Commentary on the current and future state of the field or subfields within science and technology studies. Can include interviews, meditations on particular concepts or methods, biography / autobiography, essays, and other more personal and less formal writings.
Michael Penkler / 27 March, 2017The media’s fascination with bodyweight is at least partly tied to how it allows for the fabrication of moral stories. “Fat avalanche,” “land of the fat,” “Our society is getting sicker and fatter,” “ticking time bomb:” Austrian newspaper are not stingy with hyperbole when it comes to reporting on the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’. But such media stories turn out not to be just stories about a biomedical condition, but also stories about society and its moral state. They offer what we have termed ‘diagnostic narratives’: narratives that not only frame a particular health phenomenon in a specific way but that produce at the same time a diagnosis of society. In reporting on how “we” get “fatter and fatter,” they offer a story of moral decline, in which the loss of traditional values and social orders is blamed for a society in disarray that results in broadening waistlines. Importantly, the seemingly objective terrain of health reporting allows to formulate a fairly conservative critique of contemporary society and calls for returns to traditional orders (like for moms to stay at home with their children) that would not be as easily formulated in other contexts.
Helen Verran / 13 March, 2017Helen Verran, for the second entry in the series on "Alternative Histories and Practices of STS", reports about Leigh Star's distributed self in Aboriginal Australia.
Neil Stephens and Rebecca Dimond / 07 March, 2017Dr. Neil Stephens and Dr Rebecca Dimond discuss their recent ESTS paper, "Debating CRISPR/cas9 and Mitochondrial Donation: Continuity and Transition Performances at Scientific Conferences."
Brian Hamilton and Rachel Gross / 27 February, 2017Our “America First Energy Plan” Syllabus suggests that we cannot understand current climate and energy debates without thinking historically. Drawing on historian Paul Sabin’s 2010 call for historians to engage in climate change and energy debates, we suggest that discussions of the Trump Administration’s energy proposals would be enlivened by exploring how, in Sabin’s words, “our energy system embodies political power and social values as much as the latest engineering and science.”
Susan Cozzens / 13 February, 2017Susan Cozzens offers autobiographical insights into the feminist history of STS and explains how 4S got its first prize named after a woman: the Rachel Carson Prize. This blog entry is the first of a series on "Silenced Issues - Alternative Histories and Practices of STS".
Aleka Gurel / 06 February, 2017Dr. Sainath Suryanarayanan talks about his recent ESTS paper, "Intractosoma: Toward an Epistemology of Complexity Based on Intra-acting Bodies."
Scott Smith and Georgina Voss / 30 January, 2017On the road up to November 8th, technology companies sold visions of an advanced economy powered by technological step-changes—self-driving cars, smart infrastructure, and sustainable power. Those dreams may fade as the United States scrambles to satisfy a populism that cares far less for imagining shiny, high-tech futures and much more about reviving industrial pasts. At best, we see the technology sector entering an uncertain climate for breakthrough developments. At worst, its forthcoming innovations may be steered toward applications that more risk-averse—or less democratic.
Jonathan Coopersmith / 16 January, 2017In office Obama was fundamentally an optimist about the potential of science and technology to improve society and safely expand the economy. His most significant (and low profile) near-term initiatives elevated and institutionalized the foundations of scientific research – exploration, data-based experimentation and policy, openness, transparency, and access to information – into routine government activities. These steps should accelerate the commercialization and diffusion of research.
Aleka Gurel / 10 January, 2017Backchannels talks with Professor Susanna Trnka about her new research on young people's use of health apps.
Kristoffer Whitney / 20 December, 2016Scientists generally considered themselves exempt from concerns about over-hunting, despite the fact that “collecting” bird specimens, as it was and is euphemistically called, involved the same techniques, tools, and in many cases individuals as out-and-out sport or market hunting. The scientific response to vanishing bird populations was often both intensely conservation-minded and specimen-hungry. If a species of bird was going extinct, in fact, would you not do your best to protect it and procure as many specimens as possible for science and posterity? Live birds were valued in many ways, including as pest control for agriculture, but dead bird “skins” were valuable for answering a host of scientific questions related to taxonomy and population distribution.
Jimena Carrasca Madarriaga and Arthur Arruda Leal Ferreira / 19 December, 2016What are the convergences, irritations and dialogues between PSY disciplines (psychology, psychiatry) and STS? Jimena Carrasco and Arthur Arruda Leal describe how some of these encounters are thoroughly explored and developed across Latin American scholar networks
Madeleine Pape / 05 December, 2016My research has introduced and established ways that the participation and performance of women and men reflect and are affected by social and organizational features of the places in which they are educated and work. I have addressed these complex processes in a range of studies encompassing education and educational programs, patterns of collaboration, evaluative processes, salary rewards, publication productivity, social attributions for success, work-family conflict, and dimensions of academic careers. Now, my focus includes the study of the growth and characteristics of the published knowledge that exists in gender and science research over time. This journey is endlessly interesting!
Julia Alejandra Morales y Santiago Martinez Medina / 20 November, 2016¿Qué pueden los cuerpos muertos enseñarnos a los vivos? en esta entrada los autores reflexionan desde sus respectivos trabajos etnográficos sobre posibles lecciones desde la materialidad del anfiteatro y las clases de anatomia en Colombia.
Aleka Gurel / 14 November, 2016Backchannels interviews Klaus Hoeyer, Aaro Tupasela and Malene Bøgehus Rasmussen about their recent ST&HV paper, “Ethics Policies and Ethics Work in Cross-national Genetic Research and Data Sharing: Flows, Nonflows, and Overflows.”
Amanda Windle / 07 November, 2016Coverage in the press around how the EU Referendum will affect researchers has been heavily skewed towards the sciences, yet there is crucial EU funding available for all areas of research from tech through to the arts. The first impact will be that the research landscape becomes far more labyrinthian for UK researchers. It is already mind-numbingly complicated. But my way of dealing with the complexity has been to get involved, and to advise on priority areas such as the dual need for more research and skills training around audience development via digital means. Through Voices of Culture, I’ve been able to impact on policy and the funding agenda for culture. ... I can only join in with this work because the UK is a member of the EU. Leaving means funding potentially gets smaller, more complicated and we don’t get to input so widely into that agenda. How can UK research remain innovative if we’re not shaping that at the EU level?
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Linguists first used the term backchannel to refer to the spontaneous responses and signals that provide interactivity to what is only apparently a one-way communication. Social media users have adopted the term to refer to the unofficial, multi-directional online conversation that parallels formal academic exchange at a lecture or conference. The Backchannels blog is intended to have a similar relationship to scholarly discourse in STS. It provides an outlet for alternative-format scholarly communications, publishing shorter, timelier, media-rich communiques of interest to the global STS community. The editors welcome proposed contributions.