Embodying a caring science: an ethnographic analysis of the communicative practices of a Colombian trans-woman scientist in online media.

This project seeks to examine the communicative practices performed by a trans woman scientific in Colombia when is called to talk about environmental issues in the Colombian media. Empirically, this research is based on an ethnography of communicative practices of Brigitte Baptiste, biologist, trans woman, director of the National Institute of Biodiversity, Alexander von Humboldt. The communicative practices that I am analyzing are those that Baptiste performs intentionally and that can be traced in different online media platforms. I support the analysis on the feminist critique of science particularly I see this communicative practices as examples of an ethos of care in science and technology.

 

Following feminist discussions on care (Arango-Gaviria & Molinier, 2011), the methodological goals of this research are to describe, evaluate, and reflect upon the communicative practices performed by Brigitte Baptiste that are related to her area of expertise (biodiversity). In particular, I will focus on those practices found in different online media platforms from 2008 to 20125. These goals will be achieved through a feminist ethnographic content analysis of these cultural products. Through this analysis I will seek to understand how the public presence of Baptiste in these platforms constitutes an act or practice of care, and in particular through which tactics and communicative mechanisms this is possible. This analysis will be supported by in-depth interviews with Baptiste, with a selection of her colleagues and subordinates at the Humboldt Institute, and with environmental and LGBTI rights activists. Comments of the public attending to the events focused on, or from readers of the articles, will also be a central part of the analysis. This information will serve as the empirical base from which to achieve the third specific objective.

 

To situate the findings of this study I will review published research focused on comprehending public understandings and perceptions of environment and transgender people in Colombia or comparable countries. The information will be coded using Atlas-Ti, taking as a starting point the reflections upon “matters of care in science and technology” elaborated by Puig de la Bellacasa (2011). The preliminary findings of the research will be socialized and discussed with Baptiste. No paper will be published without her consent.