Open Panel Topics 67-99
67. Artificial Intelligence: Mediating Coexistence
Organized by: Dora Kaufman, Universidade de Sao Paulo
The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) constitutes the most relevant appropriation of technologies in the contemporary world. "Intelligence" has historically been an exclusive attribute of humans. With AI emerges nonhuman entities endowed with intelligence, in some cases, superior to human intelligence itself. For the first time in history, humans have created something over which they have no control. Experts cannot predict exactly how AI works and how it will behave in the future, leading to the idea of "risk" in AI. From an ethical point of view, two main themes stand out: (a) human control over intelligent systems; and (b) intelligent systems vs human values (moral learning, machine ethics). From these two major themes derive other sub-themes, such as: (i) the sense of anthropocentric perspective; (ii) the viability of intelligent systems that learn human attributes such as consciousness and intuition; (iii) the feasibility of intelligent system autonomy and the maintenance of human control; (iv) the challenge of dealing with the complex system unpredictability; (v) the meaning and threats of a "super intelligence”; (vi) the division of functions in the future society; and (vii) the role of government, the private sector and academia (terms of collaboration). Related to the conference theme emerges the question of how to connect human sensitivity with the "sensitivity" of intelligent machines. This panel invites submissions on how we can theorize and mediate this coexistence.
68. Technoscience Rent
Organized by: Kean Birch, York University
As an increasing number of 'things' (e.g. infrastructure, student debt, medical care, personal data, sunlight, etc.) are turned into assets, it is necessary to work out how value is appropriated from those assets through new forms of 'rentiership' (or rent-seeking). Often presented as the dark side of innovation and entrepreneurship, rent-seeking comes in many forms, including: government fiat (e.g. GHG emissions); monopoly (e.g. intellectual property); organizational arrangements (e.g. business models); and market configurations (e.g. value chains and networks). It is necessary, however, to move beyond the assumptions built into both Marxist and neoclassical economic literatures that rent-seeking is a problematic activity that distorts or corrupts the ‘naturalized’ working of capitalism or free markets. Instead, the purpose of this open panel is to consider these different forms of rentiership as they relate to different forms of technoscience in order to unpack the concept analytically and empirically and its relevance to science, technology, and innovation politically and normatively. The panel welcomes papers on different forms of rentiership in technoscience, different conceptions of rentiership drawing on Marxist, neoclassical, and other traditions, and discussions of the analytical, political, and normative usefulness of rentiership as a concept.
69. Cripping Feminist Technoscience
Organized by: Kelly Fritsch, University of Toronto; Aimi Hamraie, Vanderbilt University
Science and technology studies charts the active production of scientific knowledge and technological worlds through the entanglement of material, social, political, economic, and historical forces. While not always engaging with the concept of “technoscience,” scholars of critical, feminist, and crip disability studies often build on the foundational claim of disability studies that natural and built environments are constructed rather than given, offering a critical perspective on the ways science and technology shape the expression, enactment, or elimination of disability, impairment, and illness. As a growing number of scholars are engaging with the emergent field of crip and feminist technoscience studies, we seek presentations that map some of the central nodes of the field of crip technoscience. We foreground crip theory as that which marks disability as a desirable and generative social, political, and material phenomenon, countering normative expectations for embodiments, behaviors, and onto-epistemologies. Through crip theory, we emphasize the mobilization of difference and embodiment, and we seek to engage rather than eschew technoscience, politicizing the relationships, activisms, and products of technoscientific practices. In this panel we invite papers that theorize the following: how does crip technoscience highlight the ways that disability, impairment, chronic conditions, illness, madness, Deafness, neurodiversity (among other crip ways of being) shape our practices, ontologies, and epistemologies?
70. Tensions and Challenges for Environmental Citizen Science
Organized by: Aya Kimura, Univ. Hawaii-Manoa; Abby Kinchy
Citizen science is at the heart of many of today’s environmental controversies. Natural scientists have also shown tremendous interest in using citizens to generate data, and many people are excited about participating in gamified, crowd-sourced, big data collection. STS scholarship has typically applauded these efforts because they make science more participatory, providing an example of the democratization of science, or, at least, more equitable engagement between experts and the lay public. However, citizen science may or may not produce knowledge that is useful to environmental activists. Additionally, the degree to which citizen science can help communities to address social inequality, rectify environmental injustice, and produce accountability of government and corporate entities varies depending on broader political and social contexts. This panel seeks presentations from scholars who critically examine how citizen science enhances struggles for social change beyond merely generating data through volunteer participation. We are particularly interested in projects that situate dilemmas and tensions in citizen science in the broader context of colonialism, neoliberalization, globalization, and scientization. For example, citizen science can inadvertently facilitate neoliberal budget cuts in environmental monitoring, further reducing government capacity. Likewise, citizen science can accelerate the “scientization” of environmental issues, reducing complex social and ethical challenges to technical matters.
71. Gender in Academia: Past, Present, and Future
Organized by: Knut H. Sorensen, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Vivian A. Lagesen, NTNU
STS, in particular feminist technoscience studies, has long been concerned with the co-production of gender with various aspects of technoscience, including the analysis of gender (im)balance in technoscientific institutions. This panel calls for papers that analyse gender (im)balance in universities and other scientific organisations to improve the understanding of gender balance dynamics in different contexts. Such dynamics could be explored within specific disciplines, acknowledging the substantial differences within the STEM field, the life sciences as well as the social sciences and the humanities. What kind of disciplinary and/or local cultures stimulate or impede the improvement of gender balance among professors, post docs and PhD students? How is gender co-produced with class, ethnicity, and age? Observations of large variations with respect to gender balance may be seen to challenge feminist technoscience theories that make general claims about gender in/of science. Does this mean that these theories need to be modified? Another important field of inquiry is the role of gender balance with respect to choice of research topics and approaches. Does an improved gender balance change the culture of doing research? Papers addressing the shaping of inclusion instruments and their effects with respect to gender balance among the various kinds of scientific positions are also welcomed. Why may some instruments be more effective than others? In general, papers that converse with STS and feminist technoscience will be given priority.
72. Studying Data Critically: Epistemologies of Data-driven Knowledge Production
Organized by: Laura Noren, New York University; Charlotte Cabasse-Mazel, UC Berkeley; Brittany Fiore-Gartland, UW-Seattle; Stuart Geiger, UC Berkeley
The goal of this track is to continue to deepen and expand the development of critical data studies within STS. STS research has investigated the ontological and epistemological (Craig and Thatcher, 2014; Kitchin and Lauriault, 2014; Leonelli, 2015), social, ethical, philosophical, and sociotechnical (Neff and Fiore-Gartland, 2015; Seaver, 2015; Beer) consequences of the emergence of data and computational practices as processes of contemporary knowledge production. This panel track invites scholars who are investigating the epistemological challenges that data scientific processes of knowledge production present to more established applications of scientific methods. We invite papers that investigate how data science is augmenting, subverting, inverting, and otherwise altering the way knowledge production operates. In particular, we are interested in domains including astrophysicists, genomics/proteomics/precision medicine researchers, neuroscientists, agronomists, ecologists, political scientists, sociologists, business and financial analysts, mathematicians and artificial intelligence researchers. Methodologically, we encourage papers that utilize quantitative and qualitative methods, including standard and trace ethnographic approaches. We invite: 1. Situated case studies of data science in action in particular domains especially the sciences. 2. Efforts to “provincialize” (Chakrabarty, 2007) the current mainstream data/computational narratives and provide space for expansive data discourses. 3. Work that offers a clear articulation of data science studies situated within a Science and Technologies Studies theoretical and empirical context. 4. Methodological considerations of the digital and analog toolbox necessary to conduct multi-sited, trans-disciplinary, humanspace + bitspace research.
73. Interdisciplinarity and Universities
Organized by: Liudvika Leisyte, University of Arizona; Erin Leahey
Today, interdisciplinarity is on the rise, and is being promoted at multiple levels. The Europe 2020 agenda emphasizes interdisciplinarity to foster cross-cutting and potentially innovative research. National governments increasingly orient themselves towards addressing societal challenges like aging and global warming. Universities are funding cross-department research initiatives (Biancani, McFarland, Dahlander, & Owens, 2012) and supporting the development of interdisciplinary research centers or institutes (Berman, 2012). Despite policy enthusiasm for interdisciplinarity, systematic investigation of both its rise and its effects has been limited. There has been little empirical research on the link between university policies and interdisciplinary engagement (Jacobs & Frickel, 2009). There is even less research that shows if and how these policies and practices at university level influence university as well as individual productivity. This panel addresses this link between interdisciplinarity and universities as organizations by pursuing the following questions: How do supra-national and national research policy arrangements promote structural change towards interdisciplinarity at universities? How can university engagement in, and commitment to, interdisciplinarity be measured? How do universities promote interdisciplinarity in their own institutions? Why are some universities more highly committed to interdisciplinarity than others? How do individual academics respond to interdisciplinary initiatives at their own institutions? How might interdisciplinarity-oriented policies and practices at universities influence university research productivity? How do interdisciplinarity-oriented policies and practices at universities affect individual faculty scholarship?
74. Technological Innovation, Primary Healthcare and Social Justice
Organized by: Hui Luo, National Academy of Innovation Strategy, China Association for Science and Technology (NAIS, CAST); Zhengfeng Li, Tsinghua University; Xinqing Zhang, Peking Union Medical College; Achim Rosemann, Warwick
Primary healthcare refers to the most essential healthcare services, based on the idea of social justice and the right to better health for all. These principles were laid down in the declaration of Alma Ata in 1978 and were subsequently adopted by WHO. Four decades later, the realisation of universal access to primary healthcare remains an unachieved goal. While new opportunities emerge from the development of new medical technologies in STS researches, there are concerns that investments in new healthcare technologies could be spent in more efficiently ways. This panel invites authors to examine opportunities, pitfalls and practical challenges of contemporary technological innovations in primary healthcare. It addresses the (in)sensibilities of S&T developments in primary healthcare from a cross-country perspective, the prism of social inequality and cultural diversity, in order to generate novel and comparative insights into the following issues (but not limited to): the use and distribution of new technologies in primary healthcare, e.g. electronic health record and medical devices; the tensions that emerge between adoption of new technologies and needs of locally-evolved models of primary healthcare, that require a certain level of flexibility and adaptability; the balance between integration of new technological innovations and need for continued investments to increase the quality and quantity of local healthcare personnel; and the logistic challenge of training healthcare staff to adequately use new technologies, as well as strategies to identify and overcome cultural barriers to use of new healthcare technology among patients.
75. Plasticity, Postgenomics, and the Politics of Possibility: Critical Reflections on the Environmental Turn in the Life Sciences
Organized by: Maurizio Meloni, University of Sheffield; Martine Lappé, Columbia University; Becky Mansfield, OSU
The past decade has seen a growing appreciation in the life sciences for the complex relationships between biological and social life. Novel concepts in postgenomic biology and claims of an “environmental turn” in the life sciences are viewed by some scholars as challenging genetic determinism and its emphasis on the fixity of traits and behaviours. Others have raised concerns about the social and political dimensions of these developments. In line with the conference theme of (in)sensibilities, this open panel calls attention to the concept of plasticity, which has emerged as central in a number of burgeoning disciplines including social neuroscience, environmental epigenetics, nutrigenomics, microbiomics, and developmental origins of health and disease. The panel will bring together papers that critically examine plasticity from various disciplinary, empirical, and theoretical perspectives. We invite papers that look at the complexity and ambiguity of plasticity, its meanings and potential consequences for the governance of life processes and populations, its temporal and gender politics, its impacts on sociotechnical imaginaries across contexts, and its implications for social and environmental justice in the Global North and South. Far from celebrating plasticity, we invite papers to critically reflect on its relationship to contemporary shifts in the life and social sciences, its historical legacy, and the promises and hype surrounding the concept. The panel seeks to broaden our critical imagination and to support scholarship that thoughtfully engages claims that a more profound biosocial era is upon us, in which the innate and the environmental, historical and contemporary, are increasingly entangled.
76. Sociotechnical Approaches to Privacy and Data Protection
Organized by: Meg Jones, Georgetown University; Katie Shilton, University of Maryland
A January, 2016, survey found more Americans are worried about data privacy than losing their main source of income. To date, Google has removed over 663,280 URLs from personal search results in response to users exercising their right to be forgotten. And since July, 2016, 120 journalists have been arrested in Turkey for content expressed online. Privacy and data protection have become incredibly complex, relevant topics. Approaches to privacy and data protection are often either legal (with an emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of the individual rational subject and formal governance tools of the state) or technical (with a focus on machine capabilities, problems, and solutions). However, some of the most influential recent thinking on privacy and data protection has explicitly incorporated sociotechnical knowledge and approaches. As STS scholars engaged in privacy and data protection issues, we believe that work on the sociotechnical problems of surveillance, dignity, intimacy, boundary negotiation, memory, forgetting, and data-facilitated power can advance both the technical and legal aspects as well as the economic, ethical, social, international, and historical aspects of the conversations. We solicit papers that address these topics from a sociotechnical perspective. This may include but is not limited to topics related to: Privacy as a social challenge; Privacy and technology in historical context; Sociotechnical facets of data protection; Privacy and boundary negotiation by individuals and communities; Impacts of datafication on individuals and communities; Memory and forgetting; Data imperatives, economies, and/or cultures; Global politics, surveillance, and speech.
77. STS, Critical Design, and the Critical Digital Humanities
Organized by: James Malazita, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
This track aims to bring together scholars working at the intersections of Science and Technology Studies, politically-engaged Design and Making work (including Speculative and Critical Design & Making), and the Critical Digital Humanities, in order to share perspectives on the methods, challenges, and stakes of “doing” STS and the humanities in material and digital form. This track is envisioned as a critical complement to the “Making and Doing” event—while the Making and Doing event affords the ability for STS scholars to showcase their design work, this track affords space for critically reflecting upon the spaces, ideologies, mediations, and politics embedded within and enacted through the intersections of STS scholarship and materially-engaged design work. Possible paper topics include critical analyses of current and previous STS-engaged design and digital projects (including the presenter’s own); reflections on the institutional, infrastructural, and ideological constraints of doing alternative and materially-engaged scholarship; issues of the power and position of scholars designing and making in academic and non/tangentially-academic spaces; potentials and risks of doing interpretive and critical scholarship via technologically-mediated design work; and future directions for STS and humanities design. We are particularly interested in critical perspectives on design from feminist, postcolonial, and queer standpoints, and on design and DH projects, spaces, and methods that specifically address questions of power, oppression, access, ontology, and materiality. We also extend invitations to “making and doing” scholars engaged in STS-related work in intersecting fields, including Media Studies, Literature & Science, and Design.
78. Historical (In)Sensibilities
Organized by: Martina Schluender, University of Toronto; Susanne Bauer, TIK-Oslo; Nils Güttler, ETH-Zurich
Throughout the past decade, the fields of STS and the history of science and technology have increasingly engaged in largely separate debates. This is curious, because STS and the history of science and technology share both a common genealogy and still many overlaps in topics and methods. History (or historical settings and case studies) has stimulated STS for decades, and practices/modes of temporalization traverse the STS literature as a matter of course. Empirical matters in STS such as in climate science, geology or biosciences are often historical in themselves. But at the same time, some scholars experience that inflating STS concepts with history does not resonate with the concerns of the field. The goal of this panel is to rekindle a debate between STS scholars studying contemporary phenomena and historians of science and technology. We invite papers which address, for example, the following questions: How to address historicity in research on contemporary phenomena in the here and now? Is history about the past or about the present? What can STS learn from debates in history, for instance over historiography? How do we deal with versions of the past, their presences, half-presences or hauntings in STS concepts? We invite contributions that reflect and address such frictions, as they engage with different empirical materials.
79. Island Imaginaries: From Repositories to Experimental Labs
Organized by: Mascha Gugganig, Technical University Munich; Maximilian Mayer, Tongji University
Particularly in western thought, islands have borne a fascination for “exceptional“ ecologies or “remote” human societies and political systems. As repositories conducive not only to evolutionary theories but for theorizing the social, their potential for intervention has equally been an allure. Colonial empires, military logistics, and also philanthropists have turned islands into experimental labs of the natural, technical, and the social. Examples range from nuclear tests to developing genetically engineered crops or testing electrical grid systems in more contemporary times. Bringing together these two island imaginaries – repository and experimental lab – allows exploring how islands and their oceanic environments, in the gaze of outsiders, emerge as sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff & Kim 2015) that constitute both the exceptional Other to be preserved (biodiversity, culture), and synecdoches of the world. This panel examines island imaginaries by inviting research in STS and other disciplines, such as international relations, geography, indigenous studies, anthropology, and history. The papers aim to query the normative virtue of “original,” “remote”, “untouched” (social and natural) states, as well as the experimental intervention as normalized, unquestioned undertakings of modernity in the distance. We ask how islands are made sense-able through diverse modes of knowledge-making. How do experienced realities of island inhabitants (see Hau'ofa 1993) challenge established accounts of islands? How to account for the heterogeneity that emerges from conflicting imaginaries and experiences? Building on recent STS scholarship, the panel seeks conceptual and ethnographic accounts of historical and contemporary cases of islands as technoscientific test beds. Discussant: Rebecca Lemov, Harvard University.
80. STEM Education: Conservative Restoration and Neoliberal Retrenchment
Organized by: Matthew Weinstein, University of Washington-Tacoma
This sequel to a 2015 open session looks at schools through an STS lens as sites of technoscientific occupational and ideological production. Since 2015, some state policies have shifted towards more fractious, nationalist, and conservative directions, e.g., in US, UK, and Turkey, simultaneous with a redoubling of neoliberal commitments globally. How these systems interact in the formation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educations is the subject of this panel. We seek papers that explore, interrupt, rearticulate, critique STEM education policy or practice with in the contemporary contexts. In the 2000s STEM emerged as an articulation of traditional distinct disciplines. STEM promoted neoliberal, capitalist, and militarist logics/priorities, e.g. in its emphasis on human capital, promotion of market hegemony in the purposes of science and mathematics, and its fetishization of entrepreneurial subjectivities. Political ruptures such as Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US signal a shift or retreat in the circulation of these discourses. Even earlier, the passage in the US of Every Student Succeeds Act signaled power’s operations away from central managerialism. With rising conservativisms, governmental power is shifting to networks that challenges climate change, promote resource extraction, and endorse religious ideologies promoting conservative national, racial and gender orders. This panel invites papers that examine both the articulation of STEM educations to this new ideoscape and that examine either strategic or unconscious resistance to those logics at the levels of policy or practice through philosophical, discursive and/or empirical work, globally.
81. Public Health and Zika: A War on Environmental Ethics?
Organized by: Mary Duggan
The Zika virus is not a new disease. It was discovered in the 1940's. New information on the modes of virus transmission, along with the visual impact of Zika-related birth defects, create an atmosphere of threat. While virus transmission may happen (and thus be stopped) in a number of ways, new developments in mosquito control technologies may challenge emerging ideas of environmental ethics. What are the consequences of such technologies? What is (or should be) the relationship between technologies of public health and environmental ethics? This panel invites papers exploring mosquito control technologies in public health, ranging from GMO to traditional door to door awareness.
82. What does the Smart Office Know?
Organized by: Melissa Gregg, Intel Corporation; Tamara Kneese
In the spirit of STS scholars who have studied configurations of non-human and human actors (Braidotti 2013, Haraway 2008, Hayles 1999, Sharp 2011), this panel asks: Can an office ever be smart? What skills will a building need to prove its value? How do humans respond to jobs and environments that are intended to make them irrelevant? These and other reflections on the smart office are necessary to situate the imminent Internet of Things (IOT) in the broader history of office automation. From artificial intelligence to embedded assistance, the smart office ostensibly solves workplace inefficiencies by applying the processing power of cognitive computing. But it does this on terms that favor the enterprise. The worker’s experience is rarely prioritized, even though the specificity of human skill will be increasingly important as nonhuman agents contribute to a digitally augmented workplace. This panel welcomes papers on the taskification of white-collar work, the role of virtual agents in the labor process and the prospect of instrumented, computational objects as peer companions for workers. We seek contributions that can inform the design of both IT and management protocols in this new landscape, to overcome historical biases in the composition of assistive technologies, and to ensure the possibility of sustainable and fulfilling workplaces. Further topics of interest include: Filing, finding and searching the cloud; “Below the line” office labor; Ergonomics, aesthetics and euthenics; Surveillance, measurement and privacy; Interspecies sociality and IOT.
83. Theorizing Harm
Organized by: Beza Merid, University of Southern California; Max Liboiron, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Whether focused on toxicity, disease, disaster, violence, or malfunction, STS scholars have long studied harm. Given the great diversity of approaches and cases, this panel seeks to take an intersectional approach to theorizing harm. We ask how harm is re/defined by the systems it is part of. In Mary Douglas’ theorization of pollution, she claims that, “where there is dirt, there is system: […] a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order” (1988: 36). Harm is also a contravention of order. What characterizes these orders and their infringement? How are definitions of harm challenged and what is being challenged, exactly? How do different metrics, modes of management, regimes of perceptibility, systems of power, and accountability co-define harm? What are the spatialities and temporalities of harm, and how do they co-construct harm? In short, what is harm and why? The answers will depend on their cases, but we hold that despite differences, there are unifying characteristics. We seek to explore these through a collection of papers that explicitly theorize harm. We invite papers from a wide range of approaches to thinking about harm: pollution, biomedicine, ecosystems, disease, labor, race, class, gender, Indigeneity, law, risk, history, reproductive justice, media studies, repair studies, and more. Note that we are seeking papers that explicitly theorize harm, as opposed to those that describe it or its metrics.
84. If Not Now Then When: STS and Critical Race Theory
Organized by: Michael Mascarenhas, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
In an era of colorblind racism, using the category of race is widely decried as racist; for example, including race as a factor in college admissions is seen by some not only as no longer necessary but as a form of “reverse racism.” Shamefully, in Science, Technology, and Society, with a few notable exceptions, race and new racial formations are at best under-theorized and at worst, simply ignored. There is no excuse for race to continue to be sidelined in STS scholarship and institution-building. Artifacts, boundary objects, trading zones and laboratories still fascinate us, at a time when science is increasingly being conducted outside laboratories by street scientists, many of them people of color. We include primates, scallops, dinosaurs, and sheep in our analysis, and yet we rarely include race in our multi sited and multi species discipline. Papers in this panel will examine contemporary features and surfaces of the DuBoisian colorline from an STS and critical race perspective. Subjects of interest will include, but are not limited to, Black Lives Matter, Flint, Ferguson, white privilege and other matters of racial inequality and justice.
85. Sense and Nonsense in Modern Mathematics
Organized by: Michael Barany, Dartmouth College
This open panel seeks submissions on the history, sociology, and cultural studies of modern mathematics that explore how changing forms of abstract and theoretical knowledge have related to changing material and sensory means of making sense of such knowledge. Modern mathematics features a distinctive and multilayered sensorium of formalisms, images, and embodied practices for creating and coming to agreement about facts and conclusions that can often seem distant from or independent of mathematicians' physical worlds and social contexts. Mathematicians decide what is valid, suggestive, promising, meaningful, or useful through a wide variety of interactions susceptible to investigation, from personal discussions in offices or in front of blackboards to presentations in lecture halls to long-distance theory-work through letters, articles, and digital platforms. These interactions make potentially nonsensical flurries of signs and figures into meaningful mathematics. By tracing the seam joining sense-work and sense-making for apparently non-sensical or para-sensical intellectual formations, contributions to this panel should situate mathematical ideas in embodied social environments. Such studies can show how mathematical institutions, communications media, and other settings and means of sense-making make possible the abstract, formal systems that mathematicians create, while giving rise to consensus, rigor, certainty, and (one may go so far as to say) truth.
86. The Agenda(s) of Open Science
Organized by: Philip Mirowski, University of Notre Dame
Open Science' began as a rebellion against paywalled journals but has rapidly morphed into a project to re-engineer the very process of research. Ranging from early stage reconnaissance to crowdfunding to DIY and online lab services to publication services and distributed peer review, we are observing the early stages of a Taylorized and reconfigured research process. The eventual terminus seems to be a Facebook for science — a mega-platform that undergirds all the individual components, providing the ultimate panopticon of science. This panel invites papers that explore the individual components, as well as the politics, that promote the ultimate marketplace of ideas.
87. STS in Practice
Organized by: Alli Morgan, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
How are STS concepts and “thought styles” being relayed to emergency medical technicians, radiation health specialists, aerospace engineers, and other expert communities? How has STS been brought into K-12 and community education? Extending Science and Technology Studies (STS) research that has theorized and contextualized the emergence and organization of different fields of expertise, the proposed stream of papers and panels will explore how STS “thought styles” have been shared, interpreted and taken up in diverse educational and expert arenas. Building from the 2017 conference focus on contemporary (in)sensibilities in STS, contributions will interrogate the promises and challenges of developing and cultivating STS thought styles in different contexts. Papers can focus on STS in public health and emergency response, law, engineering, urban planning, and data science, for example, describing how STS theory, empirical cases, and modes of making-and-doing are understood, cultivated, and are making different kinds of differences. Together, papers can help build an analytic and evaluative framework for understanding STS in diverse instantiations and contexts.
88. In the making, On the move: Global Perspectives on Technology Appropriation
Organized by: Martín Pérez Comisso, Universidad de Chile; Justin F. Pickard, University of Sussex
Stories about technology are often narrated from the myth of the hero: genius men who, in specific moments of lucidity that reflect the feeling of an era, rescue an invention, an innovation, for the professions. Different models have been proposed to overcome this hero narrative: e.g., changing the point of observation of history, or focusing on controversies, trajectories or agencies that explain the momentum, impact or evolution of an artifact or system. This panel proposes that stories of artefacts and systems are (re)sensitized through the study of technological appropriation, a process that allows us to observe these trajectories from an antiheroic perspective, with an emphasis on the global diversity of user groups, sites, contexts, platforms, infrastructures involved in their access, learning, incorporation and transformation of technologies in use. The rewriting and restructuring of a given technology can be seen from a paradigm of mobilities (Urry et al.), which allows us to open our accounts to heterodox approaches in the histories of technologies (postcolonial, collectivist, feminist, among others). This panel hopes to be a space for dialogue and debate about stories of technological appropriation. We're looking for comparative works, explicitly global, either on dynamics or extended cases on the cultural processes of a technology in a particular community — e.g., Capable Share Studies on the appropriation in multiple locations that represent the different stages of the evolution of a certain technology.
89. Feelings and Doubt in Technoscience
Organized by: Monika Sengul-Jones, UC San Diego; Amanda Menking, University of Washington
“Post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016. This neologism refers to how appeals to emotion—and even deliberate deception—influence the ignorance of, or rejection of facts. Feelings, and subjectivities more generally, have long been a focus of STS work. STS scholars have sought to mete out the complex relationships between positionality, affects, and networks that lead to knowledge-making claims and their role in truth-regimes. This panel seeks to address our contemporary moment’s crises of about “truth” in critical retrospective: to use the methodological tools of STS to offer a nuanced examination of the longstanding, complex relationships between feelings and doubts about technoscience historically and today. This panel invites papers that speak to a range of topics including: feelings of morality and postcolonialism (see Schiebinger 2004); the feelings that engender the spread of ignorance (see Proctor 2016); gender, feelings, and science (Harding 1991; Keller 1983); entanglements of affects and biology (Wilson, 2015); commercial industries and doubt about scientific consensus (Oreskes and Conway 2011); and gender and attachments to personal beliefs, such as vaccinations (see Reich 2014). This panel will facilitate inter-generational conversations around an important topic harmonized with the theme of 4S in 2017. “Feelings and Doubt in Technoscience” will interrogate thoughtfully and reflectively the conference’s call to bring attention to “(in)sensibilities of contemporary technoscience,” by addressing the technological and cultural means by which feelings about technoscience lead to it being ridiculed as nonsense, marshaled to incense, and/or make sense.
90. Crisis Infrastructures and the Politics of Interdependence
Organized by: Dylan Mulvin, Microsoft Research; Cait McKinney
This panel seeks papers that address activist responses to crisis in surfacing networked relationships of interdependency and vulnerability. Following several ongoing avenues of inquiry in STS, including care-work dynamics in technoscientific disciplines, the precarity of infrastructures, and a longue-durée reconsideration of network histories, we are seeking papers that consider moments of crisis that model infrastructure for at-risk (precarious) populations and justify the need for social/technical repair. We are particularly interested in social justice, feminist, and anti-colonial perspectives that foreground how activists or community groups intervene in technological infrastructures through forms of care, maintenance, and repair. The panel understands “crisis” as a way of describing how vulnerability is distributed through infrastructures: while crises are unlivable to some (the AIDS Crisis, The Prison Industrial Complex, Climate Change), they can appear as the normal state of things to others. Potential questions include: 1) How are emergent technological practices, protocols, and standards worked out within conditions of precarity, and by whom?; How do network infrastructures become apparent as "objects” with which activists or community stakeholders might intervene?; Within a crisis, who perceives and responds to the imperative to care for infrastructure through processes of maintenance and repair and how can the intersection of STS and social justice frameworks help contextualize this work?
91. The Ends of the Nervous System
Organized by: Matthew Wolf-Meyer, Binghamton University
The nervous system has long been seen as a mediating organ, warning the individual of external threats, tempting the individual with worldly pleasures; the nervous system depends upon the senses to bring the world into individual sensibility, and is thereby structured by sociotechnical environments and cultural value systems. Moreover, the nervous system is the basis of individual experience of the world, and might be seen as the primary mechanism through which social obligations, cultural expectations, and institutional demands are meted out; as an organ, it is intrinsic to the individual and dependent upon a world to mediate. And yet physicians and scientists often conceptualize the nervous system as a monadic, bounded, internal system, divorced even from other organ systems. But there have been other ways of conceptualizing the nervous system, including mid-20th century cybernetics, recent attention to the interrelation between the gut microbiome and cognition, anthropological descriptions of non-scopocentric sensory systems, and more recent experimentation with sense-integrating prosthetics that simulate touch. In this panel, we invite papers that interrogate the nervous system. What other models might be employed to conceptualize the nervous system and its fundamental role in mediating individual and group experiences of the world? How might the integration of these ways of conceptualizing the nervous system challenge how the body is configured in its relationships to the environment, other species, and technology? And how might reconceptualizing the nervous system enable new ways to think about the brain and its capacities, neurological disorders, aging, and intimacy?
92. Smart yet (in)Sensible? Feminist Critical Perspectives on “Smart Cities”
Organized by: Nassim JafariNaimi, Georgia Institute of Technology; Kathi Kitner, Intel Labs; Beth Coleman, University of Waterloo; Mara Balestrini, Ideas for Change
The Smart City is a topic with global importance across diverse sites. Consider recent initiatives such as the White House's “Smart Cities”, New York’s Sidewalk Labs, or Smart City Barcelona, all vying to define the city as a magical frontier full of “smart technologies” that will benefit its citizens. The smart city evokes images of a techno-utopic city: where traffic flow is managed efficiently; where data move at lightning speed to underpin ‘smart’ decision making; where negative environmental impacts are sensed and defused. Implicit in these scenarios is the material infrastructure that supports them: high-speed connectivity, sensors, the Internet of Things, and Big Data. In light of such ubiquitous computing “smart” city systems, this panel asks: is the “smart city” a sensible city? Contributing to the growing social science critique of “smart” cities, this panel problematizes the “tidy” and “efficient” vision of technologically determined smart city system design. The panel asks questions such as: In what ways do smart cities reinforce or disrupt structures of power, modes of knowledge creation, or everyday experiences and encounters? Does smart city design facilitate opportunities for civic agency and civic imaginaries—in other words how might we understand “smart” technologies in relation to sense (accessible and actionable) and sensibility (affective and engaged)? We invite papers that reflect on the past, present, and futures of smart city discourses and practices from critical perspectives of Science and Technology Studies that include feminist, critical race theory, data science, urban planning, and design studies, among others.
93. Security in the Anthropocene: The Peripheries of Order
Organized by: Nathanael Bassett, University of Illinois at Chicago; Jason Archer
Anthropos and the nonhuman are separated by the rift of communication, but this does not preclude the existence of many ecologies connecting the two. Mutualism and animosity bind actants in codependency and competition over interests. Both the organic materiality of animals and the political prescriptions of artifacts speak to an intentionality sometimes at odds with the human. This space of conflict is where Donna Haraway calls for “making kin.” But how can we do this? Sensibility is an affective force asserted on the world, according to Franco Berardi. It emerges in the episteme and “the order of things” as Foucault writes. Perfect or true language is not one of communion between actants, but of power and direction. Communication expresses and manifests intentions, and sensibility comes from recognizing those orders. Insensibility comes from a disconnect between hostile design and users, between the persecutors and victims of coercion, and between humans and exploited ecosystems. Sensibility emerges from strict rules of contact - commands in programming, chemical interactions vis a vis pheromones, and mechanical and structural defenses in plant growth. For instance, Anthropos’s appreciation for sensibility in animals arrives with domestication, a form of genetic and social conditioning where the human arrives at a place of understanding with tamed beasts. Does sensible communication always carry the subtext of control? This panel invites papers examining strategies for overcoming insensibility and insecurity in sociotechncial systems and beween actants. Whether or not sense-making is always a process of conflict remains to be seen.
94. Drs. Mom and Dad: Patient and Caregiver Expertise and the Reconfiguration of Medical Authority
Organized by: Nicholas Buchanan, University of Freiburg
This panel investigates the ways that increasingly knowledgeable patients and caregivers—sometimes known as “expert patients” or “Drs. Mom and Dad”—are reconfiguring medical authority. Doctor-patient relationships are traditionally rigidly hierarchical, in part because doctors have possessed greater knowledge than their patients. Today, however, this is changing. Thanks in part to new information technologies that make biomedical research widely available while simultaneously making possible new communities centered on disease and illness, patients and their caregivers are increasingly expert about their conditions and treatment options. No longer reliant on their doctors as their main source of information, patients and caregivers can learn about new research, compare “standard” treatments among hospitals and even between countries, and gain an overview about how others with their condition are treated. They are marshaling this new-found expertise to advocate for themselves and others, while unsettling assumptions that “the doctor knows best.” We invite papers that explore the reconfiguration of medical authority and its intersections with numerous themes within STS, including the construction and contestant of expertise, social movements and new medias, professionalization, and the social study of pharmaceuticals and medicine. Papers might also address how the reconfiguration of medical authority raises questions about what counts as accurate, authoritative, or actionable knowledge; considerations of race, class, and gender in the formation of expert-patients and -caregivers; tensions and bridges between theoretical and experiential knowledge of health, disease, and treatment; access to information and health-related communities; the reasons that patients and caregivers become their own medical experts; and variations in professional responses across national and institutional contexts.
95. Transdisciplinary Research: Transforming Sensibilities and/or Making Usable Knowledge?
Organized by: Nicole Klenk, University of Toronto
Over the last 40 years, the traditional model of science conducted by individual researchers has evolved into various models of ‘big science’, as illustrated by the increasing number of transdisciplinary research networks at local, regional and international scales in the global environmental change research community. Transdisciplinary research networks such as Future Earth are deemed necessary to address complex problems not amenable to individual research grants. Our session moves beyond the epistemological and methodological research on the nuts and bolts of how to improve the effectiveness of stakeholder-engaged research; we seek, rather, to gain a better understanding of how the performance of stakeholder-engaged research transforms the sensibilities of researchers and stakeholders and its impacts on the production of “useable science” in different geographical locations. Building upon recent scholarship on the logics of interdisciplinarity (Barry and Born, 2013), the remaking public participation in science (Chilvers and Kearnes, 2016), socio-technical imaginaries (Jasanoff and Kim, 2015) and imaginaries of publics in public engagement in science (Welsh and Wynne, 2013; Felt et al., 2016), we are interested in gaining a geopolitical understanding of the relationship between imaginaries of stakeholders, individual and collective sensibilities, and transdisciplinary research practices across different geographical locations. In line with the theme of the conference, our session invites scholars to ask how do researchers and stakeholders make sense of each other in transdisciplinary research settings, and to consider in what ways does this “sensitizing” generate (or not) usable knowledge in different socio-political contexts?
96. Visualizing Security: Remote Sensing, Visualization Technologies and the Making of Risk and (In)securities
Organized by: Nina Witjes, Technical University Munich; Nikolaus Pöchhacker, TUM
Recently, questions of security — as a set of practices, power relations and socio-technical configurations — have regained attention within the STS community, leading to promising intersections with work in security studies and criminology. With this panel, we seek to contribute to the emerging dialogue by exploring the role of visual technologies and sensing practices for the production of (in)securities. Building on and extending the approach of visual securitization (cf. Hansen 2013), our aim is to engage with practices of inscribing and circulating different semantic and political meanings in visualizations of security. We invite contributions that explore how visualization technologies are co-productive (cf. Jasanoff 2004) for the social construction of threats and changing modes of sense-making in security governance. Submissions might address the following (non-exhaustive) topics: ● How are risks and uncertainties encoded within security-related visualizations, e.g. satellite imagery, drones, Big Data analytics for policing or heat-maps? ● Which different socio-technical imaginaries are inscribed in visualizations of security? How are visualizations of security and risk communicated differently in different context, e.g. in international security policy or urban policing practices? ● What are the (in-)visibilities in security visualizations, e.g. when it comes to risk assessment and disaster communication and coordination? ● What is the role of visualizations in the making of conflicts and state power dynamics? ● How can we link theoretical and conceptual approaches from STS, security studies, and criminology to understand visualizations of security?
97. Sensing Technologies and Global Politics
Organized by: Nina Witjes, Technical University Munich; Laurie Waller, TUM
This panel seeks to bring together researchers studying or working with sensing technologies to explore relations between sensing and global politics. We are particularly interested in how sensing devices - from satellites and drones to environmental sensor networks and digital sensing infrastructures – become invested with global and socio-political significance. For instance, how do sensing infrastructures unsettle global orders and how are they accommodated? What kinds of 'infrastructural inversions' occur when sensors become objects of international political controversy? How are particular expert/lay sensing practices translated into global knowledge claims? What kinds of global issue-spaces emerge through participatory sensing? The panel aims to bring together social and political research on sensing from across STS, sociology and International Relations. We invite papers that explore how established repertoires of global politics (e.g. geo-politics, international political economy or political ecology) get (re)articulated in sensing practices and (de)stabilise infrastructures. We welcome empirical contributions from researchers deploying sensors, sensed data, sensing practices and discourses to understand and practically engage with global problems. Papers using sensing concepts to problematise theories and disciplinary formalisms of global politics are also encouraged. Submissions might address: sensing practices, politics and state-making processes; surveillance, secrecy, and issues of global security; sensor networks within globalized data infrastructures; participatory and device-centred approaches to sensing; environmental sensing and activism; visualisation and publicity of sensed data.
98. Breaking Codes: Technologies from a Gender Perspective
Organized by: Patricia Pena, Universidad de Chile; Maria Goñi, Universidad de La Republica, Uruguay; Marcela Suarez, Freie Universität Berlin; Kemly Camacho, Cooperativa Sulabatsu, Costa Rica
What does it mean to produce knowledge linked to digital technologies from a gender and/or feminist perspective? What is implied in thinking about technological developments from a feminist perspective? How does the women's and feminists' movement appropriate and make use of these technologies? While these questions have been confronted experientially around the world, they have not necessarily been incorporated into academic research and analysis. Attention is increasingly focused on the development of STEM disciplines from a gender perspective, yet it appears that actions continue to be biased and an intersectional perspective is lacking. Meanwhile, there is territory still unexplored in relation to the contributions and linkages made by women, as users and consumers of technology, but also as its creators and producers. In the field of technological development, the link between different knowledges is fundamental to investigate and systematize problems identified by women. Finally, there are multiple experiences of the use of technologies by feminist movements, but how have they been integrated into the construction of new narratives and the development of countercultural strategies? This panel seeks reflections, from a feminist view, on the construction and diverse appropriations of technologies. The panel aims to contribute to new feminist epistemologies for digital technologies.
99. Persistent Polluters and their Opponents 30 Years after Woburn
Organized by: Paul Jobin, Institute of Sociology (Taiwan); Pascal Marichalar, CNRS / Columbia University
Thirty years ago, a case of industrial pollution in the Boston suburb of Woburn paved the way for the analysis of popular epidemiology (Brown 1987, Callon et al. 2009). This case of a toxic tort class action was later the topic of a bestselling novel and a movie starring John Travolta (A Civil Action, 1999). In addition to popular epidemiology, the environmental justice movement that flourished in the US and other countries has been at the core of many STS studies on different forms of expertise and their influence in toxic torts, the regulation of hazards and the prevention of disasters (Fortun et al., Ottinger et al., in the forthcoming STS handbook). For instance, while Jasanoff (2003) has argued that the US court system performs the redistributive functions of a welfare state, though at a higher cost, for Cranor (2011), the environment is “legally poisoned” by millions of chemical hazards. In other contexts, ambitious policies (like REACH in Europe) or class actions (like RCA in Taiwan) have been impeded by persistently polluting firms spending millions in the “production of ignorance” (Proctor et al 2008) or “undoing science” (Frickel et al. 2010, Hess 2016), providing their experts for court testimony, lobbying national authorities or pressuring UN conferences on climate and biodiversity, etc. This open panel aims to confront recent case studies of (sensitive) mobilizations against such (insensitive) persistent polluters, either through legal class actions or illegal protests, locally-grounded epidemiology or sophisticated combinations of (STS) scholars and environmental NGOs counter-lobbying international organizations.