CFP: “Faking It:” Counterfeits, Copies, and Uncertain Truths in Science, Technology, and Medicine

CFP: “Faking It:” Counterfeits, Copies, and Uncertain Truths in Science, Technology, and Medicine
April 10-11, 2015
University of California, Berkeley

Keynote address by Joseph Masco, University of Chicago
We invite colleagues to join us for a two day symposium at the University of California, Berkeley on “faking it”–here construed broadly as fudging, imitating, juking, playing the trickster, pretending, feigning, re-creating, manipulating, falsifying.  Our aim is to bring together a wide variety of scholars whose work, in some way, touches upon this issue.  We invite colleagues to consider any aspect of the practices, epistemologies, ontologies, and politics of faking, copying, counterfeiting, or quackery.  We seek to amplify and incubate a growing attention to the theory and practice of fake truths on Berkeley’s campus and beyond.

Over the past several decades, science studies scholars have explored the ways in which scientific knowledge and practice is socially constructed, debated, contested, and deemed credible by the public.  Others have turned their attention to the politics and poetics of “agnotology,” or the social, political, economic, and cultural circumstances that promulgate and substantiate ignorance.  Both of these takes on the sociology of knowledge have opened up room for examining the creative ways in which actors fake, fudge, and forge.  In the contested space between corporations and the broader public, for example, sociologists and historians have explored the tobacco wars, global warming debates, and the regulatory boundaries of “permissible exposure” to industrial toxins.  So too, anthropologists and STS scholars working from below are increasingly turning attention to artisanal knowledge and ingenuity, be it cultures of repair or improvisation in medicine.  At each of these registers, there are possibilities for both creativity and catastrophe.

For this symposium, we invite scholars working on issues as diverse as climate change, voting machines, and art forgery, as we probe the validity of data, the fabrication of evidence, and the harmful as well as potentially liberating practices and ramifications of faking it.

We welcome submissions on a wide variety of issues, including:

  • Experts, quacks, and how fake information becomes “real knowledge”
  • Pain and pleasure: the social intimacy of the con
  • Counterfeit and shadow markets
  • The ethical and experiential ramifications of faking it
  • The materiality of the fake in science, technology, and medicine
  • Bureaucratic entanglements and the officialdom of the fake.
  • Fabrication as necessity–managing uncertainty in science and policy
  • Race, genomics, and ancestry politics

We are accepting abstracts for individual presentations as well as panel proposals for 3-4 presenters.  Individual abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should include your name and institutional affiliation.  Panel proposals should be no more than 750 words and should include a description of the panel topic and title as well as the names and institutional affiliations of each participant.  Please submit abstracts and panel proposals to Shannon Cram ( and Marissa Mika ( by February 13, 2015.