Activism and science

Marta Conde and Mariana Walter

Wednesday 27th June, 12.00-13.30, UAB Campus

As Marta Conde argues on her paper “Activism Mobilizing science”, lay citizens, communities and local grassroots organisations immersed in socio-environmental conflicts are engaging with professional scientists to understand the impacts a polluting project is causing to their environment and themselves. Together with scientists they co-produce new and alternative knowledge that gives the local organisations visibility and legitimacy, information on how to protect themselves from the impacts, and allows them to engage in practical activism, challenging the manufactured uncertainty and other information produced by the state or companies running the projects.

This is the class starting point to examine how activist and expert epistemologies complement and/or collide in processes of joint knowledge production. Analyzing and discussing practical cases we will explore mechanisms of exclusion and mechanisms through which citizen empowerment occurs allowing conflicts to become forces for transformation.

We want to explore the role of science and activist-scientific alliances in wider processes of Post-Normal Science. The class will address the following key questions:

  • How activist and expert epistemologies collide/collaborate in knowledge production processes?
  • What is knowledge co-production? is it allways present in activist-scientific alliances? are there other forms of co-production in these alliances?
  • Why are knowledge co-production processes relevant?
  • Which are the implications in your own research?


Brief description of the method
Participants must read the 2 papers.

Group and participative dynamics will be used to have a collaborative discussion on the proposed themes and research questions.

Compulsory readings

Topçu, S., 2008. Confronting nuclear risks: counter-expertise as politics within the French nuclear energy debate. Nature+ Culture, 3(2), p.225.

Conde, M., 2014. Activism mobilising science. Ecological economics, 105, pp.67-77.