Dr Malin Ah-King (Stockholm University, Sweeden) – The ”Female Turn” in Evolutionary Biology – a science study of shifting canonical knowledge 1980-2000

Co-presented by Philosophy & the School of Life Sciences University of Dundee

Wednesday 5 June 2019, 3pm in the Sir Kenneth and Lady Noreen Murray Seminar Room, CTIR

How have views about females shifted in the international research community of evolutionary biologists? Females were long expected to be coy and to gain no benefit from mating with more than one male. Since 1980, evolutionary biologists’ views have undergone a radical shift following the findings that females often mate with multiple males. Early polyandry research was male-focused, followed by increased interest in questions pertaining to females. The project aims at understanding the histories, social dynamics and epistemological norms producing this shift in canonical knowledge.

I have conducted oral history interviews with researchers in the field and made a cultural cartography of the “Female turn” in Evolutionary biology – to outline the history of females in sexual selection and how view on females were upheld and challenged. Assumptions about females shifted from monogamous to multiple mating and from passive to active. What theoretical, empirical, technical innovations or societal changes enabled these shifting views? I use epistemology of ignorance to understand how and why diverse forms of knowledge have not formed or are ignored or delayed.

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