SHEILA JASANOFF is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Previously, she was founding chair of Cornell University’s Department of Science and Technology Studies. At Harvard, she founded and directs the Program on Science, Technology and Society. Jasanoff’s research centers on the interactions of law, science, and politics in democratic societies. She has written more than 100 articles and book chapters and authored or edited more than a dozen books, including The Fifth Branch, Science at the Bar, and Designs on Nature. An edited volume, Dreamscapes of Modernity, was published in 2015. Her newest book, The Ethics of Invention, appeared in 2016.
Jasanoff has held numerous distinguished professorships in the US, Europe, and Japan. She was a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Karl W. Deutsch Guest Professor at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. Her awards include a Guggenheim fellowship, the Austrian Government’s Ehrenkreuz, the George Sarton Chair of the University of Ghent, the Bernal award of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Twente. She is a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. She holds an A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard College, a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Harvard University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Bodies and Selves in the Age of Osiris
The digital age is a time of fragmentation and recombination. Everything we do as individuals and societies leaves traces in the virtual world—traces that can be collected, recombined, analyzed, and acted upon in ways that remain unknown and unknowable to most of us. This is the age of information, of clouds and storage, of undying memories and big data. In the virtual realm, we are at once scattered, like the mythic body of Osiris, and yet recoverable beyond the capacities of normal human memories or traditional archives. To what extent do ancient philosophical ideas of personhood and the self, or more modern legal notions such as privacy, protect those aspects of the self that we may wish to hold apart from the insatiable appetite of the data age? In this talk, I consider particularly the place of law in preserving selfhood when so many forces seem arrayed against the very idea.