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Reports and commentary from meetings, workshops, and seminars of interest to the STS community, with images and other media.

Public Health in the Calais Refugee Camp: Environment, Health and Exclusion

Surindar Dhesi and Arshad Isakjee / 04 December, 2017

The ongoing emergency for refugees is having profound and hidden health consequences for thousands of displaced persons who live in informal ‘makeshift’ camps across Europe. This interdisciplinary research reports the results of the first environmental health assessment in such a location, in what was Europe’s largest informal refugee camp in 2016, in Calais, northern France. We detail the lack of facilities for sanitation, safe provision of food, water and shelter, demonstrating how conditions fall short of agreed international standards for formal refugee camps. Rather than the notion of migrants being the cause of health problems, this paper critically reveals the hidden materiality of bodily injury caused by poor health conditions, where the camp itself produces harm.

Building STS Programs: Notes From an Initial Meeting

Sam Weiss Evans / 06 November, 2017

There is a significant amount of largely invisible work that gets done within the STS community to keep it going and continuing building it. In an effort to make that work more visible, during the 4S 2017 Annual meeting in Boston, about 30 members of the STS community gathered for a lunchtime workshop about Building STS Programs.

Segundo Coloquio colombiano en estudios sociales de la ciencia: hacer la paz en un mundo posverdad

GESCTM Universidad Nacional de Colombia / 20 October, 2017

Con el fin de ampliar y situar los debates sobre el postconflicto en Colombia y las discusiones sobre posverdad, algunos de los grupos en Colombia con agendas CTS/STS organizaron el Segundo Coloquio Nacional de Estudios Sociales de las Ciencias y las Tecnologías entre el 21 y el 23 del pasado Septiembre en Bogotá. (English version available)

Describing and intervening: Exploring the plurality of STS in India

Joseph Satish V / 02 October, 2017

The Centre for Knowledge Culture and Innovation Studies (CKCIS), University of Hyderabad (UoH) organized a special lecture by Prof. Wiebe E. Bijker, Professor Emeritus of Technology and Society, University of Masstricht, The Netherlands and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway titled ‘Knowledge Swaraj and Responsible Research and Innovation – Renegotiating the social contract between Science, Technology and Society’ on September 14, 2017.

The Anthropocene in Chile: notes from an experimental thinkshop

Manuel Tironi / 28 August, 2017

Between 27th and 28th of April, fifteen scholars and practitioners gathered at the UC Marine Costal Research Station in Las Cruces for the two-day thinkshop El Antropoceno en Chile: desafíos actuales, futuros posibles (“The Anthropocene in Chile: current challenges, possible futures”). Organized by Cristián Simonetti and myself as an experimental exercise, the meeting was exceptionally stimulating –and challenging.

Provincializing STS: an EASTS Forum on how East Asia complicates the STS Landscape

Wen-Hua Kuo / 23 August, 2017

East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal (EASTS) is delighted to present a forum featuring the 2015 Bernal Prize winner John Law. An EASTS advisory editor, Law delivered his acceptance speech at the 4S annual meeting on the structure of an article entitled “Provincializing STS: Postcoloniality, Symmetry, and Method,” co-authored with EASTS editor Wen-yuan Lin. Using the ‘symmetry’ principle, Law and Lin challenged the normal “Western” framework by experimenting with “non-Western” concepts as analytical tools.

Doing ethnography of and with rocks

Alison Marlin / 10 August, 2017

Alison Marlin uses two ethnographic encounters with rocks – by Helen Verran and Sophia Roosth – to reflect on the stories these seemingly unlively objects may hold.

In the Moment: Notes from a Graduate Student Conference

Madeleine Pape / 25 July, 2017

The graduate student conference “Science, Technology, and the Politics of Knowledge in Global Affairs”, held in March, provided participants with the benefits that come from a small conference: just eighteen presenters, six faculty discussants, and keynote speaker Sheila Jasanoff. Madeleine Pape asked the three organizers – Savina Balasubramanian, Omri Tubi, and Kevin Baker – to share their insights in organizing such an event.

Book Launch, Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research by Noortje Marres

Evelyn Ruppert / 27 June, 2017

Noortje Marres began by noting that her final manuscript was submitted shortly after the Brexit vote and Trump election, which have sparked considerable debate on the role of social media, data analysis tools to detect fake news and new forms of blocking manipulative content. What is the relation of these two events to her book? She argued that these are piecemeal technical solutions that do not go to the heart of the problem. As much research has shown, communities amongst which fake news circulates are separate from the platforms and their mitigating technical services. What technical solutions do not address is that sharing is a logic underpinning digital platforms and from which their social value is derived. It is this value and logic that digital sociology attends to, of how knowledge generation is a social process rather than narrowly behaviorist or configured by individual platforms. Marres’ understanding of social logics is at the heart of her book and each panelist took this up in different ways.

Revealing fact and reinforcing faith: Gravitational waves and religion in India

Joseph Satish V / 30 March, 2017

The detection of gravitational waves is significant for it strengthens astronomers’ ability to observe some of the earliest cosmic processes - including events that followed the Big Bang. It was only expected therefore, that the age-old question of the tumultuous relationship between science and religion entered the picture yet again. An opportunity to reflect upon these questions was the International Symposium on "The Discovery of Gravitational Waves and the Future of Religion and Society" held in Pune, India from January 20-23, 2017. The event was jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Science and Religion (IISR), Delhi and the Centre for Science and Religion Studies of Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV), Pune.

Call for Nominations: 6S Representatives Deadline 4/30!

Posted by Madeleine Pape and Amanda Windle on behalf of 6S / 20 March, 2017

Elected representatives lead the student section of 4S (6S) and represent students on the 4S Council. They are elected in the spring/summer, for a term that lasts approximately 3 years. While they are not expected to attend the 4S meeting during the year in which they were elected, they are expected to attend the meeting (including the 4S Council meeting) during the two subsequent years of their term.
6S Representatives must demonstrate characteristics of leadership, management, and organizational skills, interest and enthusiasm in serving as 6S representative, and maintain good academic standing in their graduate program.

IV Encuentro CTS-Chile. Cartografías líquidas y territorios Sociotécnicos.

Gloria Baigorrotegui / 22 February, 2017

Between January 18 and 20, 2017 the STS Chilean community met at the Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia.

Segundo Congreso Argentino de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología

Diego Aguiar / 23 January, 2017

La organización del encuentro tuvo el desafío de situar 225 ponencias, ordenadas en 40 mesas temáticas con expositores, no sólo de Argentina, sino también de México, Brasil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia y España. Sus coordinadores destacaron la calidad de los numerosos trabajos y las provechosas discusiones que suscitaron.

Graduate Student Organization 6S Recaps Barcelona Adventures

Erika Szymanski and Margarita Rayzberg / 24 October, 2016

6S, the graduate student organization of 4S, recaps their many activities and programs held during the 4S/EEAST conference in Barcelona. With new initiatives--and a brand new Facebook page--6S organizers are pursuing ways to promote broad participation.

Michael Lynch / Part II: That Delicate Balance

Michael Lynch in conversation with Lucy Suchman / 29 September, 2016

Michael Lynch was awarded the 2016 Bernal Prize for his important contribution to science and technology studies. Here, in Part II of his conversation with 4S President Lucy Suchman, Lynch speaks about his early work and looks ahead to future projects.
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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.