What counts as scientific knowledge is often a subject of popular controversies and yet science is commonly understood as being too complex for public engagement. In his book Contested Knowledge about risk controversies in Kerala, Shiju Sam Varughese contends with this particular paradox. The book explores the social dynamics that transform the nature and substance of scientific truths and in turn highlights the central role that the media now plays in the making and unmaking of expert knowledge. In particular the book maps the mediation, or ‘medialisation’ as the author calls it, of day-to-day interactions between ordinary readers, journalists and scientific institutions to demonstrate the presence, and an ever growing influence, of a ‘scientific public sphere’ in the South Indian State. Rich in empirical details and crisply edited, Contested Knowledge shows how the Malayalam press has emerged both as a site for establishing expert hierarchies as well as an arena for negotiations among the various stakeholders in the scientific domain in Kerala.
March 2018, volume 42, No 3