Andrew Pickering: Being in an Environment

Professor Andrew Pickering (University of Exeter) gives a lecture on “Being in an Environment: A Performative Perspective”.
Recorded on the 30th October 2014 at the University of Edinburgh.
Abstract: This talk lays out my general perspective on human relations with the environment. The central thread is a conviction that our thinking on this topic should start from a concern with performance and agency – the actions of people and things – rather than from scientific knowledge as a given point of departure. My approach is ontological rather than epistemological. It grows out of my earlier work in science studies, and I begin by reviewing some concepts developed there, and why they clash with mainstream academic discourses, before moving on to environmental topics and examples. Key threads include a distinction between two paradigms in scientific and engineering approaches to the environment, and an attempt to put science in its place – to see from the outside just how science figures in our relations with the environment. I am especially keen to establish the possibility of engaging nature in a directly performative fashion – one that does not centre itself on knowledge, science and the laboratory.