The Quebec Nanotech: The conquest of the infinitely small as seen by researchers

Céline Lafontaine
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
1 - 2:30 PM
CNS Conference Room, Girvetz 2620
Céline Lafontaine

Professeur agrégée, Département de sociologie

Université de Montréal

Abstract: This presentation is based on a series of interviews with 20 Canadian nanotechnology researchers, focusing primarily on the economic, political and epistemological issues relating to the delineation of the nanotechnology field. Canadian researchers are attuned to the problems associated with defining their field but, as we shall see, they are also transforming and adapting their definitions to suit various different contexts. These researchers present a wide range of points of view on the expansion of the nanotechnologies: some criticize while others speak enthusiastically and yet others express their concern. From one researcher to the next and from one field to another, their perspectives contradict each other, and their adherence to the strategic plans set out by the Canadian government is all but wholehearted. By considering these researchers’ points of view, we shed light on the issues of the “nano revolution,” particularly in regard to the very concept of what constitutes scientific research.

Céline Lafontaine is an associate professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Montréal. She holds a PhD in sociology from University Paris 1 (Sorbonne-Panthéon). Her research examines the social, cultural and symbolic aspects of the technosciences. Her doctoral dissertation on cybernetics and the informational paradigm led her to take interest in the development of new information technologies and biotechnology. Her work deals with epistemological, cultural, social and ethical issues. In addition to leading a research program on the imaginative scope of the nanotechnologies, she is currently researching advances in biomedicine, specifically the social issues of regenerative medicine and nanomedicine.