Technoscientific identities: Muslims and the culture of curiosity

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Title: Technoscientific identities: Muslims and the culture of curiosity
Author: Lotfalian, Mazyar
Advisor: Marcus, George E.
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Abstract: Technoscientific identities in the Islamic world are changing. The recent resurgence of Islam has raised a new understanding of the West. In contrast to the view that the transmission of Islamic medieval sciences to the West has resulted in a continuity of Islamic values in Western science, an understanding of the West as an epoch has emerged, allowing Muslims to rethink the presumed value and culture free basis of technoscience. The ephocal view of the West sees it as based on a set of inter-related phenomenon, including a secularized Christianity and notions of rationality, progress and a universalist subjectivity. A radical critique of Western secular and universal technoscientific identity is shown to be emerging, drawing on both the critical rethinking of the foundations of technoscience and on the experiences and practices of actors bound by different contexts out of which different ideas spring forth and are enacted. Radical critique deconstructs existing technoscientific formations through invocations of the Islamic metaphysical foundation of knowledge as well as its eschatological structure of change. It is also a reconstructive force insofar as it opens the way of constructing new forms of technoscientific identities out of existing experiences and institutions. A transnational landscape delineates the terrain, where scientists and engineers play important social and political roles. Institution building and other scientific activities become subject to different global and local modalities of interaction. Through the mobility of individuals and institutions in the transnational landscape, ideas and discourses travel from one locality to another via frames of abstraction. An ethnographically informed understanding of these sites reveals contested tropes of technoscientific identities. Instead of relying on pure forms, radical critique engages in developing a critical and performative view of this condition and acts as a resource to form the basis for a new culture of curiosity.
Citation: Lotfalian, Mazyar. (1999) "Technoscientific identities: Muslims and the culture of curiosity." Doctoral Thesis, Rice University.
Date: 1999

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