1st Edition

Evidence in Action between Science and Society Constructing, Validating, and Contesting Knowledge

Edited By Sarah Ehlers, Stefan Esselborn Copyright 2023
    288 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume is an interdisciplinary attempt to insert a broader, historically informed perspective into current political and academic debates on the issue of evidence and the reliability of scientific knowledge.

    The tensions between competing paradigms, different bodies of knowledge and the relative hierarchies between them are a crucial element of the historical and contemporary dynamics of scientific knowledge production. The negotiation of evidence is at the heart of this process. Starting from the premise that evidence constitutes a central, but also essentially contested concept in contemporary knowledge-based societies, this volume focuses on how evidence is generated and applied in practice—in other words, on “evidence in action.” The contributions analyze and compare different evidence practices within the field of science and technology, how they interlink with different forms of power, their interaction with and impact on the legal and political domain, and their relationship to other, more heterodox forms of evidence that challenge traditional notions of evidence. In doing so, this volume provides much-needed context and historical background to contemporary debates on the so-called “post-truth” society.

    Evidence in Action is the perfect resource for all those interested in the relationship between science, technology, and the role of knowledge in society.


    Chapter 6 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons [Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)] 4.0 license.

    1. Introduction: Evidence in Action

    Sarah Ehlers and Stefan Esselborn

    Part I: Establishing Evidence: The Formation of Disciplinary Cultures

    2. War, Wheat, and Crop Diseases of the Late Enlightenment: Contesting and Producing Evidence in Agriculture in Great Britain

    John Lidwell-Durnin

    3. Presenting Chemical Practice in Court: Forensic Toxicology in Nineteenth-Century German States

    Marcus B. Carrier

    4. No "Mere Accumulation of Material": Fieldwork Prctices and Embedded Evidence in Early (Latin) Americanist Anthropology

    Julia E. Rodriguez

    Part II: Innovating Evidence: Contemporary Technoscientific Approaches

    5. Prototyping Evidence: How Artifacts Demonstrate Technological Futures

    Sascha Dickel

    6. On Top of the Hierarchy: How Guidelines Shape Systematic Reviewing in Biomedicine

    Alexander Schniedermann, Clemens Blümel, and Arno Simons

    7. On the (Im)possibility of Identifying the Evidence Base of the Impact of Star Architecture Projects

    Nadia Alaily-Mattar, Diane Arvanitakis, Martina Löw, and Alain Thierstein

    Part III: Governing Evidence: Evidence-Based Practice and Politics

    8. The Thing We Call Evidence: Toward a Situated Ontology of Evidence in Policy

    Kari Lancaster and Tim Rhodes

    9. "Drawing Thresholds That Make Sense": Diagrammatic Evidence and Urgency in Automatic Outbreak Detection

    Steffen Krämer

    10. Producing Migration Knowledge: From Big Data to Evidence-Based Policy?

    Laura Stielike

    Part IV: Contesting Evidence: The Politics of Heterodox Evidence

    11. Fearful Narratives: Evidence Production in the Visual Rhetoric of the Historic Anti-vaccine Movement in the German States

    Christiane Arndt

    12. The Politics of Evidence: State Secrecy, Ambiguity, and Counterforensic Practice in "Missing Persons" Cases in Pakistan

    Salman Hussain

    13. Digital Ethnographic Art(i)Facts as Evidence: Anthropological Entanglements between Techne and Episteme

    Anna Apostolidou


    Sarah Ehlers is a postdoctoral researcher working on the global history of medicine, science and the environment at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology at the Deutsches Museum and an affiliated researcher at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

    Stefan Esselborn is a postdoctoral researcher at the Professur für Technikgeschichte at the Technical University of Munich. He is writing and teaching on topics in the fields of global and colonial history, the history of science and technology, the history of knowledge and expertise, and the history of risk and safety.