Conferences, workshops, lectures

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10. 10. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Jak najít bezpečné místo pro jaderný odpad a neotrávit přitom demokracii: příspěvek ke studiu socio-technické komplexity [How to find a safe space for highly radioactive nuclear waste without poisoning democracy: A comment toward the study of socio-technical complexity]

Presentation for the 4S conference in San Diego (USA, California), October 9-12, 2013

Technology transfer is intricate business with uncertain results. Our paper takes this well-known STS lesson as a starting point for a study in public deliberation. We will critically discuss the story of how a (social) technology for organizing public dialogues was transferred to the Czech Republic. This technology, called RISCOM, originally appeared during public debates about geological repository for high-level nuclear waste in Sweden. After some time it entered the international arena: under the auspices of European Commission and within several European projects it was proposed as something that would facilitate – and democratize – the processes of siting geological repositories. As such it is being implemented in several East European countries and in the Czech Republic in particular. On the one hand, RISCOM served well the Czech situation in that it helped to bring all the main actors to a discussion table after previous negotiations had completely crashed. On the other hand, it seems that RISCOM substantially failed from a broader perspective. Our study shows that it “succeeded” only at the cost of losing much of its specific original characteristics. As such, it became associated with only too general appeals to dialogue, the attractiveness of which lived but shortly. RISCOM also contributed to the increasing focus on dialogue per se, which ultimately lead to frustration and impatience on both sides. This recently resulted in the shift towards more authoritative decision making and another crisis of mutual trust. All in all, this import of democratic technology turned out to be somewhat counterproductive.
13. 6. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Jak najít bezpečné místo pro jaderný odpad a neotrávit přitom demokracii: příspěvek ke studiu socio-technické komplexity [How to find a safe space for highly radioactive nuclear waste without poisoning democracy: A comment toward the study of socio-technical complexity]

Presentation for Thursday seminars of CTS, Husova 4, Praha 1, 3rd floor (the seminar room)

(only in Czech)
9. 6. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Vyjednávání místa pro úložiště v Čechách: Jak importovaná demokratická metodika může přispět k rozvratu snah o nesilové řešení (Hoješín u Seče)

Presentation for the 15th conference of Biograf, June 7-9 2013, Hoješín near Seč (Chrudim)

22. 5. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: O sociologickém smyslu actor-network theory: Na čem vlastně Latourovi záleží, když mluví o hybridech, non-humans a sítích? [On the sociological meaning of actor-network theory: Why Latour actually speaks of hybrids, non-humans and networks?]

Presentation for the workshop on "Bruno Latour and his actor-network theory", organised by the section Sociological theory of the Slovak sociological association, Bratislava, Slovensko; 13.30-17.00 in the meeting room of the Institute for philosophy SAV (Klemensova 19, IV. floor, room 94)

30. 4. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek, Radim Marada & Csaba Szaló: Discussion on "Mravenečci v tajuplném světě symbolů aneb o vztahu ANT a kulturní sociologie (je-li nějaký)"omplexity [Ant(s) in the mysterious world of symbols - or, about the relationships between actor-network theory and cultural sociology]

Discussion organized by "Sociological platform", Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University in Brno

30. 11. 2012 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Religion in action: When theology meets Latourian science studies (Brno)

Presentation at the international workshop Towards a symmetrical approach: The study of religions after postmodern and postcolonial criticism, Brno, November 29-December 1 2012

In his writings about religion Bruno Latour argues that we should understand religion in its own terms (“religiously”) while seeing it as something “local, objective, visible, mundane, unmiraculous, repetitive, obstinate, and sturdy”. When talking about religion, we should avoid, Latour insists, turning our attention “to the far away, the above, the supernatural, the infinite, the distant, the transcendent, the mysterious, the misty, the sublime, the eternal”. Only then we can reframe the relationship between science and religion in a new, mutually meaningful and acceptable way. In my presentation I will use empirical data on Marian apparitions in Litmanová (Slovakia) to come with a sympathetic critique of such a position. I fully subscribe Latour’s general principles of non-reductionist STS as well as many his specific arguments on religion. I also share Latour’s “political” interest in exploring how to talk about religion in a way that would be meaningful for both agnostics and the faithful. However, I will argue that it is misleading to insist that religion must be understood exclusively in terms of presence-making practices, as Latour does. It will be demonstrated that something like quasi-scientific fact-making is not alien to (true) religious talk. On the contrary, it appears an important element of what Latour himself might call “religion in action” – i.e., religion not ready made and undisputed (as is the case in iconographic analyses of religious art), but uncertain, collectively performed, attempted and more or less achieved. In fact, it will be shown that overall Latourian sensitivity for reality in the making seems deficient in his own work on religion and makes it somewhat puzzling and not quite convincing. And yet: if we rearticulate the relationship between presence-making (of religion) and fact-making (of science) in a more subtle way, Latour’s main point about how to understand the truth of religion can still be kept. Even more it can be made more sound and elaborated, both empirically and theoretically.

25. 10. 2012 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: What is meant by saying that a controversy is socio-technical? Against simplified views of how to pursue democracy in technological societies (Praha)

Presentation at the international workshop Experts and the public in decision-making processes, Praha, October 25 2012

During last several decades, science and technology studies (STS) have had developed a convincing view, which challenges the idea of something purely technical as well as the idea of science external to what we call society or politics. Instead, STS authors write about complex socio-technical controversies that are articulated within a kind of hybrid forums, i.e., assemblies consisting of various elements and mixing together the lay and the expert, science and politics, nature and culture. This view has had some impact on the official EU and national policies and ideologies aiming at “democratization of expertise” (Liberatore 2001), “technical democracy” (Callon et al. 2009), or “robust and sustainable knowledge society” (Felt & Wynne 2007). The STS notion of the socio-technical is taken as a support for various forms of public and stakeholder involvement in what traditionally used to be a matter of expert assessment and decision making. Especially after the painful European experience with GMO it has become commonplace that a “social (ethical, political, cultural) dimension” is taken more seriously. Formally organized public consultations and dialogues are taken as prevention against possible social conflicts. I want to argue, however, that a number of shortcomings occurred during this translation of STS lessons into the language and procedures of practical politics. Based on my recent experience with the EU project on socio-technical challenges for implementing geological disposal of nuclear waste I will clarify some typical misunderstandings about the STS perspective. Contrary to what is too often supposed, talking about an issue as socio-technical (in the STS sense of the term) does not simply mean that certain political aspects are debated besides/before/after the technical ones. Rather, it implies approaching all possible aspects as both social and technical. To take the notion of socio-technical seriously thus means debating the social and the technical together, at the same time and as a single thing. Such an approach, I will also insist, can hardly be achieved/embodied by means of inviting selected activists (representing “the social”) and engineers (representing “the technical”) to spend time together exchanging standpoints and perspectives in a “fair dialogue”. When meetings with similar design are organized (and they often are), it not only deviates from what can reasonably be argued from within STS, but it also makes the idea of democratic governance in the age of science and technology empty and perverted.

22. 10. 2012 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: InSoTeC – including Czech Republic participation (Praha)

Presentation at the Radioactive waste management forum on stakeholder confidence (FSC), Praha, October 22-24, 2012

InSoTeC (International Socio-Technical Challenges for Geological Disposal; 2011-2013) is an EC-sponsored project aiming to generate a better understanding of the complex interplay between the technical and the social. It broadens the stream of socio-political research on radioactive waste management to include research on social aspects of science and technology in this matter and on the technical translation of socio-political requirements.

20. 10. 2012 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Making the nuclear waste repository locally acceptable… or real? Site selection as a socio-technical process (Copenhagen)

Presentation at the annual conference of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) & EASST, Copenhagen, Denmark, October 17-20, 2012

We are studying the site selection process for the deep geological disposal of nuclear waste in the Czech Republic. We understand this as a socio-technical controversy. Talking about the “socio-technical” does not simply mean that social aspects are considered alongside technical ones. Rather, it means focusing on how they are managed as elements that cannot easily (and without costs) be separated. The current siting phase in the Czech Republic highlights public negotiations and political decision-making. Underneath this “political” surface, however, technical developments are also understood to be taking place. For instance, municipalities sometimes realize rather well that when preliminary research is being proposed on their territories, “just for the sake of later qualified decision”, it also implies bringing the reality of geological disposal in the locality a step closer. They sense that better knowledge elaborating on the safety case for a repository will not be feasible without constructing a “rock laboratory” on site. And this knowledge-production site not only (by definition) resembles the future disposal facility, but can easily be transformed into one. Making the technology socially acceptable implies making it simultaneously more real. On other occasions, nonetheless, the same people strictly separate the technical from the social, insisting upon the purely political nature of the current phase in the site selection process. By making the intricacies of such boundary work more visible and graspable, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of nuclear waste management as a delicate contemporary challenge.

18. 5. 2012 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: O improvizaci v hudbě... a vůbec [On improvisation in music... and in general]

Presentation for the 41th outdoor workshop of CTS, May 18-20, 2012

6. 12. 2011 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Existovali mikrobi před Pasteurem? - Latourova zapeklitá odpověď a její souvislosti [Did microbes exist before Pasteur? - Latour's delicate answer and its consequences]

Lecture for the Seminar on history of science, Faculty of Sciences, Charles University in Prague (Viničná 7, 5:45pm)

4. 11. 2011 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Nadvláda ryze odborných hledisek – jak se uskutečňuje? Případ Natury 2000 [The rule of scientific criteria - how it is enacted? The case of Natura 2000]

Presentation for the seminar of the dept. of environmental studies at the Faculty of social studies, Masaryk University in Brno, The intellectual background of environmental protection

3. 11. 2011 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Věda, technika, politika a další úhybné síly pokroku [Science, technology, politics and other evasive forces of progress]

Presentation for Days of science and technology, Center for Theoretical Study, Husova 4, 3rd floor

22. 5. 2011 ::::

Petr Kůrka, Zdeněk Konopásek, Pavel Kouba, Bedřich Velický a Jiří Fiala: Sociální konstruktivismus v matematice a přírodovědě [Social constructivism in mathematics and the sciences] (Sedlec-Prčice)

Panel discussion of a paper by Bruno Latour organised for the 39th outdoor workshop of CTS

6. 5. 2011 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Hudební improvizace - proč je užitečné zkoušet jí sociologicky porozumět? [Improvisation in music - why it can be of interest for sociologists?]

Presentation for the workshop "Sociologists on music", organised by the section Sociological theory of the Slovak sociological association

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Latest publications/recordings

KONOPÁSEK, Z. (????): Antropocén: Více než jeden, méně než dva [Anthropocene: More than one, less than many]. In: P. Pokorný & D. Storch, eds: Antropocén. (edited book in preparation)

book chapter

KONOPÁSEK, Z. / SONERYD, L. / SVAČINA, K. (2018): Lost in translation: Czech dialogues by Swedish design. Science & Technology Studies, 31 (3): 5-23

Scientific paper

BARTLOVÁ, M. / BÍLEK, P. / KONOPÁSEK, Z. / REIFOVÁ, I. (2017): Diskuze o interdiciplinárních přístupech k normalizaci [Discussion on interdisciplinary approaches toward normalization]. In: K. Činátl, J. Mervart & J. Najbert, eds: Podoby česko-slovenské normalizace: Dějiny v diskusi [Forms of Czech-Slovak normalization: History debated]. Praha: ÚSTR/NLN. Pp. 81-101

book chapter
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