Science and technology studies (STS) is now a mature field in many countries, and it is important to understand its historical and political roots in a wide variety of national contexts. The present contribution to such a vast project links a number of South Korean activist groups involved in a critical reflection upon science and technology in the 1970s and the 1980s to the academic developments of the STS field in the 1990s. A focus on the activist roots of South Korea's STS counterbalances more institutional and less politicized histories of the field; it also enlightens the specificity of critical approaches to science in the context of an emerging power that was a military dictatorship. The authors describe how a group of students and professors, most of whom had been trained as scientists and engineers, created a discussion circle to foster a critical and political discourse on science. They then trace the emergence of the new field through the dissemination of texts and their reception. The academic aspects of Korean STS are then compared, over three periods, with similar currents in Europe and the United States. The conclusion shows that the critique of science that emerged in South Korea took a form substantially different from critiques elsewhere, linking this difference to political and institutional causes.
From Politics to Academics: Political Activism and the Emergence of Science and Technology Studies in South Korea
Mathieu Quet is a full-time researcher at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement and associate researcher at the Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Société. In 2009 he was awarded a PhD by the Centre Koyré for his work on participatory democracy in the field of science and technology in France during the 1970s. His current research focuses on activist movements in science and technology (radical science in the 1970s, France's “antinano” groups, health activism, and the regulation of drug markets in India).
Marianne Noel is the head of international affairs at Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Société (IFRIS) and has been a research engineer at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique since 2002. She holds a PhD in physical chemistry and a master's degree in history of science, technology, and society from the Centre Koyré and has extensive industrial experience. Before joining IFRIS and the Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés, she was scientific attaché at the French embassy in South Korea (2004–8), where she coordinated and supervised joint French-Korean scientific projects. Her research addresses the historical changes in scholarly work at research institutions and universities.
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Mathieu Quet, Marianne Noel; From Politics to Academics: Political Activism and the Emergence of Science and Technology Studies in South Korea. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 June 2014; 8 (2): 175–193. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-2416948
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