springer, 2016), edited by James S. J. Schwartz and Tony Milligan, aims to contribute significantly to the understanding of issues of value (including the ultimate value of space-related activities) which repeatedly emerge in interdisciplinary discussions on space and society. Although a recurring feature of discussions about space in the humanities, the treatment of value questions has tended to be patchy, of uneven quality and even, on occasion,...


Jessica Lynne Pearson, "The Colonial Politics of Global Health: France and the United Nations in Postwar Africa" (Harvard UP, 2018)

International organizations throw up several obstacles—their immense scale, their dry bureaucratic language—to the historian trying to piece together their past. In her book, The Colonial Politics of Global Health: France and the United Nations in Postwar Africa (Harvard University Press, 2018), Jessica Lynne Pearson steers clear of these obstacles and tells a captivating and consequential story about the relationship between global governance and empires. And that is no small feat. The...


Rachel Louise Moran, "Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique" (U Penn Press, 2018)

How did the modern, American body come into being? According to Rachel Louise Moran this is a story to be told through the lens of the advisory state. In her book, Governing Bodies: American Politics and the Shaping of the Modern Physique (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), she tracks the emergence of the American advisory state -- a key analytic introduced and developed by the author in this book -- and draws attention to polyvalence of bodies as both instruments and objects of public...


Alice Hill, "Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption" (Oxford UP, 2019)

Climate change impacts-more heat, drought, extreme rainfall, and stronger storms-have already harmed communities around the globe. Even if the world could cut its carbon emissions to zero tomorrow, further significant global climate change is now inevitable. Although we cannot tell with certainty how much average global temperatures will rise, we do know that the warming we have experienced to date has caused significant losses, and that the failure to prepare for the consequences of further...


Neil McArthur, "Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications" (MIT Press, 2017)

Sexbots are coming. Given the pace of technological advances, it is inevitable that realistic robots specifically designed for people's sexual gratification will be developed in the not-too-distant future. Despite popular culture's fascination with the topic, and the emergence of the much-publicized Campaign Against Sex Robots, there has been little academic research on the social, philosophical, moral, and legal implications of robot sex. Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications (MIT...


Lydia Barnett, "After the Flood: Imagining the Global Environment in Early Modern Europe" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

Many centuries before the emergence of the scientific consensus on climate change, people began to imagine the existence of a global environment: a natural system capable of changing humans and of being changed by them. In After the Flood: Imagining the Global Environment in Early Modern Europe (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), Lydia Barnett traces the history of this idea back to the early modern period, when the Scientific Revolution, the Reformations, the Little Ice Age, and the...


Robert Rozehnal, "Cyber Sufis: Virtual Expressions of the American Muslim Experience" (OneWorld, 2019)

What happens when the digital world meets Sufism? This is the question raised in the exciting new book Cyber Sufis: Virtual Expressions of the American Muslim Experience (OneWorld Academic, 2019) by Robert Rozehnal, a professor of Islamic Studies and South Asian Religions and the founding director of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University. This exhilarating new book explores how the Inayati Order, the oldest Sufi community in the west, under the current leadership of Zia...


Leor Halevi, "Modern Things on Trial: Islam’s Global and Material Reformation in the Age of Rida, 1865-1935" (Columbia UP, 2019)

How did Muslims respond to foreign goods in an age characterized by global exchange and European imperial expansion? What sort of legal reasoning did scholars apply in order to appropriate – or reject – items like the synthetic toothbrush, toilet paper, gramophones, photographs, railway lines, banknotes, hats, and other commodities? What role did laypeople play in shaping the contours of the scholarly debates around these items and projects? How did the entanglements of imperial power plays...


Raj Patel, "A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things" (U California Press, 2017)

Award winning activist and researcher Raj Patel has teamed up with innovative environmental historian and historical geographer Jason W. Moore to produce an accessible book which provides historical explanations for the world ecological crises and the global crisis in capitalism. Using the framework of "cheapness," A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet (University of California Press, 2017) takes the reader through the long...


Joe Miller, "US of AA: How the Twelve Steps Hijacked the Science of Alcoholism" (Chicago Review Press, 2019)

In the aftermath of Prohibition, America’s top scientists joined forces with members of a new group, called Alcoholics Anonymous, and put their clout behind a campaign to convince the nation that alcoholism was a disease rather than a moral failing. Their campaign spanned decades, and from it grew a multimillion-dollar treatment industry that actively promoted AA groups and the Twelve Steps as the primary way to deal with problem drinking. In our conversation about his new book US of AA: How...


Matthew D. O'Hara, "The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico" (Yale UP, 2018)

Latin America – especially colonial Latin America – is not particularly known for futurism. For popular audiences, the region’s history likely evokes images of book burning, the Inquisition, and other symbols of orthodoxy and fatalism. Specialists too tend to associate Latin America with a deep sense of historicism: the weight of memory – conquest, genocide, state violence – deeply marks the region’s politics and culture. On the other hand, in traditional historical narratives, a cognitive...


Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, "Nature, Empire, And Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World" (Stanford UP, 2006)

In the late 1500s, the mines of Potosí –a mountain in southern Bolivia — produced 60% of the world’s silver. It was a place of great wealth and terrible suffering. It is also a place, Jorge Canizares-Esguerra argues, that challenges the very idea of the Scientific Revolution. Canizares-Esguerra discusses Potosí and how its peoples and technologies shaped 16th century science. He is the Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been...


Susan Schulten, "A History of American in 100 Maps" (U Chicago Press 2018)

In her new book A History of American in 100 Maps (University of Chicago Press 2018), historian Susan Schulten uses maps to explore five centuries of American history, from the voyages of European discovery to the digital age. Schulten’s “visual tour of American history” considers the different purposes for which maps are created—maps as tools of statecraft and diplomacy, maps made to amuse and entertain, and maps made as instruments of social reform. Some of the maps she discusses document...


John Danaher, "Automation and Utopia: Human Flourishing in a World without Work" (Harvard UP, 2019)

The future is a constant focus of anxiety, and we are all familiar with the pressures that come distinctively from automation – the transformation by which tasks formerly assigned to humans come to be performed by machines. These days, the stakes seem to be higher, as technology now seems poised to render nearly all human labor obsolete. What lies in store for us, and for the flourishing and meaning of our lives, once technology has relieved humans of the need to work? In Automation and...


Mark Bartholomew, "Adcreep: The Case Against Modern Marketing" (Stanford Law Books, 2017)

Advertising is everywhere. By some estimates, the average American is exposed to over 3,000 advertisements each day. Whether we realize it or not, "adcreep"―modern marketing's march to create a world where advertising can be expected anywhere and anytime―has come, transforming not just our purchasing decisions, but our relationships, our sense of self, and the way we navigate all spaces, public and private. In Adcreep: The Case Against Modern Marketing (Stanford Law Books, 2017), Mark...


E. Wakild and M. K. Berry, "A Primer for Teaching Environmental History: Ten Design Principles" (Duke UP, 2018)

Emily Wakild and Michelle K. Berry have written a practical, informative, and inspiring guide to teaching environmental history. It also happens to be fun. A Primer for Teaching Environmental History: Ten Design Principles (Duke University Press, 2018) offers strategies and approaches that educators can apply in a variety of settings: from high school classrooms to college courses, and from environmental history and environmental studies courses to US and world history surveys. Wakild and...


Joshua Specht, "Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America" (Princeton UP, 2019)

Why do Americans eat so much beef? In Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America (Princeton University Press, 2019), the historian Joshua Specht provides a history that shows how our diets and consumer choices remain rooted in nineteenth century enterprises. A century and half ago, he writes, the colonialism and appropriation of indigenous lands enabled the expansion of western ranch outfits. These corporate ranchers controlled loose commodity chains, until...


Angelina Callahan, "NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Angelina Callahan talks about the Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard Project. While the launch of Vanguard 1 in 1958 was part of the Cold War “Space Race,” it also represented something more: a scientific platform for understanding the space environment as well as a test vehicle that would provide data for satellites of the future. Vanguard 1 is still flying. At 60 years, it is the oldest artificial satellite in space. Callahan is the Naval Research Laboratory Historian. She is also a...