Science, Technology & Human Values
Manuel Tironi, Instituto de Sociología, P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. CIGIDEN – National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management
This article explores how citizen participation was methodologically devised and materially articulated in the postdisaster reconstruction of Constitución, one of the most affected cities after the earthquake and tsunami that battered south central Chile in 2010. I argue that the techniques deployed to engineer the participation were arranged as a policy experiment where a particular type of public was provoked—one characterized by its emotional detachment, political engagement, and social tolerance. The case of Constitución, however, also shows that this public ran parallel to other forms of being a public not aligned with the experiment’s assumptions. More broadly, the article argues that while disaster studies need to acknowledge the generative capacities of public participation, science and technology studies should include disasters as a particular setting for participatory experiments.