Open Panel Topics 34-66
34. Building Bridges for Innovation: Improving Public-private Relationships
35. Making Sense of Climate Policy
Organized by: Darrin Durant, University of Melbourne
The phrase "the science and politics of global warming" correctly hints at the way science and politics are mixed together, but do such ‘mixology epistemologies’ prevent us from arguing that in some cases climate policy was more sensitive to politics than to science? If science and politics are inseparably blurred, does that mean we cannot investigate (at a National level?) some kind of spectrum of sensitivity and insensitivity? This panel invites reflections on a spectrum of sensitivity and insensitivity, using (as the empirical illustrations) national stories about climate change policymaking and/or efforts to establish science-policy interfaces (at various levels of governance and activism). Put provocatively, are we limited to being critics of linear-models of science-policy interfaces; limited to reminding people the boundaries are more blurry than they think? To what extent can or should we, as social critics, be sensitive to the ways climate change policy might be more sensitive (or insensitive) to knowledge or to politics? The question of sensitive and insensitive appears central, for instance, to some grand narrative debates in the climate research field: has global policy about climate change failed because of the hubris and linear-model approach of scientists (see Howe’s ‘Behind the Curve’ (2014)), or because of the savvy manufacturing of doubt by industrial-political interests (see Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ (2014))? In what way might national-level climate policy be more sensitive to science or to politics in nationally variable ways? Can some kind of 'politics of the sensitive' thus reveal what nationally-relevant insensitivities are built into climate regimes?
36. Making Sense of Political Calculations
Organized by: William Deringer, MIT
As recent electoral events have shown, intensive calculations—from data-driven, “micro-targeted” campaigning strategies to the probabilistic electoral forecast models crafted by FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times—have gained considerable authority over how political actors and the public make sense of political processes. These new forms of political calculation present an opportunity, and challenge, for STS scholarship. The politics of quantification has long been a key problematic for STS scholars, who have focused largely on the use of quantitative practices as technologies for exercising state control and as technologies for generating political trust. Are these prevailing schema of control and trust—or objectification and objectivity—sufficient for explaining the potent (politically, culturally, emotionally) forms of calculative practice and engagement evident in contemporary political life? This panel invites papers that explore new ways of understanding the place and power of calculation in political processes, in any historical or contemporary context. Taking this year’s conference theme, In(Sensibilities), as a cue, it particularly invites contributors to reflect on the use of quantitative tools as instruments of sensing, sense-making, and sensation in politics. Topics might include: the quantification of political sentiment; “statactivism”; quantitative methods in political science/theory; performances of calculation in popular media; feedback, reactivity, and performativity; affective engagements with political numbers.
Organized by: Mara Dicenta-Vilker, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Achille Mbembe (2003) used the term ‘necropolitics’ to account for the existence of ‘death worlds’ within postcolonial geopolitical spaces. While work in biopolitics has privileged the dynamics of ‘making live and letting die,’ Mbembe highlights the importance of both, extending lives and making deaths. Rosi Braidotti (2013) follows Mbembe and includes posthuman subjects within the politics of death. Contemporary Anthropocene — as a limit of total extinction provoking an intense scholarship around the boundaries of life and worthy lives — is not exempt from problems associated with Western notions of individualism and humanism (Haraway 2016). In certain ways, Braidotti’s approach, along with other vitalist materialisms such as the work of Bennett (2010) or Barad (2007), allow for the generativity of Life to be seen as a material ongoing force that usurps such Western tendencies. While they transcend the idea of death as an exceptionally human experience that conditions political existence, at the same time they tend to reduce processes of death into Life, or ongoing generativity. How can STS research and mobilize the production of boundaries between life and death, between Life as organic and that which is Non-Life (Povinelli 2016)? How can we account for processes of differential dying in more-than-Western, more-than-human, more-than-bios, or even, more-than-earth worlds? This panel looks for contributions around the material semiotics of death, dead subjects, and killing/elimination that engage with the processes by which they are maintained, resignified, or disrupted. Welcoming fabulation, empirical, theoretical, or speculative communications.
38. Side-effects of (In)Sensible Participatory Technology Developments
Organized by: Diego Compagna, Technische Universität Berlin
A peculiar case of insensibility in technosciences is raised by the increasing interest in participatory technology development (PTD). PTD enfolds a dynamic that could be described as a double-bind situation for science and technology studies (STS) itself: STS insights often expose one-sided processes of technology development, insensible to social issues, creating a clear rationale for PTD designs. However, an often unintended as well as (due to STS’s insensibility) ignored outcome of PTD consists in the construction of a dualistic approach reintroducing a distinction between humans (routed in nature) and technology (routed in culture). The unintended problem reverses the calls to overcome historically-contingent, socially constructed distinctions, and the distinctions they engender (e.g. sex, gender, race, bodily fitness, etc.) and to promote the freedom to choose who- and whatever a conscious entity (cyborg) would like to be (embodied or not). In the proposed session, I would like to gather scholars who have carried out research in the field of PTD with the intention of detecting the undesirable, mostly non-intended side effects of user integration and their relation to societal structures promoting hierarchical oppositions and social inequality.
39. STS and Law in the Public Health Hazards of Industrial East Asia
Organized by: Hsin-Hsing Chen, Shih-Hsin University
Science and law are two institutionalized epistemic authorities which are expected to operate independent of all other authorities and produce knowledge solely on the merit of evidence and rules. In the drive toward modernity in East Asia since the late 19th century, these two social spheres are often inhabited by two rather distinct groups and interact minimally with one another in their work. This science-law disparity is a conspicuous feature of industrial East Asia. The court of law, for example, often prefers that scientific experts provide presumably impartial written opinion, rather than testifying in court and undergoing cross-examination, as in jurisdictions where partisan expert testimony has long been taken as part of the legal procedure. The situation changes significantly when a judicial system is challenged to adjudicate science-intensive public controversies based on conflicting scientific arguments. One example is the so-called “toxic tort” litigation—victims suing corporations in occupational disease, pollution, food safety, and other issues of toxic exposures. Under rapid industrialization, East Asian countries are rife with such controversies, starting with Japan’s Minamata-disease controversy since the 1950s to Taiwan’s RCA campaign and South Korea’s Samsung Leukemia campaign in the recent decade. STS scholarship can be very useful in such public controversies to bridge the science-law divide as “translation” in its multiple connotations is an essential craft of the trade. This panel seeks to explore the experience of social engagements of STS scholarship in such cases in the specific conjuncture of contemporary industrial East Asia.
40. Visual (In)Sensibilities
Organized by: Dorothea Born, University of Vienna, HafenCity University Hamburg; Regula Valérie Burri
Images are everywhere. They surround us, shape societal beliefs and value systems, and influence how we make sense of the world. Yet, images are not innocent representations of reality but created within societal practices and imbued with cultural values. Within contemporary visual cultures, visualizations are intrinsically linked to technological artifacts, such as cameras, x-rays, ultrasounds or MRIs. The development of digital image production and manipulation impinges in new ways on questions of the reproducibility and authenticity of images. At the same time, visualizations themselves can be regarded as technologies of perception that make the world sense-able. They play a fundamental role in the production of scientific knowledge (Latour & Woolgar) but also in the communication and dissemination of knowledge. While an important topic for STS in earlier years, recent STS engagements with images have been rather scarce. In this panel we want to re-open discussions of STS’ (in)sensibility towards the visual, promoting the social studies of scientific images and visualizations (SIV) (Burri & Dumit). We encourage contributions that investigate how visualizations make the world sense-able, focusing on the practices of imaging and imagining. Contributions may look at how (scientific) images are produced (as two- and three-dimensional artifacts, as static and moving objects, etc.), what kind of role they play within knowledge production, as well as at what happens when images travel beyond their contexts of production and engagement. We also encourage studies looking at the role of images in science popularization and communication.
41. STS after Truth: Narrative, Translation, and Advocacy
Organized by: Davide Orsini, Mississippi State University; Anna Maria Weichselbraun, Stanford University
Constructivist approaches to the historical and social study of science and technology aim at "debunking" universalizing narratives about the existence of truth and objectivity. This scholarship has attempted to make plain that claims to truth are always also claims to power, and that these power relations are worth exposing in order to make possible a more just world. STS and related disciplines are thus centrally concerned with representing the diversity and complexity of knowledge making in the world, and challenging narratives that naturalize technoscience by decoupling it from the social orders in which it is embedded. This panel gathers perspectives on the role of STS scholarship in the present political and social world in which, especially in advanced democracies, the status of truth is deteriorating. Inspired by scholarship that has attempted to theorize the production of ignorance and uncertainty (Proctor & Schiebinger 2008), this panel probes the topic further by asking the following questions: How can STS contribute to recentralize the value of scientific truth in responsible decision-making choices, while retaining its critical outlook on contemporary and past knowledge/power relations? What is the relevance of the STS project in the face of political elites that are contemptuous of established scientific consensus and the fact-based investigation of discernible reality? We welcome multidisciplinary reflections on the use of new narratives, and on the public responsibility of STS scholars in translating expert/local knowledge, especially when working with populations most affected by climate change and elite-driven technopolitical processes.
42. What is ‘(Un)making’ STS Ethnographies? Reflections (Not Exclusively) from Latin America
Organized by: Fredy Mora-Gámez, University of Leicester / Universidad de los Andes / Universidad Nacional de Colombia; Santiago Martínez-Medina; Tania Pérez-Bustos
STS scholars have found in ethnography a means to produce situated knowledge about their own research problems. Likewise, STS has offered a set of discussions that has permeated ethnographic practice. Hence, STS-oriented ethnography consists of an interface or contact surface that continuously unmakes and remakes interpretations, ways of seeing, as well as objects, categories and descriptions. Still, ethnography is not exempt from this transformative process; ethnography is also reconfigured as a knowledge object. The latter aspect is of particular interest for this panel. Drawing on our own research in Latin America we believe that ethnography, while being unmade and remade, might deserve additional adjectives. Thus, we have speculated about the possibility of rethinking STS ethnographies as experimental (destabilizing the meaning of knowing), mestizas (hybridizing different objects), decomposing (accounting for creative processes in unconventional places), stacked (permitting the coexistence of different ontologies and arrangements in a single space), more-than-human (destabilizing the human/non-human distinction), and (in)sensible (questioning what seeing, feeling or experiencing through modern technoscience is about). We seek contributions from Latin América as well as from other similar localities around the world, that reflect about other possible adjectives, and ways of (un)making STS ethnographies. Far from establishing a taxonomy, we want to delve in reflections exploring (1) how STS ethnographies reconfigure other objects and/or (2) how STS ethnography is unmade and remade through its own use.
43. “Would you recommend this shoulder surgery to your friends and family?” The Effect of Online Feedback and Ratings on Health Care Service Provision and Perception.
Organized by: Farzana Dudhwala, University of Oxford
Increasingly, people are going online to comment or give feedback on their experience of care, and health care service providers are encouraging patients to do so. Patients, carers, and service users can share their personal experiences in a range of ways. There are specialist websites which ask for feedback on doctors or hospitals, such as Patient Opinion or iWantGreatCare; some service providers make their own surveys using SurveyMonkey; some patients choose to share their stories through personal blogs or on discussion forums; and others still turn to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In what ways might this shape the way health care services are valued and rated? We invite papers that explore the nuances of eliciting, gathering, moderating, recording, and making sense of online patient feedback. Who and what is involved? Who is included and who is excluded from this increasingly popular method of obtaining scores of satisfaction and narratives of experience? Are some online means more credible than others, and why? What is the potential for resistance, rejection, manipulation or misappropriation? What is the effect on the agency of the patient and the care provider? Through what methods can these processes be traced? We expect that the papers will contribute to either theoretical or methodological developments relating to online patient feedback and ratings, exploring how these new ways of sharing experiences of healthcare might affect how service providers are rated and valued, and how this might affect the way that care is given.
44. Making Sense of Autonomous Technologies, 40 Years Later
Organized by: Colin Garvey, RPI; Langdon Winner
The 40th anniversary of the publication of Langdon Winner’s seminal work, Autonomous Technologies: Technics-out-of-Control (1977), provides an opportunity to reflect both on an increasingly automated Anthropocene as well as the field of STS itself at the opening of the 21st century. In 1977, when electronic digital computers still occupied entire rooms within the citadels of the military-industrial-university complex, AI and robotics were still largely arcane avocations of a few research teams and entrepreneurs. Today, smartphones with millions of times the power of those machines reside in the pockets of billions of people around the world; robotic beasts crawl over rubble to win prizes from DARPA; and consumer automobiles are (finally) beginning to drive themselves. Forbes magazine has already named 2017 “The Year of AI,” and China is poised to outpace the US and Japan combined in total numbers of industrial robots. R&D funding for autonomous technologies is at an all-time high, as are both optimism and fear about the futures they promise. Meanwhile, some of the world’s leading democracies struggle to function under conditions of electronically mediated information overload. How are we making sense of these technological transformations forty years after Autonomous Technologies? And how should we be? What still applies? What has changed? What have we learned since, and what remains insensible to us? This panel welcomes contributions on autonomous technologies, broadly construed to include historical and contemporary reflections as well as speculative and future-oriented pieces.
45. Academic Careers: Gaining Independence in Different National Contexts
Organized by: Grit Laudel, Technical University Berlin; Ed Hackett, Brandeis University
A crucial step in academic careers is the transition to a position in which one can conduct independent research. Standards for hiring into tenure-track jobs, tenure, and promotion are each based on demonstrated ability to work independently and to support a research program. From the perspective of science policy, early-career researchers are seen as sources of the original ideas and boundless energy necessary for transformative science and innovation. Yet current research careers in many countries are characterized by longer phases of intellectual gestation: research conducted under direction of others (e.g. as a postdoc) and delayed moves to independence. Positions that formally grant the right to conduct research independently grow increasingly scarce. In some countries, science policy responds by creating formally independent positions or by limiting the time researchers can spend in dependent positions, with varying success. How do young researchers cope with extended dependence and strive to achieve and maintain some form of independence under changing conditions in different career systems? How do national contexts differ in supporting the transition process towards independence, e.g. in terms of career positions offered, project funding opportunities or evaluation processes? In which career phases does it happen and which consequences has it for the content and conduct of research? What are the implications of extended intellectual gestation for recruitment of talent and for increased diversity in STEM fields?
46. Transhumanism: Critical STS Engagements
Organized by: Grant Shoffstall, Williams College
Transhuman is shorthand for transitional human being. So-called Transhumanism, commonly denoted by “H+” or “>H,” is a cultural, intellectual, and, some have argued, religious movement, which advocates radical human enhancement by way of the anticipated convergence of “GNR” technologies— “G” for genetic engineering and biotechnology, “N” for nanotechnology, “R” for robotics and artificial intelligence (Dinerstein 2006). At what is arguably the movement’s outermost limit, many transhumanists anticipate the eventual transcendence of human biological constitution all together; and the arrival of a postbiological or “posthuman” condition, Humanity 2.0. This panel aims to bring together STS scholars engaged in critical research on any and all dimensions of the transhumanist movement. Topics for exploration might include, but are hardly limited to, transhumanism’s ties to eugenics, the movement’s advocacy of anti-aging and life extension medicine, transhumanist themes in science fiction film and literature, and transhumanism’s discursive ties to the so-called “Singularity.” Ideally, such explorations would delineate the sociohistorical conditions under which transhumanist ideas have emerged and circulated, attend to the material practices through which transhumanist ideas are threaded, and identify the movement’s key progenitors and advocates.
47. Institutional Theory and Large Technical Systems
Organized by: Hans Klein, Georgia Tech School of Public Policy
In studies of large technical systems, models of social constructionism have emphasized agency over structure. Agency-related concepts like actor networks, interpretive flexibility, and system builders have remained influential for years. There have been calls for greater emphasis on structural approaches. Klein and Kleinman’s “The social construction of technology: Structural considerations” (2002, Science, Technology & Human Values) reviewed structural theories in sociology and argued for their relevance to STS research. Despite being widely cited, the article’s impact on STS research has been limited, with few of the citations in the flagship journal Science Technology & Human Values. The literature on large technical systems has explored structural and institutional concepts. Perhaps most notable here is the edited volume, The Governance of Large Technical Systems (Coutard, 2002) which brings an institutional perspective. However, this work, like other such edited volumes, has emphasized richly descriptive case studies over theoretical considerations. This open panel calls for research on structural studies of large technical systems that emphasize institutional theory. We invite papers that draw on such works as the institutional theory of Elinor Ostrom, regime theory from international affairs, and policy models of federalist and constitutional structures. The goal is to promote discussion among scholars sharing a common interest in the role of institutions in large technical systems but drawing on a variety of theoretical models.
48. Citizen/Netizen Empowerment and the Korean Candlelight Revolution: Roots and Significance
Organized by: Jay Hauben, Columbia University (retired); Ronda Hauben
By Oct 2016 a significant candlelight movement/revolution was developing among citizens and netizens of South Korea. While the immediate trigger for the candlelight events of 2016-17 was the corruption being uncovered of Park Geun Hye's government and non-government accomplices, the more significant background may be the experiences of citizens and netizens using the Internet to explore ways in which their participation can solve difficult problems and expose elaborate schemes of deception. Korean examples include the exposure of scientific fabrications in the stem cell work of Hwang Woo Suk in 2005 , the citizen forensics and other analyses by netizens relating to Korean government misrepresentation of the evidence in the sinking of the Cheonan warship in 2010, the action by Zaro and the Netizen Investigation Team into Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) interference in the presidential election in 2012, and the same team's critique of the ROK government investigation of the Sewol Ferry tragedy in 2014. Papers for this open panel could explore these or similar events where citizen- and netizen-scientists played important roles in uncovering and documenting fraud or politicized scientific investigations in South Korea or elsewhere. Appropriate also would be papers analyzing events in the candlelight movement/revolution in South Korea toward more democracy and especially how the netizen and citizen activist tradition in South Korea has helped to encourage and shape these recent developments.
49. Precision Medicine, Race/ethnicity, and Public Health in Comparative Perspectives
Organized by: Shirley Sun, Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Human molecular genetics have generated a focus on precision medicine (also known as personalized medicine or stratified medicine), with the promise to use the analysis of an individual’s unique genetic makeup to enable more precise diagnosis and treatment of diseases and illnesses around the globe. At the same time, however, there is a rich body of work demonstrating the simultaneous racialization of biomedicine and the molecularization of race (Duster 2006, Fullwiley 2007, Fujimura and Rajagopalan 2011). Studies in Asia have identified is ethnicization of biomedicine and the molecularization of ethnicity (Sun 2017, Tsai 2012). This panel calls for papers examining the intersection between the pursuit of precision medicine and the degree to which racially- and ethnically-based population studies of human genome variance shapes the delivery of public health. The following are possible questions for papers in this panel: How do scientists define populations in population-based genetic and genomic studies in the pursuit of personalized medicine? What is the interaction between population-based genetic/genomic studies and public health in different political contexts? Whether and how do population-based genetic/genomic studies shape genetic screening policies? What should the government pay for (drugs, companion-tests, kinds of diseases/illness) and why should they pay for it? How should the cost be distributed among different stakeholders (the government, insurance companies, employers, patients, etc)? Should precision medicine serve as a national/public healthcare strategy; why or why not? Who actually benefits from the precision medicine initiative?
50. Can the Subaltern Research?
Organized by: Ivan da Costa Marques, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro; Anita Say Chan University of Illinois; David Nemer, University of Kentucky; Lars Bo Andersen, Aarhus University
This panel questions research on ‘the subaltern’ by focusing on processes whereby established theory can reinscribe acts of domination and erasure of options, in a variation on Spivak’s query, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (1988) We point out three possible entry points: 1) The subaltern researcher. Xavier Polanco (1985) used the expression “domestic brain drain” to identify “a cognitive position assumed by Third World and Latin American scientists, who without emigrating from their countries guide their scientific work in terms of research fronts, reward systems and publication of developed countries.” The ambivalences between simultaneously copying and rejecting the models of European civilization often lead subaltern colonized-colonizers who are approaching modernity to a hindrance. 2) Dialogue with the subaltern. A second entry point comes at the intersection of two seemingly accepted claims within the STS community: “science is capable of dialogue only on its own terms,” and “a respectful enough story is all one needs to go to trial with.” The first will require that subaltern claims to knowledge be expressed and subjected to evaluation following scientific practices. On the second, “respectful enough” means producing a set of inscriptions which, by means of their juxtaposition, stabilize the story as an entity, that is, as something formed by a detachment from of the flux of (an ever moving) reality. 3) Conflicts and limits of authority. A third entry point would be any situation where there is a conflict between the authority of scientific knowledge or fact and the authority of a local popular non-expert knowledge that scientists classify as “mere belief.” On the one hand, the (colonizer) scientist, engineer or project manager is clearly privileged in determining the scientific or technological reality of what is at stake. On the other hand, subalterns may resist and evade the definition of their reality by others in numerous and sometimes quite effective ways. The panel thus welcomes any research that investigates the stakes and dynamics in such encounters between expert and subaltern knowledges and realities.
51. Science from the Eyes of Local Cultures and Communities
Organized by: Inez Ponce de Leon, Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines
Science communication professionals have called for science-related messages to be more attuned to local cultures and specific communities. For such a goal to be met, however, research must first examine how people understand scientific concepts at local levels. How do specific cultures make meaning of science? How do communities weigh science concepts against their other priorities when making decisions on food consumption, health, and even evacuation? What role does one's education in basic science concepts play when issues such as climate change, vaccination, or fitness come to the fore? This panel seeks to explore these local understandings, and to examine them as valid voices that merit attention rather than judgement. This panel especially welcomes papers from developing countries, where local communities have their own worldviews that need a voice.
52. STS and the Design of Dying, Death and the Afterlife
Organized by: Dara Ivanova, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Bernike Pasveer, Maastricht University; Iris Wallenburg , Erasmus University Rotterdam; Maria Olejaz, University of Copenhagen; Roland Bal, Erasmus University Rotterdam
It has been argued that many of us live in a culture where the dead and dying are increasingly sequestered from the living and enveloped in (bio)medical discourse and practices. Yet, social media, novels and films have made death present in new ways through their digital afterlife, imaging, and legacies. This panel explores STS-related work on these shifting and complex configurations of presencing and absencing dying, death and the afterlife through an empirical and analytical attention to the various historical and cultural spaces that are envisioned, designed and built for the dying and the dead, what these spaces (in)sensitize to, and how they are governed and done. Furthermore, we focus on affective methodological reflections about the study of dying and death as a process of care. We invite a broad scope of contributions, including (but not limited to) the following themes: 1. Designing death-scapes: the design of (urban) spaces to accommodate the dying, the dead and their afterlives, as well as the materialities of organizing dying, death, and life beyond death. What new narratives are formed and stem from places of death as arenas for doing, imagining and re-making dying and death? 2. Unpacking the normal and variations of ‘the good’: what goes into 'good' ways to die and norms of dealing with the dead and their afterlives? 3. Intersections/transitional spaces and boundary work: when does 'dying' start, when do lives end, and how are boundaries drawn and done?
53. Social Studies of Politics: What Do We Care For?
Organized by: Jan-Hendrik Passoth, MCTS, TUM; Nicholas J. Rowland, PSU
In STS, governance is conceptualized as a special kind of infrastructure crafted by science and poured into technology. What else are we to make of Max Weber’s foundational claim about the legitimate use of state violence without the bureaucratic regimes crafted in economics and jurisprudence? What is a population without a census and statistics, without techniques of defining, measuring, and counting people? Over the last decade a growing body of research in what we might call the Social Studies of Politics has unpacked the technoscientific assemblages of governing. But there is still so much more. Voting machines and census construction, official statistics and diplomatic training handbooks, data politics and state modeling -- a few of the banner cases for this STS approach to politics and governance -- are NOT just the cold, rational nuts and bolts of modern politics. They are loved and hated; cared for and rallied against; encountered and rendered familiar or hostile by citizens, diplomats, policy makers, bureaucrats and, of course, even us as scholars. These affective, aesthetic, and sensible dimension of our technoscientific assemblages of governance seem to become increasingly important to understand in today’s world of post-truth politics and its growing reliance on appeals to emotion and affect. For this year´s sessions on the Social Studies of Politics we invite contributions that explore the multiple ways in which we sense and make sense-able our contemporary machineries of governance: How do we care for files, how do we make borders visible, how to we love the technoscientific details of modern statehood?
54. Technologies as Rubble? Destabilizing Narratives of Progress
Organized by: Javiera Barandiaran, UC Santa Barbara; Tristan Partridge
Many imagined that globalization would advance uninterrupted, thanks to new technologies, and would bring capitalist development to billions worldwide. To disrupt such technological determinism and reassess ongoing dynamics of global production/destruction, we propose to examine disused, abandoned, broken or obsolete technologies as “rubble” — as affective objects that continue to influence society and politics after their allure or usefulness has waned. Analytically, this means examining how such objects persist in affecting people differentially across social, geographical and cultural positions (cf. forthcoming issue of the Journal of Political Ecology). We borrow the concept from Gaston Gordillo. In Rubble (2014), Gordillo views the destruction caused by economic globalization not as ahistorical ‘debris’ nor ruins celebrated as evidence of progress, but as rubble embedded in cycles of production/destruction revealing how past injustices are lived in the present. For this open panel, we invite contributions that explore technologies as “rubble.” Among other questions, participants might ask how such an approach modifies narratives of “failed” or “delayed” development or imaginaries of renewal, invention, and global competitiveness; how to recognize technological rubble, or apply the term to technologies in use; how technologies succumb to political and social change, not just technological advance, yet can continue to have political power in their “afterlife”; how inequalities and injustices become justified within narratives of technical rationality and sophistication; or how seeing technologies as rubble highlights their means of enduring in a given context, a quality sometimes overlooked in analyses of technological circulation across time and place.
55. STS (In)sensibilities and Health Professions Education
Organized by: Julia Knopes, Case Western Reserve University; Kelly Underman, University of Illinois at Chicago; Alexandra Vinson, Northwestern University
This panel will explore contemporary health professions education through the lens of STS: spanning the training of physicians, midwives, nurses, physician assistants, emergency medical technicians, and other biomedical clinical practitioners. Papers will ask: how does health professions education prepare future practitioners to “sense” the patient body, and to respond appropriately to medical problems? How do trainees come to grasp their social roles as caregivers, and how do they acclimate to the use of medical technologies? Papers may also consider challenges faced by both students and mentors in health professions education: including how current training paradigms may inadvertently foster insensibilities towards patients and fellow medical practitioners. This panel will bring renewed attention to education and training within the health professions in order to understand how training presents, requires, or conveys ways of knowing that shape the development of medical professionals' subjectivities and practices.
56. Science, Technology, and Sport
Organized by: Jennifer Sterling, Georgia Institute of Technology; Mary G. McDonald
While sport studies scholars have established sport as a key site of cultural meanings and social relations, fewer scholars have engaged these issues within technology and science studies frameworks. This panel invites papers broadly concerned with social and cultural inquiry into the intersection of science, technology, and sport. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: sport technologies and technologies of the active body; issues related to medicine, risk and sport; performance enhancement and bioethics; (dis)ability, gender, race, class, and sexuality, technology and sport; sporting labs and scientific practices; representations of science and sport; sport analytics, data visualization, and the quantified self; professional gaming and eSports; and, infrastructure, sustainability, and sport.
57. Sensitizing STS Analyses of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Organized by: Jennifer Singh, Georgia Tech; Chloe Silverman, Drexel University; Martine Lappé, Columbia University
Over the past twenty years, public awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has grown alongside increasing rates of diagnosis. Work by social scientists has demonstrated how various social and professional groups employ different epistemologies and ontologies of ASD when they explain the causes, treatments, identities, and social consequences of this condition. Epistemologies of ASD are located in practices of knowledge making from genetics and neuroscience to diagnostic tools and treatments. Our understanding of autism also comprises alternative ways of knowing that have often been excluded from dominant accounts of autism, including the concept of neurodiversity and other sensibilities that comprise local forms of knowledge. This open panel aims to bring together STS scholars investigating different epistemologies or ontologies of ASD, to identify and articulate how STS has grasped and responded to this growing social phenomenon, and to address the limits of our analyses thus far. We seek papers exploring the tensions between dominant frameworks of ASD and sensibilities that are less known, imagined, or considered in current STS accounts. These sensibilities could include but are not limited to: implicated actors in autism whose voices are often left out or only discursively present across situations; gendered dimensions of autism diagnosis, treatment, or care; global and/or cross-cultural perspectives; relationships between human and nonhuman animals in autism science; and others. The panel will explore the sensibilities at play in perceptions and experiences of autism and aim to inspire new directions in STS research on autism and related categories of disability and difference.
58. Science and Technology Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Organized by: Jenny-Ann Danell, Umea University, Sweden
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has not only become increasingly popular and frequently used by the general population in western societies; it is also a field undergoing various forms of professionalization and integration in conventional health care. CAM is also developing as a scientific (sub) field, in terms of peer-reviewed articles, clinical trials, and establishment of CAM journals, research centers and other scientific forums. However, none of these processes are straightforward or without conflicts. The medical and scientific legitimacy of CAM is often controversial and contested. This panel is devoted to STS perspectives on CAM, for example, concerning knowledge production, organization, professionalization, standardization, globalization, and material practices. The panel is open to qualitative, quantitative, as well as theoretical papers.
59. Sensing the Liveliness of Things and the Fragility of Life: Bringing Care and Maintenance Together
Organized by: Jérôme Denis, Mines ParisTech; Fernando Domínguez Rubio, UC San Diego; David Pontille, Mines ParisTech
In 1969, Mierle Laderman Ukeles wrote the “Manifesto for Maintenance Art” where she associated mundane practices of maintenance (both at home and at work) with the broader area of care. Although both activities, she explained, are vital in the daily production, continuation, preservation of life, maintenance and care have been typically characterized as unworthy and merely reproductive activities carried out by women and low-paid workers. Recently, several STS scholars have demonstrated that investigating care (Mol, Murphy, Pols, Puig de la Bellacasa) and maintenance and repair (Cállen and Criado, Denis and Pontille, Dominguez Rubio, Jackson, Rosner, Ureta) could help decenter traditional issues in STS, such as agency, knowledge production, or the innovation and performativity of sociomaterial orders, as well as open up new ways to discuss politics and ethics. Though some of these works have explicitly discussed the relationships between care and maintenance, the encounters are still timid, and the discussion exploratory. We would like to use this open panel as a meeting point for those two conversations, and a way of teasing out the larger ethical, political and methodological consequences that the bringing together of the reflections on care, repair and maintenance could have for the renewal of STS sensibilities. To do so, we invite contributions across different domains such as arts, architecture, urban studies, media studies, organization studies, and of course STS.
60. Bestial Technoscience: Nonhuman Animals as Technology and in Scientific Practice
Organized by: Jia Hui Lee, MIT; Diana Pardo Pedraza, UC Davis; Luísa Reis Castro, MIT
Nonhuman animals have long played tremendously important roles in science and technology. Their bodies, companionship, and remarkable sensory perception have figured — as inspiration and instrumentation — in the works of scientists, engineers, doctors, politicians, trainers, and artists (Scranton and Schrepfer 2004). From Karen Rader’s history of genetically standardized mice (2004) to the menagerie of bugs populating Hugh Raffles’ Insectopedia (2010), nonhuman animals have been, and are, fodder for (human) thought, action, and experiment. This panel continues the conversation about other animals as significant characters, or “companion species” (Haraway), in the shaping of science and technology. Rather than assume that these other animals are exploited for experimental and instrumental ends, we invite papers that interrogate the knowledge systems, social processes, and institutional relations that generate particular relations of becoming with (Haraway 2008), detachment (Candea, Cook, Trundle and Yarrow 2015), or exploitation (Pachirat 2011) among humans and other animals, through which humans and their companion animals are crucial actors in scientific practice and become new forms of technologies. We welcome papers that address the political, theoretical, methodological, or material implications of attending to nonhuman animals’ enlistment and involvement in human projects of surveillance, war, peace-making, global health, and environmental stewardship. We invite submissions that draw on a variety of disciplines and methodologies, including science and technology studies, multispecies anthropology, feminist and queer studies, and animal geography. This panel welcomes scholars who are creatively engaging with the themes and concerns listed here and encourages research on humans and other animals in non-Western, global South, and/or postcolonial contexts.
61. Interrogating Food Science and Technology: Green Revolutions, Grey Zones, and Black Boxes
Organized by: Jacob Lahne, Drexel University; Christy Spackman, Harvey Mudd College
It seems fashionable in a range of circles—nutrition, social justice and sustainability advocacy, slow food—to critique food and agricultural sciences. However, outside of agricultural historians, STS scholars have largely left food and agricultural scientists, their labs, and their technologies, unexamined. Perhaps this is due to these disciplines’ service nature—their dedication to solving problems for the agricultural industry. This may be a missed opportunity: Apostolas Geronas (2014) suggests that the most radical shifts in twentieth-century scientific knowledge making occurred in “grey zones” where the academy interfaces and compromises with industry and government. Few spaces of scientific knowledge production are as tightly imbricated with industrial agendas and government priorities as food and agricultural sciences. Since the early days of the Green Revolution, scientists and engineers have become primary knowledge-makers in producing food that is good to eat as well as determining what food is good to think (Lévi-Strauss 1962). We invite papers that explore the grey zones where industry, food and agricultural sciences, and governance meet. How has the development of a science of food in these zones shaped the partnerships at the heart of the green revolution, and our food (and other) landscapes? How has the growth of a cadre of food and agricultural experts “black boxed” (Latour 1999) what makes food good, as well as what is – and is not – food? How have instrumentation, measurement, and technology shaped understandings of nutrition and food quality? What worlds are produced, and which are erased, by the scientization of food?
62. Sounding Worlds: Listening as Transformative STS
Organized by: Julie Laplante, Université d'Ottawa; David Jaclin
This panel explores what emerges in terms of sonic qualities between life forms, whether human or nonhuman, elemental or ethereal. Taking life forms as open-ended and passing through each other, and somewhat following Helmreich's invitation to "sound" water and life (2016) and Ingold's idea that we are 'ensounded' (2011), we aim to explore how sounding might be possible and useful in making sense of worlds we make up both within and beyond science. Experiencing movement along water, air, carbon or oil shifts attention towards the ways, speeds, textures and intensities in which transformation occurs in passing or in a process of becoming something else. How might we attune our attention to hear the imperceptible or formless? Could we hear what a plant sounds like? How might it sound differently in the wind, in a pot and as it enters the laboratory? How might listening with plants be healing or transformative beyond their consumption? Nuancing ideas to reify hearing as a separate sense or as disciplined listening to identify sound 'itself' or soundscapes and rather broadening the focus on forms and patterns in the acoustic milieu as relational, we invite papers attuned to (en)sounding as method and approach. Approaches that explore ways we hear in-between, mapping meaningful events, moments, affects 'sonorous archipelago' (Bonnet 2012) or 'sound blocks' (Deleuze & Guattari 1980) are of particular interest. This can include research done through recording, playing an instrument or through any other means of attuning to acoustics as ways of both understanding and constituting lifeworlds.
63. The (In)dependence of Research(ers): Good? Bad? Necessary?
Organized by: Jochen Glaser, TU Berlin; Ed Hackett, Brandeis University
The independence of science has been – and still is – a contentious and multifaceted theme in science studies. Originally defended against the idea of central planning (Polanyi 1962) and cast as functionally necessary, its value today appears to be context-dependent. STS scholars have critically analyzed the dependency of research on industry and the resulting secrecy or distortion of findings (Krimsky 2013). At the same time, we have critically analyzed the independence of research from civil society, which we consider undemocratic, irresponsive, and dysfunctional. Research has been able to demonstrate that independence from civil society actors contributes to consequential gaps in scientific knowledge (Frickel et al. 2010). Underlying such concerns are some common questions. What does being independent mean for researchers, research groups, and research organizations? Since science is never completely independent, these actors can be thought of as constantly processing dependencies and actively creating and maintaining their independence. How is this achieved? What are the consequences of independence gained or lost? We invite researchers to submit current empirical and theoretical work concerning the conditions for and consequences of the (in)dependence of research or researchers. We are particularly interested in bringing together perspectives from different disciplines and in promoting a dialogue between philosophy, sociology, the economics of science, and political studies of science.
64. Craft as Practises of Knowledge Making
Organized by: Jøran Solli, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Roger Soraa
Craft and craftsmanship have received renewed attention in STS and research on sustainable transitions, i.e. seeing craft as innovation and as “boundary-work” between humans, materiality and policy. This panel wishes to further explore the connection between craft, knowledge and sensibilities; how is the world made sensible through craft and through technology? Professionals and practitioners work with their senses: from carpenters smelling logs to find the best ones to build a house with; musicians hearing what notes to compose; weavers getting the correct touch on their handlooms; baristas tasting their way to coffee-craft perfection; and clockmakers seeing the tiny fragments that composes intricate contraptions, just to name a few. What goes on in the world of craft, where practitioners use their hands, bodies, tactile and sensory apparati to create things? How can STS-researchers understand the embedded and tacit knowledge practitioners inhabit and develop? How are sensibilities of craft contributing to knowledge-making and future-making? The panel welcomes contributions that thematize the practices and processes of craft as knowledge making processes. Of special interest are issues that involve local knowledge, social learning, craftsmanship, transformation of knowledge and technology.
65. Predictability's Promises: Knowing Futures, Practicing Presents
Organized by: Julianne Yip, McGill University; Elizabeth Reddy, UC Irvine; Adam Fleischmann, McGill; Darcie Deangelo, McGill
Modern techniques to render phenomena predictable — including computer models, big data analytics, and global observing systems — have rendered certain possibilties of the future legible, and the "not yet" calculable. Predictability calls forth futures yet-to-come: from forecasts of tomorrow’s weather or Earth’s climate in 100 years to the outcome of political elections; from the next earthquake to hit a population centre to the pathways of infectious diseases; from next year’s consumer choices to next month’s military operation by enemy troops. The concept of 'predictability' is a powerful organizing figure in the production of what could or will be. Insofar as the present is an anticipatory future, 'predictability' also configures the here-and-now: it propels collective epistemic work; fashions ideologies and subject positions; and carves out fields of intervention. Predictability, in short, orders reality in curious ways. Our panel seeks to bring together scholars from diverse fields to explore the ways in which concepts, techniques, and practices of ‘predictability’ are constituted. Panelists in this session may address, but are not limited to, some of the following questions: • How is ‘predictability’ defined in the context under study? What is the history of ‘predictability’ as a concept in this context? • Using what conceptual frameworks, tools, and techniques is ‘predictability’ constituted? What epistemic space do these tools and frameworks give rise to? • How is ‘time’ constituted in the various sciences of predictability? • How is uncertainty brought into the realm of the calculable or measurable? • For what reasons, and for whom, has ‘predictability’ come to matter in different contexts?
66. Making Sense of Practice by Engagement
Organized by: Karin Patzke, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Ellen Foster
Building on discussions and presentations from 4S/EASST in Barcelona as well as other recent conferences, this open (and experimental) panel seeks to create spaces for alternative knowledge practices that examine the epistemological and discursive methods of creating and implementing different ways of knowing and imagining the world. This panel takes seriously Shapin and Schaffer’s claim that “solutions to the problem of knowledge are embedded within practical solutions to the problem of social order” (1985:15). We ask, “how have collectives of practice developed and what are the futures that these collectives imagine?” In conversation with the 2017 4S theme of (In)sensibilities, we hope to engage ways of sensing and sense-making that often exist on the margins or at the boundaries of dominant practices within science and technology. We encourage work that examines how practitioners interpret their own work and if alternatives are indeed as radical as initially assumed. Are alternative knowledge producers in dialogue with hegemonic practices, or are practitioners engaging in novel ways of mapping/charting scientific and epistemic terrains? Most importantly, we expect presenters to abandon the formal presentation style and come to panels prepared to engage the audience in short 15 minute workshop-type experiments that directly communicate alternative ways of making sense of practice. Based on the success of a similar panel we organized last year, we are prepared to work closely with presenters to ensure - at the very least - only partial failure.