Evidence, Infrastructure and Worth
Calkins, Sandra; Rottenburg, Richard – 2017
This chapter focuses on the mutable infrastructures through which evidence is made, travels and is challenged. Evidence production presupposes infrastructures and simultaneously reinforces some of their dimensions. Evidence about scientic matters is to a large extent produced within experimental infrastructures or systems with predened protocols, laboratory regulations, research technologies, methods, skilled sta, disciplinary convictions and other elements. In spite of such denitions, infrastructures of evidence-making are also unpredictable. Scientic controversies problematize evidence in line with dierent worths shifting the grounds of evidence, making other elements and infrastructures visible and reconguring both the infrastructure and what is being transported. Our motivation is to contribute to ongoing engagements with infrastructuring as material-semiotic practice in the social sciences and the humanities. In recent years this debate has moved away from an earlier focus on infrastructure as material forms enabling the making, communication, and circulation of things and facts. Core concerns of early studies were the stability, recalcitrance, and path dependency of infrastructure. Whatever assemblage of technologies, procedures, and people (hardware, software and people) was solid enough to facilitate a set of organized practices could go by the name of infrastructure in relation to that practice (Star and Ruhleder 1996: 113; Star 1999). Early denitions of infrastructure included technologies and artifacts as well as technicians, engineers, and procedures that help to keep things running and whose politics often remains hidden (Winner 1986; Joerges 1999). Unlike presently, previous work did not always refer to such arrangements as “infrastructure.” Rather, these complex sets of arrangements were often called large technical or experimental systems, or assemblage or network, if the focus was less on the enabling function for a particular practice and more on qualifying the relations of its parts (for large technical systems, see Hughes 1983; Bijker et al. 1989; Edwards 1996; for experimental systems, see Rheinberger 1992; for assemblage, see Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 399, and chapter 10 on “intensive experimentation” and “becoming”; Callon 2006: 13). Similarly, Landecker (2007) and Rottenburg (2009) wrote about the working and intersecting of knowledge infrastructures but without recourse to this specic conceptual language.