A Wary Alliance: From Enumerating the Environment to Inviting Apprehension


In this paper we resituate discussions of community-based science beyond the emancipatory rhetoric of democratization, creative commons, and the blurring of the bulwarks of expertise to include consideration of the potentially constrictive instrumentalist scientific idiom produced by and through these practices. Collectively, we apply four interrelated insights already available within STS literature to the chemical ecologies that we are immersed within and perpetuate: 1) projects engaged in the use of science for justice claims cannot fully escape reproducing hierarchies of knowledge-power, type, and knower; 2) the pursuit of science in these instances has the potential to foreclose imaginative horizons of “how” and “why” in favor of “how much”; 3) the pursuit of more data sets the stage for adversarial epistemological encounters that can lead to entrenchment rather than resolution; and 4) these practices have the resultant effect of defining and confining (democratic) participation to one in which data become an essential gateway to having a voice. Following from this, we ask: what are the approaches to apprehending the environment that might not so easily boil down to binaries of benevolence or harm, or to renderings of uncertainty confined to the specifications of statistical confidence intervals, that in turn justify further scientific inquiry? We gesture towards an expansive conversation that we call “inviting apprehension.” Such approaches beckon multiple strata of apprehending the environment to provoke public inquiry and intervention into the questions that undergird what we assume are the problems of today and the avenues through which we must engage them

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