'Getting the Science Right': Queensland's Coal Seam Gas Developments and the Engagement with Knowledge, Uncertainty and Environmental Risks
In this seminar Martin outlines the central argument of his PhD project that focuses on the controversy over environmental risks from coal seam gas (CSG) developments. His interests lie especially with the role of the sciences in the context of clashing knowledge claims, persisting uncertainties and unknowns concerning (potential) impacts from CSG extraction. To investigate these aspects of the controversy, Martin conducted ethnographic fieldwork with interlocutors from a variety of backgrounds in the Western Downs region, Queensland's CSG hotspot, and also the urban centres of Toowoomba and Brisbane.
They critically consider the findings from this fieldwork by drawing on a broad repertoire of anthropological and social scientific literature around knowledge, risk and science. In doing so, Martin aims to clarify the role of the sciences and what 'getting the science right' may entail in this context. His primary argument is that we must focus on the merits and limitations of scientific knowledge claims not as value-free, placeless expertise but situated practices that are themselves subject to ongoing negotiations over 'right' and 'wrong' science. With the sciences then ultimately unable to settle the CSG risk controversy for all actors, Martin concludes this seminar by shifting our attention beyond epistemological questions towards a discussion of the politics of (non)knowledge.
About the Presenter
Martin is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental anthropology and his current research focuses on knowledge-related debates regarding the impacts and risks of unconventional coal seam gas developments in regional and rural agricultural regions in Queensland, Australia.