[Asis-l] Re: call for new sig interest and membership--interdisciplinary "critical theory"

R.L. Hunsucker (UvA/UBA) hunsucker at uba.uva.nl
Mon Oct 28 09:08:31 EST 2002

May I make two very brief comments concerning this most interesting
question ?

-  It seems to me that the great value of the term "human sciences"
is that it incorporates both "social sciences" and "humanities". Such
a term (and concept) is welcome and IMHO nowadays indeed essential.
The epistemological progress of the last few decades would, I hope,
suggest that many of you will agree on this. I see no added value in
using "human sciences" as an alternative for "humanities" and then
contrasting social to human.

-  Regarding HFIS, I'll have to agree with Michel -- or rather more
precisely, with his implication that in principle there should be no
need for a new SIG along the lines suggested. I would even go
further and argue that it should almost necessarily be more
beneficial and effective for all parties concerned to (further)
integrate the (extremely important) concerns expressed below by
RD into the thinking and activities of an existing SIG which after
all already claims to be concerned with "fundamental concepts",
"theoretical frameworks" and "philosophical, semiological, ...
psychological and sociological disciplines" -- and, I would hope,
with a 'critical' orientation toward all of these. (Whatever may have
developed over the years as received practice.) To do otherwise
seems a less fruitful route toward dialogue (much needed) and an
encouragement of fragmentation and perhaps even factionalism.

With apologies for this intervention by a concerned observer who is
for practical reasons only a *former* member of the society.

At 22:27 25-10-02 -0400, you wrote:
>Dear Michel,
>    Thank you for your good questions.  Let me briefly reply.  I am not sure
>that these answers will satisfy you, but you have asked your questions,
>addressed to me, in public forums, so I will answer you the best that I can.
>I must emphasize that these are my answers, however, not that of a SIG that
>doesn't yet exist.
>    1)  This initiative comes not only from my own interests, but also
>requests by others, particular at the workshop on conceptual and critical
>issues at the recent CoLIS4 conference.  I am not operating alone on this.
>    2) HFIS's recent and current focus in the direction of traditional
>historical works and in "founders" in information science has produced
>extremely important research on these topics, but it doesn't exhaust, nor
>even at times address, our focus with this new SIG. I have been a member of
>the HFIS SIG for several years, and before that was working and publishing
>in the area, so I don't feel uncomfortable making such a statement and in
>praising and admiring the work of the HFIS SIG and the people involved and
>leading it. In this regard, I am in agreement with Tony Debons' recent reply
>to your message.
>    For example, there doesn't seem to be much room for critical
>historiographical, rhetorical, and many other "perspectives" within the
>category of "foundations" nor the HFIS take on historical research.  And, if
>one wanted to do work on psychoanalysis and information, would this fit into
>HFIS?  How about German hermeneutics? cultural studies? feminism?
>post-structural philosophy?  political economy (especially, say, what I'll
>broadly call, "Marxist" readings of political economy)?  In terms of topics:
>new social movements and their relation to ICTs? the social meaning of
>"information" and ICTs?  the relation between political and symbolic
>economies in the recent dot.coms or in IS funding?  the language or
>vocabulary of IS?  open source software and political economies of
>information?  information as accumulation?  the multiple issues involved
>with gendered uses of ICTs?  These, of course, are just a few of the
>"perspectives" (or as they like to say, "approaches"--both terms I find
>rather patronizing and purposefully off the point) and problematics that I
>see the new SIG addressing (and I certainly am not posing this list as
>defining of the new SIG; rather, your questions are addressed to me before
>the SIG has been formed, so I am answering largely from interests that I am
>most familiar with).
>    I am not sure that HFIS or any of the other current ASIST SIGS are that
>open to the totality of these overlapping questions, and certainly not as
>HFIS is oriented right now or has been in the recent past. I want to
>emphasize that the purpose of the new SIG is to create room not only for
>people to work within the field, but to make room for their vocabulary
>within the field.  Particularly on the issue of allowing new vocabulary, a
>new SIG is needed.
>    These aren't just particular "approaches," but rather, overlapping
>traditions, vocabularies and conceptual tools that are used throughout the
>social and human sciences, but which, for the most part, have been excluded
>from the (L)IS domain, especially in the UK and, particularly, in the U.S..
>I don't see the discourses in "critical theory" that have developed in the
>past 80 or so years as being a "narrow" "subject," not in terms of
>vocabulary or in terms of public discourses in various countries or in terms
>of other fields in the social and human sciences.  I am not sure what
>"public" you are referring to in your message.  If it is that of (L)IS as it
>is currently configured, especially in the U.S., then my argument is that it
>is the purpose of such societies as ASIST to grow and change in regard to
>current research, both inside and outside the currently defined field, and
>in relation to the "social" globally.  The respons-ibility of such a society
>is to listen carefully and to respond, both within and beyond its currently
>defined borders on the topics of its interest.  Otherwise, it dies.  And if
>you mean by "public" only the ASIST community as it is currently defined,
>then let's see if we can get the 50 people to make a formal SIG to address
>our needs.  Why not?  Who knows, maybe if we get it formed we can even get a
>few new members into ASIST!
>    3)  You write that you are supportive of "all" (and thus, I conclude of
>this one) of what you term a "manifestation" (a word that can be read
>variously in different languages--an appearance, a protest, or an event (I
>would prefer the first and third, and then the second)).  Are you then
>'on-board' with support for this new SIG? It would be wonderful to have your
>"manifestation" in this regard, as well as that of others who may be unsure.
>If so, please tell me; we need 50 people, and the more, the better.
>Best wishes, Ron Day
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Michel J. Menou" <Michel.Menou at wanadoo.fr>
>To: <sighfis-l-admin at asis.org>; "Ron Day" <ronday at wayne.edu>
>Cc: <asis-l at asis.org>; <sigah-l at asis.org>; <sighfis-l at asis.org>;
><sigkm-l at asis.org>; <sigcr-l at asis.org>; <sigtis-l at asis.org>;
><eurchap at asis.org>
>Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 12:38 PM
>Subject: Re: [Sighfis-l] call for new sig interest and
>membership--interdisciplinary "critical theory"
>> Ron,
>> While I fully support the manifestation of all energies and innovative
>> endeavours, I cannot resist friendly questions:
>> 1) what is the difference in scope between this proposed SIG and HFIS?
>> 2) is not is better to develop your action within the exisitng SIG(s)
>> rather than creating a new one, especially on a relatively "narrow" -
>> public wise at least, subject.
>> Best regards
>> Michel J. Menou                Mail to: Michel.Menou at wanadoo.fr
>> Friday, October 25, 2002, 3:54:14 AM, you wrote:
>> RD> Apologies for cross-posting across the various SIG lists...
>> RD> ___________________________________
>> RD> SIG-CRIT investigates conceptual issues in information science and
>studies using philosophical, historiographical, rhetorical, social, and
>cultural approaches within a broad, interdisciplinary
>> RD> framework of "critical theory."  The purpose of this SIG is to bring
>together researchers in these areas, to create connections between various
>research agendas and national traditions, and to
>> RD> create an intellectually deeper and socially richer interdisciplinary
>dialogue between information science and other fields in the social and
>human sciences.
>> snip
>Register for the ASIST Annual Meeting:
>Asis-l mailing list
>Asis-l at asis.org

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Laval Hunsucker
hunsucker at uba.uva.nl


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