Beyond Imported Magic. Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America

The essays in this volume study the creation, adaptation, and use of science and technology in Latin America. They challenge the view that scientific ideas and technology travel unchanged from the global North to the global South—the view of technology as “imported magic.”

The essays in this volume study the creation, adaptation, and use of science and technology in Latin America. They challenge the view that scientific ideas and technology travel unchanged from the global North to the global South—the view of technology as “imported magic.” They describe not only alternate pathways for innovation, invention, and discovery but also how ideas and technologies circulate in Latin American contexts and transnationally. The contributors’ explorations of these issues, and their examination of specific Latin American experiences with science and technology, offer a broader, more nuanced understanding of how science, technology, politics, and power interact in the past and present.

The essays in this book use methods from history and the social sciences to investigate forms of local creation and use of technologies; the circulation of ideas, people, and artifacts in local and global networks; and hybrid technologies and forms of knowledge production. They address such topics as the work of female forensic geneticists in Colombia; the pioneering Argentinean use of fingerprinting technology in the late nineteenth century; the design, use, and meaning of the XO Laptops created and distributed by the One Laptop per Child Program; and the development of nuclear energy in Argentina, Mexico, and Chile.

Pedro Ignacio Alonso, Morgan G. Ames, Javiera Barandiarán, João Biehl, Anita Say Chan, Amy Cox Hall, Henrique Cukierman, Ana Delgado, Rafael Dias, Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Mariano Fressoli, Jonathan Hagood, Christina Holmes, Matthieu Hubert, Noela Invernizzi, Michael Lemon, Ivan da Costa Marques, Gisela Mateos, Eden Medina, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Hugo Palmarola, Tania Pérez-Bustos, Julia Rodriguez, Israel Rodríguez-Giralt, Edna Suárez Díaz, Hernán Thomas, Manuel Tironi, Dominique Vinck

About the Editors
Eden Medina is Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, Bloomington, and the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile.

Ivan da Costa Marques is Associate Professor in the graduate school of História das Ciências e das Técnicas e Epistemologia (HCTE) at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

Christina Holmes is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

"At one level the term ‘beyond imported magic’ situates this collection as a contribution to the critique of the traditional North-South diffusionist stories of science and technology, but at another level the essays take the reader beyond the ‘imported magic’ of Northern theories of STS. By connecting us with the reflexive and critical voices of Latin American STS scholarship, this book is a great introduction to contemporary modes of rethinking STS from Latin American perspectives.”"—David J. Hess, Sociology, Vanderbilt University

"This astonishing collection provides for both science and technology studies and postcolonial students and scholars valuable new pathways for thinking and illuminatingly different conceptual approaches. These authors usher in a much-needed expansive era for historians, philosophers, sociologists, political theorists, and ethnographers of science as well as for readers in other fields. I can't wait to teach it."—Sandra Harding, Distinguished Professor, Departments of Education and Gender Studies, University of California, Los Angeles; Distinguished Affiliate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University; and author of Sciences from Below

"In this enchanting book, leading scholars conjure up surprising and gripping new configurations of science and technology in Latin America. These essays reveal brilliantly how local and regional histories haunt so-called global scientific projects. Beyond Imported Magic brings Latin America into contemporary conversations about what makes technoscience appear so worldly and cosmopolitan, even as it is experienced as situated and place-bound in practice. This book will cast a spell on anyone who wants to understand the multiple ways in which we try, and often fail, to be both modern and global."—Warwick Anderson, University of Sydney, author of The Collectors of Lost Souls

"This exciting and thought-provoking volume shows how analyzing Latin America through an STS lens allows us to peer more closely at known histories and uncover new and in some cases existing but understudied connections. Once we divest ourselves of outdated adjectives such as ‘peripheral’ to explain the role of Latin America in science we invariably begin to see the region as a center with a long history of scientific production and with the many complexities that this entails. By placing Latin America into longer narratives of (redefined or reemphasized) scientific research, the authors crucially demonstrate science as ever-present and not a relatively new, imported phenomena of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries."—Gabriela Soto Laveaga, author of Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill