Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, "Objectivity" (Zone Books, 2010)

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Turns out "objectivity" has a not-so clear-cut definition across time. In this podcast, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison to discuss their work, Objectivity (Zone Books, 2010). This work traces the historical and cultural developments of the word “objective” as it acquired different meanings and associated practices. Similarly, they consider the changing relationship of objectivity as it relates to the subjectivity of the researcher, as the “scientific self.” This deep philosophical work, diving into the cultural and historical shifts of epistemology within the past few centuries, is told through atlas making and image generation.

In this conversation, we discuss the evolving processes of research and atlas making and how they co-evolved with the fears, virtues, and ideals of the time of their emergence. Additionally, we talk about the role of the self and aesthetics in categorizing and publishing the collections of working objects in atlases. We end looking at the current trajectories of image production as they try to pragmatically predict what's to come.

Sarah Kearns (@annotated_sci) is an acquisition editor for an open scholarship publishing platform, a freelance science writer, and loves baking bread.

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