Speakers 2018

We are pleased to announce Dr. Thomas Gieryn as keynote speaker for the 2018 Qualitatives.

Thomas F. Gieryn is Rudy Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington, where he is also Adjunct Professor of History & Philosophy of Science.  He began his professorial career at Indiana in 1978 after completing his PhD in Sociology at Columbia University, and has remained at the University ever since, serving as chair in the Department of Sociology (2005-08) and as Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs (2009 until his retirement in 2015, at which time he was awarded the Provost’s Medal for his 37 years of meritorious contributions to Indiana University Bloomington).  He has served as doctoral dissertation advisor for more than 20 PhD degrees at Indiana and elsewhere, and was presented with the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Indiana University in 1994. 


Gieryn’s book Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility On the Line was published in 1999 by the University of Chicago Press.  The book won the Robert K. Merton Prize from the Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology of the American Sociological Association, and his concept of “boundary-work” has been cited more than 6000 times since its introduction in 1983.  His forthcoming book titled Truth-Spots: How Places Make People Believe (U Chicago Press, 2018), pulls together his interest in the geography and architecture of sites for making scientific knowledge.  His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  He has been invited to present his research more than 80 times at conferences and universities around the world.  He was a Resident Member at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) in 1996-97, and elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and elected to the Sociological Research Association (both in 2001).  He has served as Collaborating Editor at Social Studies of Science since 1984, and on the advisory board for the exhibition “Science in American Life” at the Smithsonian Museum in 1990-94.  He is a Founding Member (1976) of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), and served on its Council (1982-4) and as Secretary-Treasurer (1985-88).  He has served as a Review Panelist for the STS program at the National Science Foundation, and has been a member of external review committees at Cornell University, University of California at San Diego, University of Pennsylvania, Louisiana State University, University of Southern California and Maastricht University.

Keynote Lecture: "Truth-Spots:  How Places Make People Believe"
How do some places lend legitimacy or credibility to beliefs or claims about the natural/social world, identity, history and memory, the future?  Truth-Spots visits oracles, tourist sites, museums, botanical gardens, laboratories and field-sites, pilgrimage destinations, commemorated birthplaces of identity-based social movements, courthouses--and Walden Pond.   The geographic location of a place—along with materialities encrusted on that spot, and narrations of the place that give it meaning and value—combine to affirm or persuade a visitor that a claim or assertion from there is believable and real.  The story begins at Delphi in Ancient Greece and ends at the ultra clean laboratory of the scientist who persuaded Congress to get lead out of gasoline.