Science, Technology and Society
Fabrications: Technology, Masculinity, and Architectural Modernism
Description

This book project complements my previous monograph Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity (U. of California Press, 2006), which also dealt the nexus between technology, architecture, and the politics of culture.  The current project is more geographically ambitious, however, tracing its subject across three principle sites (the US, Japan, and Singapore) over half a century (roughly 1925-1975).  My argument is that architecture turned strongly toward technology as a strategic professional and symbolic tool in an atmosphere of crisis, and one which had much to do with a collective sense of lost masculinity.  The technology I'm most interested in is prefabrication, which promised to turn building - particularly the crucial housing market - into a mass-production industry over which a newly-revitalized architectural profession would have creative control.

Awarding Body: Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund, Singapore

 

Investigators
Gregory CLANCEY
Mapping the Technological and Cultural Landscape of Scientific Development in Asia
Description

Scientific and technological advancement lay at the heart of any notion of the historical emergence of a Global Asia that extends beyond national or regional borders to encompass rapidly changing worldwide networks of expertise, infrastructure, and research agendas. There is a pressing need to empirically analyze the potential of Big Science research, now the dominant model throughout the region, to truly transform Asian cities into aspiring global command posts of knowledge production. A clear map of these urban centers of innovation and their activities spanning across a multicultural landscape is vital to navigate Singapore’s future.

This project charts the shifting centers of Big Science research in Asia and their evolving global networks within the context of different understandings of a scientific revival or Renaissance in China, India, Singapore, and the Middle East. The distinctive developmental pattern of scientific traditions, careers, communities and institutions in each region leading up to the establishment of current large-scale research facilities will be compared. At issue is whether these new hubs anchor the changing shape of global science networks and drive research agendas. A multidisciplinary team of social and computer scientists will also develop an interactive mapping and database system using computerized data-mining to historically track the flow of scientists and their research outputs as “knowledge vectors” along networks of international Big Science facilities.

Awarding Body: Asia Research Institute and Global Asia Institute

Investigators
Philip CHO
The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online
Description

Online since 2002, The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (or Darwin Online) is the largest and most widely consulted edition of the writings of Darwin ever published. More copies of Darwin's works have been downloaded from Darwin Online than have been printed by all publishers of the past 180 years combined. The site is one of the world’s major publications in the history of science. Since October 2006 the site has been visited over 200 million times and from every country on earth. The website contains over 97,000 pages of searchable text and 213,000 electronic images, at least one exemplar of all known Darwin publications, reproduced to the highest scholarly standards, both as searchable text and electronic images of the originals. The majority of these have been edited and annotated for the first time with thousands of original editorial notes.

The website also provides the largest collection of Darwin's private papers and manuscripts ever published: c. 20,000 items in c. 100,000 images, thanks primarily to the kind permission of Cambridge University Library.

All of Darwin's unpublished manuscripts are being scanned, transcribed or both, if reproduction permission can be obtained. All previously published manuscript transcriptions are included (except where reproduction permission could not be obtained). Overall the site provides the world's largest collection of material on and by Darwin - almost all of it online only here.

Investigators
None
Wallace Online
Description

Wallace Online is a research project dedicated to the life and work of the explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Wallace studied the natural history of the Malay Archipelago (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) from 1854-1862. In 1858 he famously conceived of the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently of Charles Darwin. Writings by both men, outlining the theory, were published in the same year..

Similarly to Darwin Online, the Wallace Online project will produce a free scholarly website which will offer Wallace’s complete publications, and also many of his unpublished private papers. The project is in collaboration with Charles S. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page and the Natural History Museum (London).

In addition, the project is creating a union catalogue of Wallace’s unpublished private papers in various archives around the world, a complete day-by-day itinerary of Wallace’s movements in South East Asia, and other original research on science and exploration in Wallace’s time in South East Asia.

The donation supports a full time Senior Research Fellow, Dr Kees Rookmaaker, who also worked for the Darwin Online project at the University of Cambridge (2005-9) and whose experience and expertise are an invaluable asset. We hope to launch the Wallace Online website in 2011 and complete the project in time for the centenary of Wallace’s death in 2013.

Investigators
None
Heat in Urban Asia: Past, Present, and Future
Description

Our research investigates the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in Singapore. The combination of climate change and local urbanisation is already a problem and is set to become worse, impacting on social, economic, and cultural life. Unlike scientific studies that focus on models and projections however, our team believe that the myriad challenges posed by urban heat cannot be addressed adequately from within the confines of a single disciplinary tradition. Lead by historians, but involving climate scientists, geographers and sociologists, our preliminary research will set the basis for a larger interdisciplinary project to examine the problem of heat in Asian cities past, present, and future.

Our research has three central themes. Firstly, Taking the City’s Temperature investigates the record of historic temperatures. This integrates quantitative data derived from instrumental temperature records available in archives with qualitative data from historic sources. Our eventual aim is to extend the timeline further into the past than any previous project. Secondly, Living with Heat explores how Asian city dwellers have coped with the quotidian discomforts of life in a hot environment, examining how heat exposure intersects with poverty and vulnerability in dwellings and workplaces. Thirdly, Disastrous Heat examines what happens when temperatures reach hazardous levels. Heatwave disasters are already causing widespread public health and economic problems annually in Asia and will get worse over the next few decades. We are uncovering a record of historic events to determine disaster trends and explore whether policymakers and relief agencies can look to historic solutions for future disaster risk reduction.

Awarding Body: Humanities and Social Sciences Seed Fund Grant

Investigators
Gregory CLANCEYFiona WILLIAMSON, CHOW Winston, CHANG Jiat-Hwee, COURTNEY Chris, Chan Johnny
Internet Life & Lore in Southeast Asia: Histories, Mythologies & Materialities
Description

Internet Life and Lore in Southeast Asia: Histories, Mythologies and Materialities" is a collaboration between ARI, NTU, Yale-NUS, MIT and Trinity University. The aim of the project is to explore the “lives and lore” of four representative ”online connected worlds” in Southeast Asia, anchored by Singapore as the most IT developed site. Studies in other Southeast Asian countries will also be conducted to give the project a regional, comparative dimension. By “lore” we mean what has traditionally been called “folklore” but needs to be reframed in the internet age, when “folk” are now also online. Taking four basic aspects of folklore as our ‘research tracks’ (storytelling, figures, layering, and rumour) the project aims to test how each has changed (or not) given this new communications medium. The project also means to test three hypotheses through this research, namely: (1) That the assumption of a single, global, monolithic Internet needs to be adjusted to account for multiple internets, and that the diversity of Southeast Asia makes it an excellent site to study this phenomenon; (2) That the multiplicity of online connected worlds are productive of new cultures and social groups, whose speciation is undertheorized and understudied by academics around the world, but particularly in Southeast Asia; (3) That the tracking of internet lore, based on insights from folklore studies but also fields like science and technology studies (STS) and information systems, provides a theoretically and empirically fruitful way to study how online communities form, are maintained, and, occasionally, disappear.

Investigators
Gregory CLANCEYConnor GRAHAMEric KERR, ABIDIN Crystal
Asian Biopoleis: Biotech. & Biomedicine as Emergent Forms of Life and Practice
Description

With its Biopolis and related facilities, Singapore has established itself as a globally recognized centre for the development of biotechnology and biomedicine. The knowledge and practices that are emerging here have scientific, medical and economic significance,and are particularly aimed at generating breakthrough biomedical applications and therapies. Their significance does not stop there, however: the emergent forms of life and practice in Singapore and other Asian centres of excellence in biotech research have the potential to affect and re-order everything from the mechanics and meaning of ‘scientific research’ in the 21st century, to contemporary understandings of life, race, ethnicity, nation, and citizenship. It is therefore important that biotechnology/biomedicine initiatives in this part of the world are accompanied by sustained research into their social, historical, cultural, political and philosophical aspects. In this project, carried out by an interdisciplinary team of academics and supported by distinguished overseas collaborators, we trace the historical trajectories of Asian biotechnology, and how these contribute to its strong emergence at the present moment. We also trace networks of collaboration and influence in various areas of biotechnology and the life sciences, as these are developing in Singapore and on pan-Asian and global scales. Finally, we trace connections between the scientific content and the context of biotechnology and biomedical initiatives. Singapore’s Biopolis, for example, is a site for data collection, theorization, experimentation, and material support, but also for policy initiatives, institution-building, and social and educational reform.

Awarding Body: Ministry of Education and Division of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) of the DPRT, NUS

 

Investigators
Gregory CLANCEYVenni Venkata KRISHNAPhilip CHOMONTOYA AlfredCatelijne COOPMANS, Edison LIU, Denisa KERA, Axel GELFERT, John DIMOIA, Karen WINZOSKI
Culture and Cognition
Description

Research in both the social and cognitive sciences has increasingly focused on the complex dynamic between cultural meaning and practices with cognitive processes. From the sociology of science to the anthropology of religion, cultural studies have taken a cognitive turn to explore a wide range of topics including distributed cognition in technological systems, memory and religious rituals, and the neuroeconomics of decisions about risk. Cognitive neuroscientists have likewise begun to more closely examine how culture influences cognition in areas such as perception and attention, healing and placebo effects, language processing and speech disorders, and even the psychosomatics of meditation.

Emerging out of this multidisciplinary interest in culture and cognition is a new understanding of the plasticity of embodiment that emphasizes change in how cultural practices, human cognition and behavior, and even the natural environment influence each other. Cultural change and neurocognitive plasticity are the result of active human agency rather than purely passive inscription by social, technological, or biological systems.

Awarding Body: Asia Research Institute and Fetzer Franklin Trust

 

Investigators
Philip CHO
Death, Grieving and Memorialization in a Broadband–Enabled Society
Description

In broadband-enabled societies people’s experiences of death and death related practices including grieving, mourning and remembrance are being disembedded as communities tied to a traditional notion of place are eroded. However, the rise of networked individualism through broadband technologies and services also supports new connectivities, networks and practices and therefore potential support through networked communities. 

This project is examining particular, situated examples of remembering, memorialising, grieving, recovering, disposing and forgetting and contemporary notions of performance and audience, time and place, membership and publics, sacred and sacrilegious. It is also considering modern trends of communion and networked individualism associated with death and death-related practices.

Researchers:

Connor Graham's work on the project has an Asian focus and includes examining memorials in China and researching suicides on the Tokyo underground system in Japan, both from the point of view of design.

 

Awarding Body: Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society and University of Melbourne, Australia

 

Investigators
Connor GRAHAM
Digital Living and Dying in (South) East Asia
Description

This project considers what it is to live, die and persist in the context of South East Asia and East Asia in a time when people engage in "multiple places of dwelling" (Graham et al., 2013). The project aims to examine practices online and offline, how they interleave and, crucially, how those practices are audienced, consumed and effected in the lives of publics (if at all). The project also aims to historicise current practices and displays through considering the evolution of sociopolitical and socio-technical context such as norms and normativities (e.g. gender), infrastructure and information and communication technology (e.g. mobile phones), ideologies and citizenship. The project's focus is not only on the past; through considering particular figures (e.g. bloggers) as well as technologies (e.g. the digital camera) the project will try to understand contemporary times and practices across different geographies as emerging from both the traditional and the modern. The project will be achieved through focusing on how people, for example celebrities and micro-celebrities, present and assemble themselves and their relations from the point of view of an audience or public, in pictures, in words, online and offline. The project will also examine persistence online and offline: how aging and death are audienced and their associated normativities. This focus of audiencing will serve as a conduit into the lives of young, educated, English speaking people of different genders, ethnicities and religious belief. The results will provide insights into the normativities, visibilities and configurations of a new generation of locally embedded, globally aware, hyperconnected (South) East Asians positioned in the midst of tradition and modernity.

Investigators
Connor GRAHAMEric KERRAlfred MONTOYAJolynna SINANANCrystal ABIDIN
Folklore and Digital Technology in (South) East Asia
Description

Folklore represents ways of thinking, living and being, encompassing traditional beliefs, social networks and the circulation of stories through a variety of channels, digital and analogue. It includes both the living and the dead, connected through networks of different kinds. At its core, is the vernacular and everyday: the quotidian narratives that help sustain networks and make up local culture. This project explores the relationship between folklore and digital technology. The central question of this project is what place, if any, in a time of regional and global integration, technological modernization, and national strategies that extend beyond modernity, folklore has in Southeast Asia and what is its meaning and future trajectory. This leads to the question of what form Southeast Asian folklore takes and its relation to tradition and local knowledge. Our initial contention is that technologies, digital and analogue (such as the mobile phone, the television and the typewriter) occupy the locus of stories and experiences that are antagonistic towards notions of modernity and reason. The project addresses three lines of inquiry.


1. Form and content or the state of folklore: Where is folklore to be found, what is its extent and how it is represented? What are the typologies for folklore, in terms of circulation (e.g. Internet, oral, written), time (e.g. traditional, contemporary), place (e.g. rural, urban), genre (e.g. ghost stories, parables), situatedness (e.g. in conversation), forms of use (e.g. talk), purpose (e.g. to instruct, to preserve) and register (e.g. high culture, vernacular)? How do such digital media and networks relate to folklore (e.g. are they antagonistic)?

2. Context or forces affecting folklore: What factors and forces contribute to the creation and evolution of folklore, what are their consequences and which actors (e.g. the living, digital technology) are implicated?

3. Function with regard to the 'place' of folklore: Cutting across questions (1) and (2), which populations engage with folklore and why? To what extent can folklore be considered a traditional form of knowledge? How are individuals, collectives and societies imagined and sustained through the persistence of folklore and how do digital media and networks play a role? What can such media and networks inform us about how people are conceived, in particular with regard to their mortality?

 

The first line of inquiry is concerned with locating folklore, its forms and its presence and circulation. The second line of inquiry centres on how forces like development and modernisation have impacted the landscape of societies. This question centres on the impact of policies and societal forces and a developing relationship between architectures that have a particular situated meaning. The third line of inquiry probes how folklore can be considered a form of knowledge, cultural form and political commentary and how it is informative about social relations and individual beliefs. It also considers how the convergence of contemporary, interleaving technologies and traditional beliefs represent, envisage and describe people (e.g. as having agency, as being of a certain ethnicity) in relation to folklore. Throughout the three questions we take the position that rather than folklore being located, driven and performed distinctly from digital technologies it is threaded through and transformed through them in a process of mediation and remediation.

 

Investigators
Gregory CLANCEYConnor GRAHAMEric KERR, PHILLIPS John, FISCHER Mike, ABIDIN Crystal, PANG Natalie
Governing Compound Disasters in Urbanizing Asia
Description

The expansion of the Disaster Governance theme has been facilitated by an MOE Tier-2 grant on Governing Compound Disasters in Urbanizing Asia [MOE2014-T2-1-017], awarded in 2014. Led by the AUC, this 3-year multidisciplinary programme involves cooperation with ARI's Asian Urbanisms and Science, Technology and Society cluster. It aims to improve understandings of the changing risks, vulnerabilities, responses and resilience to compounded environmental disasters in an increasingly interconnected urbanizing Asia. Research on Disaster Governance in an age of urban transitions and global climate change has produced extensive international research collaborations and publications, with a longer term objective of establishing Singapore as a centre of leadership in Asia in the growing field of Disaster Studies. The programme is the only university-based disaster research effort in Asia that brings together the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and related technical disciplines.


Our mission:

  • Explore Asia’s diverse urban experiences: historically, contemporaneously, and towards the future
  • Contribute to theory and applied research through comparative studies with other world region
  • Publish research that speaks in transformative ways to urban-related theories, debates and public policy issue
  • Fill missing gaps in humanities and social sciences perspectives
Investigators
Michael DOUGLASS
Impacting Economy and Society: Role of Universities in Asia-Pacific
Description

The rise of Asia in the global knowledge-based economy in the last decade is closely associated with the rise of knowledge institutions of higher learning and scientific research. Even in the midst of an economic down-turn, public policies of the leading economies of Asia continue to assign a very high priority to promote institutions of higher learning and research. In a way, this is closely associated with the success of knowledge-based industries first in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan; and in recent years in China and India. Three features stand out and are indicative of the trend. The first is the tremendous growth of “human and knowledge capital” made possible by teaching and research excellence in the leading universities. Historically speaking, most leading universities in Asia have been performing these roles so as to make an impact on their societies and economies. However what is of significance is the development of a second feature of coupling teaching/research with innovation and at the same time forging university–private sector links with various actors in national systems of innovation (NSI). Universities are being re-positioned as frontiers of innovation in this NSI, given that most new technologies (biotechnology, nano, new materials, ICTs etc.) have become science-based. The third is the impact of globalization or globalization of innovation and the emergence of “new knowledge sites” now extended to the Asian region.

This is a networking collaborative project involving fifteen STS scholars in the Asia-Pacific region. These scholars will contribute country case studies which will result in an edited volume.

Investigators
Venni Venkata KRISHNA, Seeram RAMAKRISHNA
India and China: Scientific Communities to Innovation Systems
Description

The last decade witnessed the rise of China and India as important global players in the world economic system. Quite diverse socio-political and economic strategies were adopted in the organization of science and technology institutions and promotion of higher learning over the last five decades. Despite varying strategies, they shared similar goals of building national scientific and technological capacities towards development and economic growth in the post-war period. The main theme underlying this book project is that science and technology (S&T) systems with varying institutional arrangements are the basic building blocks on which innovation systems emerge over a period of time. The project seeks to advance the existing understanding of innovation systems from an evolutionary perspective by drawing on case studies from India and China. In doing so, the study brings together, for the first time, various facets in state mediation, S&T policy cultures, national, global and other institutional processes in a comparative and historical perspective.

Investigators
Venni Venkata KRISHNA
Research and Innovation Policies - India
Description

The project seeks to map the growth, governance and developments relating to research and innovation policies in the Indian national innovation system. The project is part of the larger networking project involving 27 European countries and five non-European developed and emerging economies such as India, Brazil and China.

Investigators
Venni Venkata KRISHNA