Not long ago I came across a fascinating article in the The Lancet that I would like to share with those of you who are interested in design studies and/or science and technology studies. This succinct but rich essay was written by Columbia University and Barnard College professor Lesley Sharp, who by training is a cultural anthropologist. The article is based on her ethnographic research with bio-engineers and other specialists working on new innovations in the field of organ transplantation. While my own work has nothing to do with medicine or science I found this article’s theoretical framework extremely fruitful for thinking about the relationship between culture—discussed here as both cultural, communal, and institutional—and innovation. Central to Sharp’s thesis is a distinction between ethics and morality, which I encourage any young scholar interested in the study of intimate social processes, like the every-day experimental activities of engineers, teachers, or artists, to take a close look out.
See: Sharp, Lesley A. (2009) Bioengineered Bodies and the Moral Imagination. The Lancet. 374 (9694): 970-971.