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Sheila Jasanoff
Future-Making as a Mode of Governance


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Politics is generally regarded as a struggle for power in a situated present, with parties seeking control over goods, resources, lives, and other forms of capital. Modern science and technology, however, have shifted the temporal horizon of political struggle from the present to the future, with significant implications for social order. In her talk, Sheila Jasanoff explores the ways in which sociotechnical imaginaries, or shared visions of futures achievable through science and technology, have given rise to new forms of politics, with altered understandings of citizenship, voice, and expression. In this process, classic lines of territoriality and sovereignty have blurred, along with once clear distinctions between public and private power. Drawing on examples of future-making through biological and information sciences, she discusses how these sociotechnical imaginaries are creating new forms of political expression and subjectivity, and speculates on their implications for constitutionalism in the 21st century.
Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she founded and directs the Program on Science, Technology, and Society. Her research centers on the production and use of expert knowledge in legal and political decisionmaking in comparative and global contexts. Her books include The Fifth Branch, Science at the Bar, Designs on Nature, and The Ethics of Invention.


Selected Publications
  • Jasanoff, S. 2019. Can Science make Sense of Life? Cambridge: Polity.
  • Jasanoff, S. 2017. "Virtual, Visible, and Actionable: Data Assemblages and the Sightlines of Justice." Big Data & Society 4 (2).
  • Jasanoff, S. 2016. "Subjects of Reason: Goods, Markets and Competing Imaginaries of Global Governance." London Review of International Law 4 (3), 361-391.
  • Jasanoff, S., and S. Pfotenhauer. 2017. "Panacea or Diagnosis? Imaginaries of Innovation and the ‘MIT model’ in Three Political Cultures." Social Studies of Science 47 (6), 781-810.
  • Jasanoff, S., and S-H. Kim, eds. 2015. Dreamscapes of Modernity: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Jasanoff, S., and S.-H. Kim. 2009. "Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Regulation in the U.S. and South Korea." Minerva 47 (2), 119-146.


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