COMPASS – A Research Hub on Knowledge Circulation

Older compass against a grey background.
Boat compass from Smithsonians collections/National Museum of American History. Harold Dorwin

COMPASS is a research hub devoted to the study of knowledge in motion. It is named after an artifact that transports and packages knowledge, and as a patented invention embodies the control of knowledge, the order and segmentation of space in legal as well as material form. A compass is both metaphor for movement and the concrete object directing that movement. 

With COMPASS we want to establish a home for interdisciplinary studies of the multiple ways by which the creation and circulation of knowledge is enabled and disabled. COMPASS is based on the premise that the conditions of this circulation can be approached as a dynamics between forms and norms of knowledge.

Forms and norms of knowledge

While text remains central for the dissemination of knowledge, the material and medial conditions for writing, editing, reviewing, publishing, and reading texts are today being transformed, which affects the shaping of knowledge both within and outside academia. Knowledge also travels in bodies and objects, through performances and exhibitions, in spoken and recorded form.

The multiplicity of forms is matched by a multiplicity of norms: from artisanal knowledge guilds to non-disclosure agreements, from shrink-wrap clicking to open access, forms and norms of knowledge co-exist in various materialities and various regulatory practices.

COMPASS sits in the intersection where texts, performances, images and objects clash and co-exist with norms, regulation, classification, informal and formal modes of control and dissemination regarding the mediatic molding and circulation of knowledge.

To promote innovative curculation of knowledge

As a research hub, COMPASS aims to connect researchers, arrange high-quality seminars and promote innovative circulation of knowledge.

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Knowledge in motion: Between forms and norms

That knowledge circulates, or perhaps rather, is supposed to circulate, seems obvious. But packaged in what forms, and under what conditions and norms?

Together with Tema Culture and Society and the OA journal Culture Unbound COMPASS will give the graduate course Knowledge in Motion: Between Forms and Norms during the 2022 Spring term.

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