Fall 2022 Colloquium - Suman Seth

Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University

Title: Problems in the Pluriverse: Postcolonial and Indigenous Science and Technology Studies

Abstract: In this talk I will explore one of the most interesting current areas of overlap between Postcolonial and Indigenous STS: a shared concern with the problems posed and the opportunities offered by relativizing ontologies. The central issue may be explained quite simply. Imagine a disagreement between two groups. One explains a given event—the shaking of the earth, perhaps—by invoking the action of some Gods; the other insists on a ‘scientific’ explanation, pointing to the coming together of tectonic plates. Were we, as analysts, to adopt an epistemologically relativist position on this disagreement, we might suggest that both groups were really ‘talking about the same thing.’ That they, in fact, were simply offering competing representations of truths—beliefs—about the world. Such a position insists that only one world exists, however many understandings of that world there may be. As an alternative, scholars in both postcolonial and Indigenous STS have proposed that it is the ontological and not the epistemological that needs to be relativized: that the problem lies in assuming that ‘we’ all share a single world. Instead of a universe, some have argued, we inhabit a pluriverse. Is the pluriverse a solution, however, or does it pose its own set of problems, both practical and political?  


Lectures begin at 3:35pm in 125 Nicholson Hall on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. 

The Program in History of Science, Technology and Medicine and the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science will host a joint lecture series during Spring 2022. At this time, all events will be in-person unless otherwise stated. Please contact hstm@umn.edu for more information. 

Start date
Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, 3:35 p.m.
End date
Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, 4:30 p.m.

125 Nicholson Hall