Linguists first used the term backchannel to refer to the spontaneous responses and signals that provide interactivity to what is only apparently a one-way communication. Social media users have adopted the term to refer to the unofficial, multi-directional online conversation that parallels formal academic exchange at a lecture or conference. The Backchannels blog is intended to have a similar relationship to scholarly discourse in STS. It provides an outlet for alternative-format scholarly communications, publishing shorter, timelier, media-rich communiques of interest to the global STS community. The editors welcome proposed contributions.



Technofixes and Place: Environmental Building in Montana

Jun 24 2024

In this post, Annika Hirmke explores the tensions between the abstract techno-visions of environmental design projects in Montana within the contexts of settler colonialism and structural challenges of climate change.

Contextual Nuances of Knowledge Translation in Ghana

Jul 1 2024

In this reflection based on her fieldwork in Ghana, Joyce Koranteng-Acquah shows how farmers engage with scientific institutions to produce knowledge and technologies, addressing the complex dynamics between scientific research, community engagement and policy development.

Re:Constructs | Exchanges between STS and Sociology

Jun 11 2024

Organisers report back from a recent workshop that invited scholars to explore the conceptual exchanges between STS and sociology.

Dependencies out of place: the medieval horror of our times is but the shrapnels of the peripheral modernity

Jun 3 2024

In this text, Giuliana Faccioli critically revisits the supposed return of feudal relations in platform capitalism through a reading of “North by South” applied to political economy. Rather than venturing into the genealogy of the term, she argues we should look into its more recent historical origins and outcomes.

Environmental Injustice Pedagogies: Brokering Epistemic Trust in Cross-Institutional & Inter-Disciplinary Projects

May 27 2024

In this reflection on the development of interdisciplinary environmental justice units for California high schoolers, authors Prerna Srigyan, Margaret Tebbe, and Nadine Tanio reflexively analyze the politics of knowledge in translational research involving STS scholars and STEM educators.

Citizen Starling: political and ornithological imaginations of an invasive bird

May 13 2024

Natalie’s current book project is a critical history of the “invasive” European starling in the US. In this piece, she describes how one twentieth-century ornithologist characterizes the bird as communist, and how this narrative bolstered ornithology and later invasion biology.

Categories as Prisons: or How Not to Write the History of the Scientific Revolution, Part II

May 6 2024

In the second of a two-part Backchannels post, Amanda Domingues and Rogelio Scott-Insua interview Professor Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. They continue the conversation on narratives within the history of science that apply categories originally conceptualized in Europe and North America to understand events that transpired across the globe.

Follow the Photographs: Networks in and beyond the medical archive

Apr 28 2024

Michaela Clark explores the UCT DoS Collection of clinical photographs, produced at South Africa’s first medical school. She submits that its photographic contents testify to connections between historical actors and institutions. Following the collection outside the settler-colonial medical archive offers insight into how clinical photography crossed scientific and lay terrains, and continues to bridge local and global space and time.

“Laughable Science”: The Irish Government’s Response to the Crumbling Homes of Donegal

Apr 22 2024

In this reflection based on fieldwork in Donegal, Ireland, Kaitlyn Rabach shows how a defective concrete disaster is changing the ways homeowners and activists demand governmental policies be driven by expertise and evidence-backed science.

Spiders, Sex, and Slippages

Mar 25 2024

Jumping spider "song and dance" can serve as a generative entry point for staging broader disruptions in the misogyny and cisheterosexism that have long underwritten scientific studies of animal behavior.

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