Conferences, workshops, lectures

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27. 5. 2007 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Katalogy, mapy a seznamy v odborném posuzování, politickém rozhodování a úředním vyřizování: Případ Natury 2000 v čR [Catalogues, maps and lists in expertise, decision-making and politics of Natura 2000 in the Czech Republic]

Presentation at the 9th workshop of the Biograf journal, Borek near Suchomasty, May 25-27, 2007

15. 3. 2007 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Jan Paleček: Exorcismus věřícnýma očima [On accountability of exorcism]

Lecture within the series of CTS Thursday seminars (10-12am, seminar room, Husova 4, Praha 1)

 

8. 2. 2007 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Jak se dělá myšlení - o tzv. kvalitativní analýze trochu jinak [On material practices of thinking and reasoning - an alternative view of qualitative analysis]

Lecture within the series of CTS Thursday seminars (10-12am, seminar room, Husova 4, Praha 1)

13. 1. 2007 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: The language metaphor in sociology - two different trajectories

Presentation at the international workshop Languages of science: Where metaphors and models meet (Science, or else series), Villa Lanna, Praha, January 12-14, 2007

The metaphor of language is an influential sociological metaphor. It is, as Brown would put it, a root metaphor, since it functions as a widespread, often implicit general frame for imagining, observing and understanding social structures and processes. Further, for many sociologists, “social phenomena” are not like language, but they are language. Seeing reality as language, however, can mean very different things for sociologists and can even have conflicting theoretical and methodological consequences. For some, the language metaphor necessarily leads to a significant and fatal reduction: only small parts of the world, (directly related to) texts and linguistic exchanges, are taken as sociologically relevant, while the rest is omitted and put aside. For others, however, the same metaphor, taken seriously and consistently, implies a different move: our understanding of how language operates and what kind of entity it is, extended beyond the realm of the spoken or written world and applied to virtually any phenomena of the empirically observable world. Here, the reality is not reduced to texts, but recognized as textual. By outlining and explaining these two conflicting approaches I would like to emphasize interpretative flexibility of key metaphors in scientific thought.

5. 9. 2006 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Why experts are seen as neutral arbiters in the Czech Republic? Understanding the post-communist politics of de-politicization

Presentation at the international conference Science and democracy: A new frontier between Eastern and Western Europe?, The Nobel Museum & Södertörn University College, Stockholm, September 4-6, 2006

The situation in contemporary Czech Republic provides numerous examples showing that experts and scientists keep enjoying an unchallenged and privileged status of neutral arbiters, situated out of the political arena. Although comparisons between the post-communist East and (capitalist) West are always at risk of being schematic and inadequate, it seems that such de-politicized perception of science is much stronger in the Eastern Europe than in most Western European countries. Underdevelopment of STS (Science and technology studies) in the post-communist East is part of this diagnosis. Different political cultures of expertise in the “new” and “old” EU member states might even turn into sources of tension and misunderstanding on the level of particular problems and controversies. In my paper I would like to make the difference and its roots more understandable. I will discuss the political status of science under the communist regime and its implications for the development after 1989. That time, in the Czech Republic, science and expertise were to be “finally liberated” from the burden of the political, with the hope that this de-politicization would bring us closer to Western democracies. This was a huge misapprehension, however, since Western democracies were at the very same time shifting towards a kind of “re-politicization” of the realm of science and technology. Propensity toward de-politicization was further increased, again quite paradoxically, by the process of accession of the Czech Republic to the EU. This process, simply put, had the form of purely technical implementation of unquestionable measures and principles. Although my presentation will take empirical evidence and case examples mostly from the Czech Republic, it may open a more general discussion about science and expertise in other post-communist countries as well.

14. 1. 2006 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: What is often left out of science's promises: on the ethical dimension of nano-technologies

Presentation at the international workshop Promises of science (Science, or else series), Villa Lanna, Praha, January 14-15, 2006

Nanotechnology is a privileged and promising field of contemporary research. What seemed to be a science-fiction in Drexler’s book Engines of creation published in 1986 is becoming, at least in part, a matter of serious scientific debates. It is generally accepted that nanotechnologies are going to profoundly change our world and, indeed, ourselves. Applications in medicine and environmental politics are emphasised as examples of improvements brought about by this research field.  Promises that are articulated by promoters of “nano” are relatively widely debated. But what about those issues implied by nanotechnologies, but usually not included in explicitly stated promises? What about hidden or under-articulated parts of nano-sciences? Besides potential risks associated with “nano”, there is an important ethical dimension (reaching far beyond the usual issues of scientific ethics) to be discussed. I will briefly sketch specificities of these ethical issues as well as their current reflections in the politics of nano-related research.

23. 11. 2005 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Nikdy jsme nebyli moderní Bruno Latoura [Bruno Latour\'s We have never been modern]

Lecture within series The key texts for social anthropology, Dept. of anthropology, Faculty of human sciences, Charles University

21. 10. 2005 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Identity work in an environmental controversy

Presentation at the 5th international conference on Conflict in identities, identities in conflict, Faculty of social studies, Masaryk University in Brno

When participating in environmental controversies, social actors engage not only in arguing, but also in various forms of “identity work”. By articulating the subject of a controversy, they often imply definitions of themselves and of their opponents. Examples from my recent empirical work suggest that flexibility, mutability and multiplicity of these identities are an important resource for conflict resolution. Although this may sound as a typically abstract academic view of the problem I will discuss its practical political relevance.

7. 8. 2005 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Exploring ordinary resources of an extraordinary power: Toward „ethnomethodological“ study of the communist regime

Invited presentation for the plenary session of the 9th conference of The International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (IIEMCA), Bentley College, Waltham, MA, USA; August 6-9, 2005

Understanding the communist past of Central and Eastern European countries is a persisting task even today, 15 years after the fall of the iron curtain. Dominant political discourses, media images and legal documents push through the following idea of communism: it was something, which originated in a few extra-ordinary, single and far-reaching events (such as violent turnovers, revolutions, military interventions, and colossal intellectual failures); which was based and dependent on a totally controlled and clearly located, centralized power (e.g., the power of a Central Committee of the Communist Party); and which is essentially incommensurable with other political/social regimes (i.e., with democracies in the West and with the new democratic regimes in the region). This tendency is particularly strong if the issue of communism is addressed explicitly and on a general level. At many other occasions, however, when we focus upon situated and practically oriented actions of different social actors, both in the present and in the past, the picture looks different and more complicated. A space for ethnomethodologically inspired study of the communist regime opens up and ordinary resources of the extraordinary power become visible. To show the charm and relevance of such an approach, very much neglected in this field of research, I will use an example of a study undertaken together with my colleague Zuzana Kusá from Bratislava: we have chosen the example of political screenings in former Czechoslovakia to demonstrate the local production of power relations that constituted the reality of the political regime. The analysis of detailed narrative accounts of events that happened in early 1970s suggests that an inverted, non-totalitarian theoretical interpretation of communism is feasible, which better corresponds to the lived, practical experience of involved actors: the power of communists was made real and durable not so much by means of total control, unconditional subsumption and clear-cut categorizations, but rather by means of flexible and subtle identity-work and of partial connections.

18. 1. 2005 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Co znamená interpretovat text? [What it means to interpret a text?]

Presentation at the 4th annual conference Qulatitative approaches in the human sciences, Olomouc; January 17-19, 2005

13. 12. 2004 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Je třeba (ještě jednou) rozebrat Sokala [The Sokal affair revisited]

Lecture within the series of CTS Monday seminars (5 pm, seminar room, Husova 4, Praha 1)

7. 10. 2004 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Zrádnosti soustředěného tlaku: O „nepolitické“ politice ekologických aktivistů [Pitfalls of concentrated pressure: On „non-political“ politics of (Czech) environmentalists]

Lecture within the series of CTS Thursday seminars (10-12am, seminar room, Husova 4, Praha 1)

27. 8. 2004 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Tereza Stöckelová: Making pure science/pure politics in the public controversy over the highway bypass of Plzen

Presentation at the joint annual conference of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and The European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), Paris, France; August 25-28, 2004

This paper is based on a detailed empirical case study of a long-term public controversy over the construction of a highway by-pass around the city of Plzen (in South-Western Bohemia, Czech Republic). The controversy involved a wide range of actors: local activists, an environmentalist NGO, politicians of all levels, experts, developers, state and regional administration, and media people. Two variants of the by-pass were at stake: one of them gradually appearing better and better, attractive for experts, but existing as if only on paper, while the other was becoming more and more real, pushed through mainly by local politicians, and actually constructed. Although the story could be narrated in terms of an unequal struggle between environmentalists and small villages on one side and politicians, economic lobbies and municipality of a big city on the other, we will try to follow a more subtle and complex story-line, which focuses upon different strategic usages of science and politics. Besides explaining how it happened that one of the variants “attracted” the winning properties (and “won”), we will also describe a “vicious” circle of a double purification of science and politics and show how it contributes to the fragility of both democracy and expertise.

13. 6. 2004 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Kompromisy, body zvratu a sítě nevratnosti - co kdo kdy zmůže v socio-technických sporech? [Compromises, turning points and networks of irreversibility: What can be achieved in socio-technical controversies, when and by whom?]

Presentation at the 7th workshop of the Biograf journal, Borek near Suchomasty, June 11-13, 2004

24. 3. 2004 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Co kdo kdy zmůže v socio-technických sporech? [What can be achieved in socio-technical controversies, when and by whom?]

Presentation at the national seminar of the Pub-Acc team on Environmental controversies in technical democracy, Praha, Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University, March 24, 2004

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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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