I am attending and presenting at the annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), which takes place in the Sheraton Boston Hotel from Wednesday, August 30th to Saturday, September 2, 2017.
My presentation, ‘Nomos and Narrative’: How Law Comes to Know the Science of Brain Injury and Sport, is part of the second panel (#22) dedicated to Science, Technology and Sport. It takes place one Wednesday, August 30th from 2:00pm to 3:30pm in Beacon G (3rd floor) of the conference hotel. The abstract is as follows:
The paper is part of an ongoing socio-legal study of how knowledge about brain injury becomes deployed and understood in different domains of social activity where traumatic brain injury is a growing concern. Sport offers one such site for inquiry, especially in light of recent litigation involving professional sport leagues in North America. Lawsuits related to professional football and hockey have encouraged greater public scrutiny of potential risks and dangers of concussion. Although neuroscientific evidence emerges as a way to explain the effects of this kind of injury and justify demands for compensation, many researchers and sports medicine practitioners characterize scientific findings as emergent at best. This paper examines how interpretations of neuroscientific knowledge become constitutive elements within the creation of legal narratives and myths, both of which, as Robert Cover argues in his seminal piece, “Nomos and Narrative,” are essential to the normative world of law. Here, I draw on legal case analysis, archival research, and qualitative interviews with legal and scientific experts to attend to the strategies that different actors evoke to describe and make sense of the nature, scope, and effects of brain injury. I also consider how actors involved in litigation render sport as a field, itself arguably a distinct normative universe. In doing so, this analysis takes a break from common STS approaches that focus on the material conditions of science and technology to instead ask: how do legal narratives, particularly those related to sport, contribute to the materialization of brain injury as a condition in the world?