Sciences from Below

Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities

Sciences from Below

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

More about this series

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: Published: June 2008

Author: Sandra Harding

Cultural Studies, Science and Technology Studies > Feminist Science Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

In Sciences from Below, the esteemed feminist science studies scholar Sandra Harding synthesizes modernity studies with progressive tendencies in science and technology studies to suggest how scientific and technological pursuits might be more productively linked to social justice projects around the world. Harding illuminates the idea of multiple modernities as well as the major contributions of post-Kuhnian Western, feminist, and postcolonial science studies. She explains how these schools of thought can help those seeking to implement progressive social projects refine their thinking to overcome limiting ideas about what modernity and modernization are, the objectivity of scientific knowledge, patriarchy, and Eurocentricity. She also reveals how ideas about gender and colonialism frame the conventional contrast between modernity and tradition. As she has done before, Harding points the way forward in Sciences from Below.

Describing the work of the post-Kuhnian science studies scholars Bruno Latour, Ulrich Beck, and the team of Michael Gibbons, Helga Nowtony, and Peter Scott, Harding reveals how, from different perspectives, they provide useful resources for rethinking the modernity versus tradition binary and its effects on the production of scientific knowledge. Yet, for the most part, they do not take feminist or postcolonial critiques into account. As Harding demonstrates, feminist science studies and postcolonial science studies have vital contributions to make; they bring to light not only the male supremacist investments in the Western conception of modernity and the historical and epistemological bases of Western science but also the empirical knowledge traditions of the global South. Sciences from Below is a clear and compelling argument that modernity studies and post-Kuhnian, feminist, and postcolonial sciences studies each have something important, and necessary, to offer to those formulating socially progressive scientific research and policy.


“I deeply appreciate how Harding critiques ‘sciences from below’ through a careful and caring practice of reading, writing, and thinking not only from but with those at the margins of Northern and Southern sciences and modernities.” — Harlan Weaver, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

Sciences From Below is [Harding’s] most ambitious statement yet of her philosophically and politically charged 'postcolonial science and technology studies', which seeks to expose and overcome the complicity of science in the subjugation of women and non-Western cultures. It is a bold project and this book demonstrates both its complexities and its considerable potential. . . . [It] exhibits enormous scholarship, enough to entice and sustain interest from philosophers, sociologists, historians, and political theorists.” — Ian James Kidd, Metapsychology Online Reviews

Sciences from Below is a wide-ranging book with multiple targets and objectives. It aims to encourage post-Kuhnian, feminist, and postcolonial philosophers of science into conversation and more broadly aims to put social justice squarely at the heart of that conversation. . . . It offers a nuanced and careful theoretical approach to what are often contentious arguments about the encounters between Western and non-Western cultures and sciences.” — Suzanne Bergeron, Feminist Economics

“[A] well-needed provocation to alter strategies for theorizing the modern and tradition. Recommended.” — W. K. Bauchspies, Choice

“[B]y engaging the standpoints of modernity’s Others, Harding pushes us to consider what we can learn from the multiple forms that science has already taken around the world, beyond ‘the horizon of modernity’ that has defined the proper realm of science and science studies.” — Katie A. Hasson, Australian Feminist Studies

“This admirably ambitious and passionately argued book, supplemented by a comprehensive bibliography, will be most welcome to those looking for a clear and critical overview of the key arguments in feminist and postcolonial science studies and in sociology of science. . . . [A]ctivists and scholars interested in socially transformative science will find Harding's book an excellent guide for developing future projects.” — Mahnaz Marashi, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“We live in a world where income gaps are widening, where the environment is suffering, and where economies are unstable. Harding has added a piece of scholarship to my feminist library that manages to grapple with theory and eloquently trace its place in the lives of people living around the world.” — Lizzy Shramko, Feminist Review

“With this book, Harding reminds us that it is critical to maintain a sense of political urgency as STS becomes increasingly institutionalized within the academy. Along with new collaborations that bring fresh perspectives to the study of global technoscience. . . . Sciences from Below belongs to a small and important constellation of work that sustains and reinvigorates feminist/postcolonial STS inquiry.” — Martha Kenney, Subjectivity

Sciences from Below is a brilliant synthesis of three approaches to science and technology studies and a call for increased exchange between
them.” — Nancy Tuana, Isis

“[A] stunning synthesis of research from post-positivist, feminist, and postcolonial science studies scholars.” — Bonnie Shulman, Technology and Culture

“[T]he philosophical—and human—imperatives that led [Harding] to write this book are extremely important, and the book itself opens possibilities that philosophers must explore.” — Emily R. Grosholz, Women's Review of Books

Sciences from Below is a splendid book. Sandra Harding’s project of intellectual integration, bringing together some of the most influential literatures on modernity, science, and feminism, is a welcome, much-needed project. Her project is needed because the social justice movements need synthetic scholarship, and it is needed because there is an academic tower of Babel with few translators.”
  — Hilary Rose, author of Love, Power, and Knowledge: Towards a Feminist Transformation of the Sciences

“Sandra Harding fills significant gaps in three crucial, overlapping, yet strangely independent scholarly literatures on science and technology: feminist analyses of science, “traditional” science and technology studies, and postcolonial science studies. This is a unifying and strengthening project of great significance both practically (for the future of science throughout the world) and within academe.” — Anne Fausto-Sterling, author of Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality

“Sandra Harding’s voice is one of the most important in the science and technology studies field. With Sciences from Below, she opens up a broad vista, one in which the entire field of social movements and alternative visions of modernity is gendered.” — David J. Hess, Professor of Science and Technology Studies and Director of the Program in Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sandra Harding is Professor of Women’s Studies and Education at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her many books include Science and Social Inequality: Feminist and Postcolonial Issues; The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies; Science and Other Cultures: Issues in Philosophies of Science and Technology (coedited with Robert Figueroa); Is Science Multicultural? Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies; and Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Why Focus on Modernity? 1

I. Problems with Modernity's Science and Politics: Perspectives from Northern Science Studies

1. Modernity's Misleading Dream: Latour 23

2. The Incomplete First Modernity of Industrial Society: Beck 49

3. Co-evoloving Science and Society: Gibbons, Nowotny, and Scott 75

II. Views from (Western) Modernity's Peripheries

4. Women as Subjects of History and Knowledge 101

5. Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies: Are There Multiple Sciences? 130

6. Women on Modernity's Horizons: Feminist Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies 155

III. Interrogating Tradition: Challenges and Possibilities

7. Multiple Modernities: Postcolonial Standpoints 173

8. Haunted Modernities, Gendered Traditions 191

9. Moving On: A Methodological Provocation 214

Notes 235

Bibliography 257

Index 281
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4282-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4259-5
Publicity material