Call for Papers: Silence in the History and Communication of Science Conference, Imperial College London, 17th December 2013

Silence is often construed negatively, as a lack, an absence. Yet silences carry meaning. They can be strategic and directed at particular audiences; they can be fiercely contested or completely overlooked. Silence is not only oppressive but also generative, playing a key role in creative and intellectual processes. Conversely, speech, whilst seeming to facilitate open communication, can serve to mask important silences or can replace the quietude necessary for insightful thought with thoughtless babble.

Despite a currently dominant rhetoric that assumes that openness in science is an inherent good, science – and its communication – depends as much on discontinuities, on barriers and lacunae, as it does on the free flow of information. This conference will bring together STS scholars and Science Communication Studies scholars to explore both the positive and negative features of silence in scientific practice and the communication of science.

Keynote: ‘The Sounds of Silencing’ by Professor Brian Rappert, Exeter University, author of Experimental Secrets.

Possible topics include:

Media silences in the reporting of science. The silencing of specific groups in public controversies about science. Tacit knowledge as silent performance. Withdrawals and periods of creative silence in the history of science. Silent subjects in scientific research. Laboratory secrets, scientific competition and the silencing of science Institutionalised secrecy in scientific practice. Laboratory design and the creation of silent spaces. Interdisciplinary silence and the limits of collaboration. Anonymous/pseudonymous authorship. The negative impacts of impact, public engagement, FoI and other instruments of openness on scientists. … and much much more!

Deadline for proposals: Monday 30th September.

More information about the conference and call for papers is available here

This call for papers is organized by AHRC Science in Culture Theme Research Network ‘The Silences of Science’