Material Cultures, Epistemic Cultures. Standards, Cognitive Practices and Knowledge


CIUHCT participation

Antonio Sanchez


Autonomous University of Madrid and Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness




This project explores some confluence and intersection areas between material culture and epistemic cultures. It aims at developing an appropriate epistemology for the epistemic extensions. We mean by "epistemic extensions" all the elements that constitute the material environment of the epistemic agents, the items through which these agents organize and develop their practices of knowledge production and distribution. The project is centred on two focal points: first, it aims at drawing up an appropriate notion of epistemic dependence; secondly, it addresses the role played by the processes of standardization and normalization in the shaping of material culture within epistemic contexts such as science and technology. One of the assumptions guiding this proposal is that the epistemic assessments in complex contexts of research organization that require epistemic reliance benefit from (and, under certain circumstances, encourage) the development of a set of standards. Standards are ubiquitous; they permeate many areas of our social life; they are supposed to help with their regulation and calibration. This is why they have been studied as crucial elements in the strategies of homogenization, bureaucratization or rationalization of society. However, the study of standards as         epistemic tools, particularly promoted in certain social and political contexts, has been one of the most neglected aspects in epistemology. This projects aims at remedying this issue through the study, among other aspects, of different examples of standardization in societies with imperial ambitions.