A critical dialogue series co-hosted by the South African Research Chair in Science Communication (Stellenbosch University) and Centre for Science, Health and Data Communication Research (Bournemouth University)

Co-Convenors: Prof Mehita Iqani and Prof Anna Feigenbaum  

This critical dialogue series invites speakers working in both empirically and theoretically innovative ways at the interface of science, communication, and society to engage in deep discussion about the relations between data, methodology and the exercise of authority in how science is culturally understood and communicated. It explores case studies of how scientific research has been harnessed into policy, official communication, popular culture, and public discourse. At the same time, it seeks to consider the inverse: How communications practices and structures work to produce the notion of scientific evidence itself.

The Evidence & Power critical dialogues provide an ongoing space to examine big questions about the ways in which science and society interact, specifically through various forms of communication, including clinical and scholarly research. What forms of address, relations of power, values are normative in the production and circulation of evidence within science communication? How did they come to be so? How can normative modes of science be questioned and deconstructed to support the collective project of creating a more just society? How do evidence and power operate in the realms of environmental issues, health and happiness, and inequality and equity? How can various forms of science communication and science media help to connect people who are actively working towards improving the quality of life for all?

This critical dialogue series approaches science as a form of knowledge that has been created by humans through social interactions. We signal this with the respectful placement of a question mark behind the capitalised term: Science? What happens to the status of science when it is questioned by creatives, cultural theorists, and communications researchers? Whom does science work for, or against, and with what purpose? When are scientists listened to or ignored, and why? Which scientists are taken seriously and by whom, and why? What forms of evidence are taken seriously by those in power, and which are not, and why? Which kinds of scientific evidence are amplified or silenced, and by which actors, in which contexts?

Through inter- and trans-disciplinary conversations, we explore how what counts as evidence may be challenged and re-arranged by decolonial, feminist, queer, anti-ableist, indigenous and other political movements that seek social justice. We are especially interested in exploring the status of evidence in various scientific and interdisciplinary projects, and how that evidence evolves, or is deployed, into instruments of power (and indeed, resistance). Who wields evidence as power, and in what ways? How might the effect and affect of power influence the production of evidence? What counts as data and how is it shaped into evidence by specific epistemological traditions? Who produces data as evidence and for what purpose? What role does the subjective play in the formation of objective scientific evidence? How does evidence shift and change when it crosses disciplinary boundaries?

Each dialogue will be organised around a discussion of the recent published works of one or two invited speakers. Sign up to our mailing list to be informed of the next event. The events will take place online.