Morana Alač

Morana Alac is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Program in Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

  • Handling Digital Brains

    Handling Digital Brains

    A Laboratory Study of Multimodal Semiotic Interaction in the Age of Computers

    Morana Alač

    An analysis of how fMRI researchers actively involve their bodies—with hand movements in particular—in laboratory practice.

    The results of fMRI brain scanning require extensive analysis in the laboratory. In Handling Digital Brains, Morana Alač shows that fMRI researchers do not sit passively staring at computer screens but actively involve their bodies in laboratory practice. Discussing fMRI visuals with colleagues, scientists animate the scans with gestures, and talk as they work with computers. Alač argues that to understand how digital scientific visuals take on meaning we must consider their dynamic coordination with gesture, speech, and working hands. These multimodal actions, she suggests, are an essential component of digital scientific visuals.

    A semiotician trained in cognitive science, Alač grounds her discussion in concepts from Peirce's semiotics and her methodology in ethnography and multimodal conversation analysis. Basing her observations on videotaped records of activity in three fMRI research labs, Alač describes scientists' manual engagement with digital visuals of the human brain. Doing so, she turns her attention to the issue of practical thinking. Alač argues that although fMRI technology directs scientists to consider human thinking in terms of an individual brain, scientific practices in the fMRI lab demonstrate thinking that engages the whole lived body and the world in which the body is situated. The turn toward the digital does not bring with it abstraction but a manual and embodied engagement. The practical and multimodal engagement with digital brains in the laboratory challenges certain assumptions behind fMRI technology; it suggests our hands are essential to learning, and the making of meaning.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99

Contributor

  • The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, and Laurel Smith-Doerr

    The fourth edition of an authoritative overview, with all new chapters that capture the state of the art in a rapidly growing field.

    Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a flourishing interdisciplinary field that examines the transformative power of science and technology to arrange and rearrange contemporary societies. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the field, reviewing current research and major theoretical and methodological approaches in a way that is accessible to both new and established scholars from a range of disciplines. This new edition, sponsored by the Society for Social Studies of Science, is the fourth in a series of volumes that have defined the field of STS. It features 36 chapters, each written for the fourth edition, that capture the state of the art in a rich and rapidly growing field. One especially notable development is the increasing integration of feminist, gender, and postcolonial studies into the body of STS knowledge.

    The book covers methods and participatory practices in STS research; mechanisms by which knowledge, people, and societies are coproduced; the design, construction, and use of material devices and infrastructures; the organization and governance of science; and STS and societal challenges including aging, agriculture, security, disasters, environmental justice, and climate change.

    • Hardcover $75.00 £62.00
  • Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited

    Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited

    Catelijne Coopmans, Janet Vertesi, Michael E. Lynch, and Steve Woolgar

    A fresh approach to visualization practices in the sciences that considers novel forms of imaging technology and draws on recent theoretical perspectives on representation.

    Representation in Scientific Practice, published by the MIT Press in 1990, helped coalesce a long-standing interest in scientific visualization among historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science and remains a touchstone for current investigations in science and technology studies. This volume revisits the topic, taking into account both the changing conceptual landscape of STS and the emergence of new imaging technologies in scientific practice. It offers cutting-edge research on a broad array of fields that study information as well as short reflections on the evolution of the field by leading scholars, including some of the contributors to the 1990 volume.

    The essays consider the ways in which viewing experiences are crafted in the digital era; the embodied nature of work with digital technologies; the constitutive role of materials and technologies—from chalkboards to brain scans—in the production of new scientific knowledge; the metaphors and images mobilized by communities of practice; and the status and significance of scientific imagery in professional and popular culture.

    Contributors Morana Alač, Michael Barany, Anne Beaulieu, Annamaria Carusi, Catelijne Coopmans, Lorraine Daston, Sarah de Rijcke, Joseph Dumit, Emma Frow, Yann Giraud, Aud Sissel Hoel, Martin Kemp, Bruno Latour, John Law, Michael Lynch, Donald MacKenzie, Cyrus Mody, Natasha Myers, Rachel Prentice, Arie Rip, Martin Ruivenkamp, Lucy Suchman, Janet Vertesi, Steve Woolgar

    • Paperback $40.00 £32.00