Facing the Unknown: Ignorance, Reflexivity, and Political Struggles in Turbulent Times

The NEGATE project organises research webinar Facing the Unknown: Ignorance, Reflexivity, and Political Struggles in Turbulent Times on Friday 26 November 2021. This interdisciplinary seminar focuses the asymmetric epistemological relations between lay expertise and expert knowledge, particularly in the context of health and technology-mediated knowledge production and from the perspective of politics and the environment.

Over the past two decades, processes of knowledge production, especially those mediated through technology, have increasingly challenged the authority of experts and institutions based on scientific knowledge in society. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the last example of this problematic, where epidemiologists, virologists, and other highly educated professionals have been faced with growing distrust regarding the adoption of protective measures or the vaccination process. Climate change is another example of this phenomenon, where despite the increasing number of evidence and extreme weather events of the last years, the distrust that experts have confronted has been even greater than in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the technologies that has particularly influenced contemporary knowledge production processes is social media, as these online platforms have allowed the distribution of alternative knowledges not always based on reliable information at times of deep uncertainty.

However, lay expertise and activism generated through social media is precisely what has made possible to determine the existence of long COVID or the organization of global climate movements like Fridays for Future. Likewise, the fact that highly educated professionals have also been insecure in these turbulent times is highlighting the temporality and limits of expert knowledge. In this context, exploring the asymmetric epistemological relations between lay expertise and expert knowledge may help the later in the management of current and future crises, especially at times where uncertainty seems to be the only certainty.

Schedule (UTC+2)
10:15-10:30 Anna Sendra & Jaana Parviainen (Tampere University, Finland)
Welcome and introduction to the theme
10:30-11:15 Vanessa Bowden (The University of Newcastle, Australia)
Ignorance is bliss – until the climate revolts. The role of reflexive ignorance in Australia’s climate change debates
11:15-12:00 Anna Sendra (Tampere University, Finland)
Health professionals and the relationship between ignorance and knowledge in the era of digital health
12:00-13:00 Lunch break
13:00-13:45 Jaana Parviainen & Anne Koski (Tampere University, Finland)
Scientific ignorance and the temporality of non-knowledge in political decision-making on COVID-19
13:45-14:30 Alena Bleicher (Harz University of Applied Sciences, Germany)
Ignorance in environmental decision making
14:30-15:00 Closing remarks

This webinar arranged  by the NEGATE project is part of a multidisciplinary research seminar serie, organised jointly by several disciplines and research units across Tampere University. The Science and technology research seminar runs yearly with four one-day seminar events held each academic year. (See more https://www.tuni.fi/studentsguide/curriculum/course-units/uta-ykoodi-48353?year=2020)

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More information: Dr. Anna Sendra, anna.sendratoset@tuni.fi, tel. +358505138273