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Title: The socio-politic of a relic : carbon dating the Turin Shroud
Author: Laverdiere, H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 9910
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 1989
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The Michelin guide to Italy gives it 3 stars. It is probably the most widely known Christian relic. It is kept in a brownish chapel in Turin's Cathedral, next to the Palazzo Reale. The present Pope, John Paul II, is said to have a longstanding special interest in it. On the few occasions when it has been displayed in the last centuries, millions of visitors have been to view it. Dominique Lapierre, when relating his experience of working and living with the poor in Calcutta (cf: La Cite de la Joie), described its image as the sustaining force which enabled him to cope with his hardship. It has also attracted some attention from less christian groups, like, for example, the "Rolling Stones Magazine", which had an article on it, titled "The first polaroid in Palestine". There was even a musical about it, on 52nd Street, New-York It is the Shroud of Turin. It has a long history of scientific testing, a fact about which both the proponents of its authenticity, and the disclaimers agree. Agreement between these groups is a rare occurence, as we shall see later. "Never in all history has a religious relic been subjected to such thorough scientific scrutinity. " (Mueller, 1982: 17) "... the most intensive and varied scrutinity by scientific means of any archaeological or art object in history" (Meacham, 1983: 283) This thesis deals with the scientific investigation it generated and more specificaly the carbon dating test which was performed in 1988 and was seen by most as the test to end all tests. (For a brief description of the events surrounding the carbon dating test, see table 1, at the end of this chapter. ) It deals with it from the point of view of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (S. S. K. ). Since the beginning of the 1970's, S. S. K. has provided a new way of looking at scientific controversies. In this perspective science is treated not as a neutral dispenser of 'truths' but as a means of mediating the apprehension of the world The impetus, and legitimacy, for such a move came mostly from the works of Wittgenstein, underlying the historicity of scientific and logical laws (but see also Bachelard and Canguillhem) and the works of Kuhn, showing the role of paradigms. Within the new perspective, science emerged as a cultural activity, where-the 'cultural' aspects could no longer be seen as 'defects' but as an integral part of the activity, as tools for the ordering of what we know as reality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available