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"Knowledge byproducts in the mouse laboratory: Learning about environments while doing genetics" Nicole Nelson (University of Winconsin)

Egenis Seminar

Scholars in Science and Technology Studies, have long noted that laboratory work produces much more than the officially recognized facts that end up in scientific publications. Investigations of local or tacit knowledges, as well as more recent calls to examine non-knowledge and processes of unknowing, draw attention to the many ways of knowing present in scientific work. This paper examines how the production of "knowledge byproducts" (a term I use to encompass the many non-privileged knowledges of ways of knowing present in the laboratory) interacts with the production of sought after scientific facts and privileged epistemic objects. Using ethnographic data from an animal behaviour genetics laboratory, I argue that (somewhat ironically) researchers end up accumulating much more knowledge about the effects of the environment on behaviour than they do about the effects of genes -- although knowledge about the interactions between animals and their environments is not explicitly valued or sought out, it accrues gradually in the laboratory through the process of working with animals and creating a controlled experimental setting. Taking the accumulation and distribution of knowledge byproducts into account helps to better understand animal behaviour genetics practitioners' stances on the certainty (or uncertainty) of their scientific findings.

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Byrne House