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Slow Seminar no. 26

Collaboration: Experiments and Examples

2016.09.22 | Mia Korsbæk

Date Wed 12 Oct
Time 10:00 12:00
Location Moesgård, the old canteen, (4215, 032), Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg

We are pleased to invite you to the next AURA Slow seminar, which will take place October 12, from 10-12 at Moesgård, building 4215, room 032, Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg.

The theme of October’s Slow Seminar will be “Collaboration: Experiments and Examples”. We are doing a "distributed" format, where several of us bring readings that illustrate or reflect upon interdisciplinary collaborations or configurations. The idea is to bring specifics to the table, and to dwell concretely with the questions, troubles, and opportunities of these examples. We also want to make this a focused forward-thinking conversation about AURA questions and agendas. While not all of the readings are topically aligned with AURA concerns (we have here a mix of collaborations with economists, neuroscientists, botanists, chemists, and surgeons), we think there can something productive gained from reading them with AURA experiences and goals in mind.

Each of us (Natalie, Meredith, Pierre, and Filippo) has contributed a reading in which we find something worthwhile for thinking about how we do collaboration, or how we produce objects from it. At the seminar, we will each speak to the article we brought. These articles aren’t being held as ideals, but food for thought.


Green, L., Gammon, D.W., Hoffman, M.T., Cohen, J., Hilgart, A., Morrell, R.G., Verran, H. and Wheat, N., 2015. Plants, people and health: Three disciplines at work in Namaqualand. South African Journal of Science, 111(9-10), pp.01-12.


Pierre: This article offers insights and reflections about a collaborative attempt to generate transdisciplinary knowledge about plants across three disciplines: botany, chemistry, and anthropology.  Through conversations that respected disciplinary positions, and the language of those disciplines, these scholars engaged in a generative reimagining of their object of study.  While the goals and motivations behind their collaboration differ somewhat from AURA's, this paper offers an example of how transdisciplinary efforts allowed scholars to notice new things about their object of study, all the while remaining faithful to their respective disciplines, the kinds of contributions valued in their field, and their disciplinary pursuits.

Fullerton, D., & Stavins, R. 1998.  How economists see the environment.  Nature, 395, 433-434.

Meredith: What I think is interesting about this paper is that it is very similar to the kind of paper I often imagine writing to clarify certain misunderstandings and areas of inadequate integration between two fields.  I think it does a good job of trying to contextualize an inaccurate simplification while providing a rather clear explanation of key points that need to be considered to have fruitful conversations between the fields.  On the other hand, this paper, despite being in Nature, has been cited only 84 times (not much compared to other agenda-setting and supposedly interdisciplinary pieces) and would appear to have had no impact at all in reality, since the misunderstandings pointed to have only become further entrenched, e.g. in the ecosystem services framework.  So what's wrong?  

Fitzgerald, D., Littlefield, M.M., Knudsen, K.J., Tonks, J. and Dietz, M.J., 2014. Ambivalence, equivocation and the politics of experimental knowledge: A transdisciplinary neuroscience encounter. Social Studies of Science, 44(5), 701-721.

Natalie: At first glance this might look like “another article about collaboration”, but I think it has worthwhile things to offer in how we thinking about “anthropological instincts” in a collaboration, how we think about co-opting the tooling of natural scientists. The authors review some of the prevailing framings of “collaboration” and “transdisciplinarity” that circulate, and juxtapose them with the specifics of their own experience in a team of human, social, and natural scientists. The article talks about the “ambitious intertwinement of knowledge, affect, and power” that characterises collaborations. I don’t bring this article in order to suggest we write something similarly reflexive, but to use its nuanced reflection to prompt our discussions.

Mol, A. and Elsman, B., 1996. Detecting disease and designing treatment. Duplex and the diagnosis of diseased leg vessels. Sociology of Health & Illness, 18(5), pp.609-631.

Filippo: This article is a collaboration between Annemarie Mol and Bernard Elsman, a surgeon. Written for Sociology of Health and Illness, it aims to make a contribution across fields, on the content of clinical medicine and surgery. Aside from that, it offers a very lucid reflection also on the structure, meaning, limits and possibilities of collaboration and cross over.




Would you please let Mia know if you are planning to attend?


Looking forward to seeing you there!