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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

4S President’s message – November 2016


US Election afterward

Finishing up this message on the day after the results of the US election, I need to acknowledge at least briefly the profound dismay that many of us in the 4S community and beyond are experiencing. As an expatriate who was never a patriot, I am deeply aware of the privileges, culpabilities, and responsibilities of US citizenship. Thinking about those – and about the implications of this election for progressive people worldwide – through the sensibilities of STS points in familiar directions.  How can we form alliances committed to the difference between manipulative fabulation and stories about the world that are accountable to evidence (as well as their own place in its making)?  How can we contribute our efforts to social movements within and beyond the United States dedicated to the proposition that another world is possible, not through magical thinking but through careful analysis, creative re-imagining, and long-term institutional transformation? There will be more work than ever in the next four years for those of us tracking the transnational circuits of the technosciences, tracing their presence within the increasingly convoluted relations of governance that differentially effect our collective possibilities for livelihood and justice. 

4S 2017 ‘STS (In)Sensibilities’

You’ll all have received a first announcement for 4S 2017, which will be held in Boston (at the Boston Sheraton) from 30 August to 2 September of next year.  The theme of the conference is ‘STS (In)Sensibilities,’ an invitation and provocation that I hope will inspire many readings.  For example, if sensibility is the ability to grasp and to respond, how might we articulate the (in)sensibilities of contemporary technoscience? How, similarly, can we reflect on the extent and limits of our own sensibilities as STS scholars, teachers, and activists?  How is the world made differently sense-able through multiple discourses and practices of knowledge-making, and what evades the sensoria of technoscience and STS?  The aim is that the sense of ‘sense’ be read broadly, from mediating technologies of perception and apprehension to the discursive and material practices that render worlds familiar and strange, real and imagined, actual and possible, politically (in)sensitive and ethically sensible.  

Heather Paxson (MIT) has kindly agreed to serve as chair of the conference program committee, which now includes Daniel Breslau (Virginia Tech), Claudia Castañeda (Emerson College),Tarleton Gillespie (Cornell, Microsoft Research New England), Mary Gray (Microsoft Research New England), Banu Subramaniam (UMass Amherst), Nick Seaver (Tufts), and TL Taylor (MIT). 

The Making & Doing exhibition will also resume in Boston, organized by a committee headed up by Sara Wylie (Northeastern), with Sulfikar Amir (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Gary Downey (Virginia Tech), Catherine D'Ignazio (Emerson College), Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (Linköping University, Sweden), Max Liboiron (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada), Nadya Peek (MIT), and

Laura Watts (IT University Copenhagen, Denmark).  Dates for submission will be the same as those for closed sessions and individual papers; for more details see

The submission link for open panel proposals will go live on November 15th with a deadline of January 1st, 2017.  Submission of closed sessions, individual papers, and Making & Doing exhibits will run from January 15th to March 1st. See for details, and stay tuned for further news regarding plenaries and other events.

Call for Nominations for 2017 Bernal prize

The Bernal Prize committee for 2017 is headed by Kim Fortun, RPI (4S President-elect), working with committee members Tania Perez-Bustos, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (member of Council); Wen-Hua Kuo, National Yang-Ming UniversityTaiwan (former member of Council), Erika Szymanski, University of Otago, New Zealand (student representative), and  Mike Lynch, Cornell University, USA (2016 Bernal Prize winner).  We’re now seeking nominations from 4S members, so this is a chance to put forward the names of senior scholars who in your judgment have made a distinguished contribution to the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS).  Nominations can consist of a short (1 page) description of the candidate, noting the contributions that you believe qualify them for the award.

For more information including a list of past recipients, see the 4S webpage for the Bernal prize.  Nominations should be sent to Steve Zehr, Secretary of 4S. Deadline: December 31, 2016.

Call for self-nominations for 4S representatives to AAAS – November 13th.

As a condition of our continued affiliation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 4S is required to appoint a representative to each section committee of the AAAS in which 4S is enrolled.

The three-year (renewable) term for 4S representatives to the History & Philosophy of Science Committee and Societal Impacts of Science & Engineering Committee will end on February 20, 2017.  Steve Zehr has been our representative to both committees and is prepared to continue, but we would also welcome nominations for new representatives, for a term that runs through February 17, 2020.  In order to take on this role, you need either to be a current AAAS member, or willing to join AAAS.  With apologies we’re working to a very tight timeline, as we need to return the name of our representative to the AAAS by November 15, 2016.

Please send self-nominations in the form of a brief email expressing your interest and qualifications to 4S Secretary Steve Zehr at

all best,