Cathrine Hasse

An Anthropology of Learning in Epistemic Cultures

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I connect Karin Knorr-Cetina's concept of ‘epistemic cultures’ with an anthropological conceptualization of practice-based learning. The theory of practice-based learning I explore departs from the cultural psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s notion of word-meaning which can be seen as a basic unit of analysis in cultural historical activity theory. However in relation to practice-based learning it is necessary further to explore how newcomers learn to perceive ‘epistemic objects’ in a complex process where learning concerns how material artefacts and meaning are connected in actual doing as well as learning what not to do.
If ‘epistemic cultures’ in science create and warrant knowledge we may follow in closer detail how newcomers as physics students learn to create and warrant knowledge through everyday practices, which over time teach them new words and new meanings tied to words and bodily (re)actions. Following the practice-based cultural learning process of physicists students it become clear that processes of (de) selecting students are behind epistemic cultures. In this perspective epistemic cultures are dynamic processes of in – and exclusions, attraction and expulsion of materials, words and imaginaries. And inherently tied to learning cultures.
I shall argue that these learning cultures may be understood from a cultural historical perspective as (thought) collectives that are always in the making and that processes of becoming may be studied by participation in the student activities. It is from this perspective numbers and words like ‘exact‘ and images of particles takes on new meaning and thoughts about future research and research questions are forged.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEpistemic and Learning Cultures : Wohin sich Universitäten entwickeln
EditorsInes Langemeyer, Martin Fischer, Michaela Pfadenhauer
Number of pages11
Place of publicationWeinheim
PublisherJuventa Verlag
Publication year2015
Pages34-45
Chapter3
ISBN (print)978-3-7799-3277-2
StatePublished - 2015

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