Small Science Collective – Science Comix!

I just came across this neat group of people who make zines and comics on science topics. As an avid comics and graphic novels fangurl, I love the way the genre distorts the typical registers of science discourse. You can download pdfs of their library here.

biosphere 2 nitrogen



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3 Responses
  1. Zinc says:

    I read Lilly’s link to Nicholas Rose’s interview, and couldn’t help seeing a historical cycle. He keep referring to reading groups, activist networks, short-lived zines, radical science interventions, and so on as “the kind of things [they] used to do back then.” He says it part-apologetically, part-nostalgically, part-defensively (as if to say, I know you won’t recognise any of this as academic work). But that’s the part of his reminiscences that I liked the most! And then he closes by talking about how he still wants to intervene in the way science is done but that his “STS friends” tell him that’s really old-fashioned and nobody does that any more. Wow.

    The punk-science pamphlet thing you identify is here, it’s active, and it’s a real thing (for good, bad, or whatever – it’s immersed in politics, always). So that makes me think:
    (1) is it just always a sad fact that disciplines will ignore the most exciting, provocative, world-changing trends in its court? Arvind Rajagopal shows this about media studies; Susan Koshy has argued this about Asian American studies; many people say this about STS (e.g. recall the fascinating troll who attached himself to the thread of postcolonial science panels, and got up to announce that any kind of science studies that concerned itself with historical inequities was silly, and that historically-minded critics should all get over their outdated critical obsessions, because “come on, that was a long time ago.”) Other than sharing the lulz, is it worth worrying about these trends at all in an intellectual sense? They do have institutional consequences, yes. But Rose reminds us that there was always a vigorous conversations on the outsides/ in the interstices of the disciplines.
    (2) Speaking about outsides, interstices, parasitic practices on/out of institutions: How might we participate in this current trend of pop writing, artistic production, pamphleteering, etc., in the pro-, anti-, and hybrid-scientific contexts we find ourselves in, while foregrounding the politics of our locations and knowledges? It would be great to see examples of productive engagements with these contexts that are not-quite-disciplinary but engaged with both the world in some forms, and talking back to scholarly knowledge in some registers.

  2. Beth Reddy says:

    I find this sort of stuff really inspiring– education for all!

    I like the informative nature of this kind of zine.

    It puts me in mind of some scarier analogues I encountered in the Pacific Northwest in my late teens/early 20s: instructional manuals for herbal birth control, in which the chemical experiments had to be enacted upon one’s own personal body. They sounded revolutionary and feminist, especially as I was only starting to learn about the financial and structural costs associated with mainstream medicine, until I saw a friend undergo an early-stage abortion using dong quai and vitamin c. It was terrifying (for me, her, and her partner) and painful (for her). These are the dangers and promises of punk rock science– the dangerous promises? The promising dangers? It’s worth thinking about the ways that scientific knowledge can circulate alongside adequate context and safety.

    Lilly, on the subject of the Defense of Science, I think you might be right. And I think it’s super interesting how the politics going on in the US travel.

    I’ve been speaking to people (Italians and Mexicans, mainly) about the US reaction to anti-science fervor quite a bit and I’m finding that many scientists haven’t the foggiest about what we are so worried about here. US scientists have been ready to decry anti-science work abroad as well as in their own backyard. National borders are, after all, sometimes a ghostly presence in research. In some cases, like the conviction of risk management scientists for manslaughter after poor public communication regarding earthquakes Italy, the reaction from US scientists has been particularly strong.

    What many people I’ve spoken with got out of that US reaction, however, was not support of scientists by scientists who are sensitized to anti-science activism. They saw racist bullshit.

    Stories from my real life about science in the world,

  3. Lilly says:

    It’s pretty amazing that we’re at a moment that science has become almost punk. Do you think this is in part a reaction to how tea party-esque forces have made science into something that has to be defended, rather than something hegemonic? I know someone here can do an interesting analysis of a scientific class as one of several contending for hegemony. Time to read gramsci?