In October 2018, two research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.
Q. Dr Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, which aspect of Expertise Under Pressure do you find most exciting?
I was attracted to the project by its interdisciplinary outlook. Expertise is a frontier-object. It has always been uncomfortable for me to study it from only one disciplinary angle. That’s why it is really exciting to work with a team coming from different backgrounds, disciplines and intellectual traditions. As an historian, the fact that the project adopts both a descriptive and analytical, but also a normative and practical perspective is challenging but also really stimulating.
Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions?
I am broadly interested in the practical consequences of ideas. Are social scientists influential? How could we characterise this influence? In other words, do ideas change the world? I work more specifically on social scientists’ expertise in the legal arena. In this context, the temporality and translation of expertise, from academia to the courtrooms, as well as the ambivalence and responsibility of those who provide it, has been fiercely debated and, to some extent, formally codified. Historical analysis offers insights into failures and successes of influence. History also helps to uncover the practical consequences of the type of knowledge that gains attention, especially when implemented via socio-economic devices such as measurements, indicators or decision models.
Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change?
I hope the Centre will foster changes on how expertise is practiced, including expertise that develops within the center itself. Reflexivity is at the core of what humanities can contribute to the practical side of policymaking. I am looking forward to the creative alliances and knowledge dynamics that will emerge from the original institutional arrangement that the Centre creates.
From left to right: Robert Doubleday, Anna Alexandrova, Emily So, Michael Kenny
Meet the Expertise Under Pressure Team
• Dr Anna Alexandrova, Principal Investigator
• Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Investigator
• Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator
• Dr Robert Doubleday, Co-Investigator
• Dr Hannah Baker, Research Associate
• Dr Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate
• Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate
• Katie Cohen, Research Assistant