A Little Reminder about Situated Knowledges, Courtesy of The Onion

After the New York Times, The Onion's website is my second-most frequented news site. And while I don't expect to get the most accurate news per se, I find there is always something to learn from their articles. I found this gem today while perusing the site, and it made me think of Banu Subramanium, Sandra Harding, and of course, Donna Haraway and her "Situated Knowledges." The article details how a group of only a couple dozen historians and archaeologists essentially made-up Ancient Greece, and all that came out of it, in an attempt to explain things like where democracy came from, the beginnings of astronomy, etc.... While history isn't exactly "hard" science, it is certainly about facts, and I think the article can be pretty easily imagined as having been written about biology or physics. Imagine an article about a group of scientists who basically made-up how a sperm and egg came together to create an embryo. The historians in the article who "fabricated Ancient Greece" were creating a history to line up with society today. They were, in an extreme case, telling history in a way that fit the way that we see the world today. Just as, in a past week's reading, we read about how the egg and the sperm's roles in reproduction were told to society in a way that fit traditional and stereotypical gender roles. But what this Onion article does, just as feminist science does, is reminds us to question where things come from. While an entire ancient civilization being made-up by less than thirty individuals is pretty far-fetched, what is not far-fetched is that often what is considered "common knowledge" comes from a pretty homogenous group of people, with a pretty homogenous view of the world, and perhaps pretty homogenous goals in life. While Ancient Greece was certainly not fabricated, the article reminds us (whether intentionally or not) to ask where we get our information about Ancient Greece? about human fertilization? about parasitism and competition among species? We've been discussing situated knowledge much with the "hard" sciences as our back drop, our site for dissection and questioning, and even I tried to replace history in this Onion article with biology, but I do wonder now, and this is the question I'm posing to readers, is it fair to use Haraway's theory of situated knowledges when looking at history and archaeology? Psychology and sociology? Perhaps even the really "unscientific" disciplines like literature? Perhaps it's helpful, but not altogether exactly translatable?

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This page contains a single entry by rega0167 published on October 17, 2010 2:09 PM.

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