A collection of STS news items, in the order submitted, including grants and awards, new books and other publications, and people news.
Last updated 07/23/2014 by Jay Burlingham.
Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize
Deadline: August 01 2014
Updated: July 23 2014
Envirotech, a special interest group within the Society for the History of Technology and the American Society for Environmental History, invites nominations for the 2014 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize. The Tarr Prize recognizes the best article published in either a journal or article collection on the relationship between technology and the environment in history. The prize committee is particularly interested in publications that show how studying the intersections of environment and technology can lead to new insights into historical topics. Articles originally published in any language are welcome, but applicants must provide a translation of non-English articles. To be eligible for the 2014 prize, the article must be published between November 1, 2012, and June 15, 2014.
The Tarr Prize carries a cash award of $350 and will be conferred at the Society for the History of Technology conference in Dearborn, Michigan, October 7-11, 2014.
Race Decoded wins ASA Cox Book Award
Updated: July 16 2014
Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice (Stanford University Press, 2012) by Catherine Bliss has won the 2014 American Sociological Association Oliver Cromwell Cox Award.
Go to http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=20299 to order your copy of Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice
See its latest review in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6099.toc
Conf Report: Mapping Science and Technology in Africa: Travelling technologies and global dis\orders
Updated: July 14 2014
Mapping Science and Technology in Africa: Travelling technologies and global dis\orders
Date: 12-15 February 2014
Location: Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research (WISER), Johannesburg, South Africa
Richard Rottenburg (University of Halle, LOST)
Keith Breckenridge (University of the Witwatersrand, WISER)
The conference “Mapping Science and Technology in Africa: Travelling technologies and global dis\orders” was held from 12-15 February 2014 at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg, South Africa. It had two main objectives: 1) It’s goal was to stimulate academic discussions about African perspectives on global science and technology and its global entanglements. It specifically sought to contribute to theoretical debates on the role of circulating technologies and different types of knowledge practices in contemporary political, economic and societal processes of ordering in African countries. 2) The other main objective was to initiate a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship devoted to the study of science and technology, the so-called Network on Science and Technology Studies in Africa (STS-Africa network). More than fifty invited scholars and guests, mainly from African but also European and American universities and research institutes, attended the conference.
The conference programme was designed to fulfil both goals, enabling intellectual exchange on contemporary developments in the study of science and technology in Africa and the advancement of a network for scholars and institutions working in the field. It consisted of a keynote address, eight thematic sessions, wherein Ph.D. and senior researchers presented 25 papers based on recent empirical research, a public round table discussion, two plenary meetings and a strategic discussion on the forms of institutional and intellectual commitment needed to strengthen the nascent Network on Science and Technology Studies in Africa. Participants engaged lively in the debates and endorsed the importance of the networking initiative.
The conference started from the assumption that analyses of the African present and futures have to account for the translation of inherited, local knowledge and technologies across the continent and beyond. Many contributions also outlined the converse, how the science-driven project of modernity in Africa relocates local knowledges and societies in more encompassing and complex global interrelations. Technology was understood as a broad analytical category including material devices, but also as forms of organisation and governance, procedures of standardisation, and technologies of the self. Our assertion was that since melioristic enterprises predominately rely on technology transfers, following the translation and creative adaptation of technologies from elsewhere offers a fitting starting point for analysis. This approach on travelling technologies encouraged participants to examine recent adjustments of transferred epistemic, normative and material elements from one context to another and types of effects that the institutionalisation of imported technologies produces in political, economic and legal orders. This perspective allowed exploring the contingent outcomes of meliorism, how the local and the global are negotiated in these endeavours and how people in African settings adapt to new insecurities and risks that science and technology co-produce.
II. Intellectual Outputs
An important point of departure for the conference was a demanding debate, which – informed by postcolonial and feminist studies – challenges the centrality of Euro-American techno-science in STS. Much of the most influential STS scholarship was devoted to the epicentres of western science, marginalising Africa (and other parts of the world too). The conference stressed the interconnections, contacts and exchanges with Africa as crucial to the development of modern knowledge, technologies, modes of production or regimes of governance, and, conversely, it also highlighted how African techno-scientific products are implicated in global trajectories and forms of life.
The keynote and round table discussion formulated a number of key issues and propositions on what it means to do Science and Technology Studies in and on Africa and why this is significant. One such proposition was that an African vantage point is important as it allows unique insights into the workings of global science and technology. The conference opened with Richard Rottenburg's keynote address on “Travelling Technologies, Institutions, Critique.” The keynote ventured from the observation that techno-economic networks (TEN) (i.e. networks of technology, science, organisation, law and economy) continue to drive the most relevant developments for human life around the globe. While often globally connected through calibrated standards, measurements and other equivalences, TEN have different local institutionalisations, relating to disparate webs of institutions and beliefs, infrastructures and organisational networks. Following travelling technologies, their translation from one scale to another, one site to the next, place to place and from time-space to time-space enables investigating these institutionalisations, because when technologies travel they do so without their institutional contexts, which thereby are made visible. Rottenburg's suggestion was that techno-economic networks can neither be condemned as iron cages that exert a uni-directional domination of African life worlds, nor should they be idolised as modernising forces, which emancipate humanity. Drawing inspiration from pragmatic sociology of critique, which has reconfigured the understanding of institutions by conceiving them as semantic devices built on a dialectic of confirmation and critique, the talk rather pointed another way out, namely the old and intricate work to contribute to emancipation through critique without secure foundations and means of predicting outcomes. This raised pungent questions about possibilities of emancipation and critique in African contexts and more generally the shape of scholarly critique in a setting, where more productive answers are needed than mere critical deconstruction.
The senior scholars on the round table likewise immersed themselves in a critical and reflexive conversation about the importance of Science and Technology Studies (STS) as a scholarly field for the African continent. Accordingly, STS offers important theoretical and methodological tools to capture the role of scientific knowledge production and technology on African politics, economics and legal orders. For example, it was argued that addressing science means formulating questions about truth/untruth and thus fundamentally about the authorisation of knowledges. Or that a focus on the notion of onto-epistemological politics, the politics of bringing categories, which structure reality, into and out off existence, is a relevant tool to study the global entanglements of African knowledge production. Many comments highlighted that this more reflexive approach to the status of knowledges is particularly vital to generate a type of “theory from the South,” which could lead to new forms of democratic participation in Africa, while contesting some types of expert knowledge.
Aside from these two highlights of the conference, which set a theoretically ambitious tone for the entire conference, the programme was organised into eight main conceptual sessions: S1 Experiments, S2 Travelling Technologies, S3 Inscriptions, S4 Interventions, S5 Biosocialities, 6S Knowledge Production, S7 Science Power and Law, S8 Science and Policies. The empirical papers were based on original research in Africa and they ignited many lively conversations in the eight different panels. In the following we concentrate on the most crucial topics and summarise the main points of discussion in the panels and the final plenary meeting.
Panels S1 Experiments, S4 Interventions and S5 Biosocialities in particular highlighted the long history of Africa as a sort of laboratory for scientific knowledge production. Since colonial times many African countries were involved in a series of consecutive experiments in modern government, health management and technology-driven economic development. Some papers linked to contemporary debates about experimentality in Africa. A prominent argument is that politically and legally defining a state of emergency signals a moral urgency to act and to intervene (hunger, AIDS, war, etc.) in spite of lacking assurance about grounds and possible outcomes, which results in testing, trying, experimenting to find a solution. Manjari Mahajan, for example, focussed on a large-scale social experiment in South African: the so-called treatment-as-prevention programme as a solution to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The introduction of a new antiretroviral drug displaced moral and organisational concerns of HIV/AIDS transmission, reducing them to technical troubles of drug efficacy and supply. Another example was Luisa Reis De Castro’s discussion of a publicly controversial experiment, namely the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the fight against dengue, and compared experimentality in Brazil and different African countries. The discussion highlighted that the optimism about technologies – even when they come as solutions to serious health problems, such as the GM mosquitoes or HIV-treatment-as-prevention – is not necessarily shared by affected people (“beneficiaries”). Rather the unpredictable impacts of travelling technologies also raise a whole new set of ambivalences and moral questions.
Papers in panels S2 Travelling Technologies, S3 Inscriptions and S6 Knowledge Production underlined that science and technology do not only play an important role in these transformations, but also shape the ways in which they are analytically captured. Various papers analysed the increasing use of performance measures and neoliberal techniques of management across various domains from developmental interventions, governmental service provision to scientific performances itself and the types of realities these new measurements produce. For instance, Norman Schräpel scrutinised the performance-based financing of health services in Rwanda in the frame of the implementation of the Millenium Development Goals and outlined how numbers and other data about patients function as scientific evidence in support of new technologies of impartial, rational government.
Papers in panel S7 Science, Law and Power and S8 Science and Policies drew out new intersections between development, capitalist enterprises, African governments and science, which tend to crystallise around issues of global concern, like climate change, HIV/AIDS or womens' rights. At these intersections new strategic visions are inscribed into development paradigms, global standards and protocols are moulded, and new cooperative models take their shape, such as public private partnerships or multi-stakeholder co-operations to pursue specific joint goals. Addressing new forms of governance in the Global South, Kevin Donovan presented an intriguing case of Kenyian grass roots and nonetheless transnational techno-politics around the construction of an infrastructure for cash transfers for the poor. Discussion centred on the implications of such new configurations for African self-determination and it pointed out that there is a need for studies to examine how regulations emerge from novel intersections of business, science, government and development cooperation.
A hotly debated issue were the forms, origins, dynamics and outcomes of ongoing societal, economic and political reconfigurations of postcolonial and globalised Africa and the role that inherited knowledges and technologies play and should play in this. Overall, participating scholars noticed a rise of African self-reliance and a heightened awareness for African actors, ideas and choices in the project of modernisation at all levels. Drawing on a wide range of historical, sociological, anthropological, economical, geographical, religious, and artistic accounts of science and technology in Africa – while always recognising their deep implication in global techno-scientific and economic networks – may give rise to new forms of critique of contemporary political agendas and may be more attuned to everyday actors' voices and concerns for a better future. Others opined that historical processes in many African countries have brought about a situation where reformist critique and resulting conflicts are already widespread and the main problem is not finding new forms of critique but rather helping to stabilise legal, economic and political orders. They were referring to the experience of colonisation, the fragility of formal institutions, the vulnerability of populations towards environmental and other insecurities, marginal positions in global processes of politico-economic ordering, a dependence upon foreign aid to assume basic governmental responsibilities, and an experimental mode of governance.
The most controversial topic was how Africa tends to epitomise “the south” and is presented as the counterpoint to the north. It was pointed out that the criteria of debates on how to tell “norths” from “souths” are often not explicitly elaborated in STS, although these terms are gaining currency. The discussions asked how we can talk about differences without essentialising distinctions between Africa and other world regions, without brushing aside historical, societal, linguistic and environmental diversity on the African continent. To understand what Africa and African means in shifting global processes of ordering, other important contributions to the discussion emphasised the need to work out both similarities and differences (e.g. colonial history, linguistic, resources, cultural, geographical, etc.) that mark the heterogeneous African continent. The proposition was that more stringent conceptualisations of these differences are needed to give space to test and rework existing theoretical approaches in the field of STS and beyond. But overall, while the discussion pointed to the need for better critical understandings of the production of techno-science in global networks and on their differential impacts on African sites, scholars stressed the value of academic dispute in the field of STS and endorsed a pluralism of concepts without setting narrow confines for the STS-Africa network (i.e. either a focus on African knowledges or a certain theoretical paradigm).
III. Organisational Outputs
The conference was not only an intellectual success, but also achieved its goal in initiating a network among scholars working on Science and Technology in Africa. The starting point for this initiative was the observation that the impact of Science and Technology Studies (STS) as an academic field in Africa is rather limited both in research and teaching– with few exceptions in South Africa. Moreover, until recently no professional association or network of people was successful in stimulating discussions or research in this direction. The organisers felt that such lacks were particularly disturbing since STS approaches, apart from their academic merits, perhaps have a more direct practical and critical impact on development in Africa.
This networking initiative was by no means the first attempt to advance Science and Technology Studies in Africa and genealogies of previous efforts were debated. Some participants were doubtful about the broad variety of perspectives on science and technology as presented during the conference and viewed the heterogeneity of disciplinary backgrounds, objects of study, expectations, and interests as challenge for the platform on STS in Africa. A suggestion most welcomed was to more clearly and narrowly define the topics and issues at stake in future STS workshops. Participants agreed that future workshops should address topics more closely related to political and practical concerns troubling African countries. Overall, however, most were committed to the idea of the STS-Africa network and optimistic about its prospects bridge disciplinary divides and to instigate a serious forum for intellectual exchange in the future.
The value and implicit goals of forming an African network were interrogated, given their doubtful implicit premise that many different countries of the continent face the same challenges. After establishing a need for a STS-Africa network as a common ground among conference participants, discussion focussed on how to stabilise the initiative, and how to relate it to more formalised STS networks and professional organisations. There was a long and broad debate on the way forward, specifically on the organisational form of the network should take. A representative from Brazil discussed the relative success of the Latin American STS network (ESOCITE), detailing the structure of the organisation and the frequency of meetings. Participants from Brazil highlighted the insights to be gained from comparing African-based scholarship to that emerging from Latin America.
Consensus was achieved that intellectual activities will be organised as a decentralised, pan-African endeavour (thus we call this network) that convenes bi-annual meetings to bring together the scholarly community engaged in STS in Africa. The suggestion was made that the next meeting should be held in a francophone country in 2016. Professor Aimé Segla's proposition to host the upcoming event at the Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Benin was welcomed enthusiastically. The meeting also recommended that the event in 2018 should be staged in a lusophone country, possibly in Maputo, Mozambique. Concomitant to the de-centred academic activities, the STS-Africa network will be further institutionalised through a process of formal affiliation of universities and research institutes on the African continent and international institutions with a strong research interests in Africa (http://sts-africa.org/institutional-members).
Overall, the conference's format fully achieved the main two objectives outlined above: it prompted an intense intellectual exchange among scholars from different countries, engaging with STS in Africa, and outlined cutting-edge theoretical debates; and it managed to enrol a lively participation and commitment to form a network on STS Africa. Although we had hoped for a even more regionally diverse African delegation, the conference still was highly successful in assembling talented young and high-profile senior scholars from different African and non-African countries. The gender balance among participants also was excellent.
New book from Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska: The Proactionary Imperative (Palgrave, 2014)
Updated: July 14 2014
Steve Fuller has just published the third volume of his trilogy on 'Humanity 2.0', which attempts to define humanity in terms that go beyond the biological species, Homo sapiens. The book focuses on the 'proactionary principle' introduced a decade ago as an antidote to the 'precautionary principle'. Whereas precautionaries believe that we are on the brink of environmental catastrophe because we're too willing to take risks, proactionaries believe that humans stand apart from the rest of nature by our capacity for successful risk taking. In terms of current environmental problems, therefore, solutions lie not in turning our backs on our love affair with technology but by intensifying it – through finding new energy sources or even looking at the possibility of inhabiting other worlds. Fuller and his co-author, the lawyer Veronika Lipinska, argue that, politically, both those on the right and the left contribute to different sides of the precautionary-proactionary debate. They contend that this distinction, between caution and action, will come to dominate the political landscape and create new political divisions. Drawing on perspectives from both theology and biology, Fuller and Lipinska endorse the proactionary position, which supports individuals taking risks – for example with new health treatments, as they try to expand their life chances. They accept that such a risk-taking culture may result in set-backs and failures, but argue that this simply requires a new conception of the welfare state. The results may be an incredibly diverse society that will challenge our notions of tolerance, creating a world where 'traditional' humans live side by side with those who have artificial organs or have received substantial genetic modification. Humans have yet to treat all 'normal' members of Homo sapiens with proper respect and dignity and the proactionary principle opens up new challenges to our conceptions of equality. The book ends with a Manifesto that draws together the arguments to present a challenging vision for the future.
IEEE History Center Moves to Stevens Institute of Technology
Updated: June 13 2014
After 24 years, the IEEE History Center has relocated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA to the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA, which will become the new strategic partner for IEEE in the history area.
The mission of the IEEE History Center is to preserve, research and promote the history of electrical, electronic and informational sciences and technologies. The Center maintains many resources for the historian of science or technology, for the educator, and for anyone interested in the development of electrical and computer sciences and engineering and their role in modern society. The Center is sponsored by IEEE, the world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within Stevens, the IEEE History Center will be affiliated with the College of Arts and Letters (CAL), the academic unit dedicated to teaching and research at the intersection of science, technology, the humanities, and the arts. CAL maintains a strong focus on the history of science and technology and on science and technology studies.
The move will enable two organizations at the intersection of history and technoscience to take advantage of synergies and increases strategic opportunities.
New Book by Sal Restivo et al.: Worlds of ScienceCraft
Updated: April 03 2014
Worlds of ScienceCraft: New Horizons in Sociology, Philosophy, and Science Studies, by Sal Restivo, Sabrina Weiss, and Alexander Stingl (Ashgate, 2014). June 2014 publication date.
Available for pre-ordering on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Sciencecraft-Horizons-Sociology-Philosophy/dp/1409445275/
First issue of Journal of Responsible Innovation: Read for free
Updated: March 11 2014
Read the first issue of Journal of Responsible Innovation for free: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tjri20
The first issue includes the following articles:
Editorial: Responsible innovation: motivations for a new journal
David H. Guston, Erik Fisher, Armin Grunwald, Richard Owen, Tsjalling Swierstra & Simone van der Burg
Governance of new product development and perceptions of responsible innovation in the financial sector: insights from an ethnographic case study
Keren Asante, Richard Owen & Glenn Williamson
Mapping ‘social responsibility’ in science
Cecilie Glerup & Maja Horst
Knowledge kills action – why principles should play a limited role in policy making
J. Britt Holbrook & Adam Briggle
Where are the politics in responsible innovation? European governance, technology assessments, and beyond
Michiel van Oudheusden
Discussion Paper: Responsible innovation, the art and craft of anticipation
Discussion Paper: Responses
On the hermeneutic need for future anticipation
Simone van der Burg
On not Forgetting Futures
From foresight to hindsight: the promise of history in responsible innovation
The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's commitment to a framework for responsible innovation
Responsible innovation as an endorsement of public values: the need for interdisciplinary research
B. Taebi, A. Correljé, E. Cuppen, M. Dignum & U. Pesch
Notes From the S.NET Conference
Special Eurobarometer 401: survey summary on responsible research and innovation, science and technology
Refining expertise: how responsible engineers subvert environmental justice challenges
Ethics on the laboratory floor
Julio R. Tuma
Fixed: the science/fiction of human enhancement
Stevienna de Saille
The Journal of Responsible Innovation (JRI) provides a forum for discussions of ethical, social and governance issues that arise in a society that places great emphasis on innovation. It also offers an opportunity to articulate, strengthen and critique perspectives about the role of responsibility in the research and development process. For more information and Instructions for Authors, please visit http://www.tandfonline.com/tjri.
New Book: Clinical Labor: Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy
Updated: February 15 2014
Melinda Cooper and Catherine Waldby
Clinical Labor: Tissue donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy. (Duke University Press 2014)
http://www.dukeupress.edu/Clinical-Labor (Enter the coupon code E14CLABR during checkout for a 30% discount.)
This book explores the proliferation of various forms of embodied, transactional work associated with the lower echelons of the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. It argues that activities such as surrogacy, tissue donation and clinical trials should be understood as a specific kind of post-Fordist service work, continuous with but also distinct from the various forms of embodied service labor that proliferate in today’s postindustrial economies. Clinical labor is critical to the innovation strategies of the increasingly lucrative knowledge and service industries associated with pharmaceutical R&D and transnational surrogacy. Yet it is rarely if ever analyzed qua labor. Instead, it is considered as the exclusive purview of bioethical discourse, whose normative categories too often neglect the critical role of clinical labor within the political economy of the life sciences. This book provides a detailed account of the contemporary transnational geographies of clinical labor, mapping the contractual economies that link Indian and East European surrogates or egg donors with intending parents in North America and Western Europe, and the far-flung distribution of outsourced pharmaceutical research that recruits
human research subjects in New Jersey, Ahmedabad and Shanghai for the worldwide registration of new prescription drugs. It also situates clinical labor within a longer historical perspective, showing how human subject research and reproductive labor emerged out of the confined institutional spaces of the Fordist household, prison and clinic of the mid-twentieth century to take on the more distributed, outsourced forms of independent contract work that dominate today.
The first chapter is available on Scribd:http://www.scribd.com/doc/197850019/Clinical-Labor-by-Melinda-Cooper-and-Catherine-Waldby
Lakatos Award in Philosophy of Science, London School of Economics
Updated: January 11 2013
The Lakatos Award is given annually for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, widely interpreted, in the form of a book published in English during the previous six years. The Award is in memory of Imre Lakatos and has been endowed by the Latsis Foundation. It is administered by the following committee: the Director of the London School of Economics (Chairman), Professor John Worrall (Convenor), and Professors Hans Albert, Nancy Cartwright, Adolf Grünbaum, Philip Kitcher, Alan Musgrave, and Michael Redhead. The Committee makes the Award on the advice of an independent and anonymous panel of selectors. The value of the Award is £10,000.
To take up an Award a successful candidate must visit the LSE and deliver a public lecture (naturally all relevant expenses are covered by the LSE). The Award, which may be shared if there are deemed to be two candidates of equal merit, has so far been won by Bas Van Fraassen and Hartry Field (1986), Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher (1987), Michael Redhead (1988), John Earman (1989), Elliott Sober (1991), Peter Achinstein and Alexander Rosenberg (1993), Michael Dummett (1994), Lawrence Sklar (1995), Abner Shimony (1996), Jeffrey Bub and Deborah Mayo (1998), Brian Skyrms (1999), Judea Pearl (2001), Penelope Maddy (2002), Patrick Suppes (2003), Kim Sterelny (2004), James Woodward (2005), Harvey Brown and Hasok Chang (2006), Richard Healey (2008), Samir Okasha (2009), Peter Godfrey-Smith (2010), and Wolfgang Spohn (2012). No awards were made in 2007 and 2011.
For details of the nomination process, see http://www2.lse.ac.uk/philosophy/LakatosAward/lakatosawarddetails.aspx
4S Seeks Editors for 4th Handbook of Science and Technology Studies
Updated: November 17 2010
The Society for Social Studies of Science Publications Committee invites proposals for the fourth edition of The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. The Handbook consists of state-of-the-art review articles, along with occasionally more specific articles, that cover the current range of research in science and technology studies. The 3rd edition was published in 2008. At this point we are looking for a team of four editors who will enlist authors to write the full range of articles.
New Program in Science, Technology, and International Development at U of Edinburgh
Updated: January 08 2010
Arthur L. Norberg Travel Fund
Deadline: January 15 2010
Updated: January 02 2010
The Arthur L. Norberg Travel Fund provides short-term grants-in-aid to help scholars with travel expenses to use archival collections at the Charles Babbage Institute. Each year we plan to award two $750 grants.
Applicants should send a 2-page CV as well as a 500-word project description that describes the overall research project, identifies the importance of specific CBI collections, and discusses the projected outcome (journal article, book chapter, museum exhibit, etc.). Applicants are strongly encouraged to examine the extensive on-line finding guides to CBI’s 200-plus archival collections at http://www.cbi.umn.edu/collections/archmss.html. Applicants should estimate how many days they plan to use CBI collections during their visit (travel should generally be in the calendar year of the award). To be eligible, scholars will reside outside the Twin Cities metropolitan region.
Further Information: http://www.cbi.umn.edu/collections/archmss.html