All posts by Richard Tutton

The unbearable lightness of billionaires in space

During the Summer of 2021, on our multitude of screens, we were invited to pay witness to billionaires flying to or near the arbitrary Karman line, to watch both their personal pleasures and to be persuaded by the feasibility and desirability of a new elite experience called ‘space tourism’. With their safe return, much was then written in op-eds, blogs, and tweets about those flights and their contested significance. One aspect that drew my attention was how, for Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, the sensations of weightlessness loomed large in the accounts they gave of their experiences. While the poetry addresses the transfigurative potential of the ‘overview effect’, video from within the cabins show that spinning around, laughing, floating, pushing objects to each other appeared to be the real highlight of the trip for those who went. After his flight, Branson tweeted: ‘So joyful I still felt weightless’, and Bezos opined in the post-launch event that being in that state of weightlessness ‘felt so normal, it felt as if humans had evolved to be in that environment [ …] it felt peaceful, serene, very pleasurable’ (see: https://www.blueorigin.com/news/first-human-flight-updates).  

I’m confident that it’s an awesome feeling. As the editorial in the Chicago Tribune (2021) commented: ‘who does not crave the chance to float around like the great astronauts of our childhood dreams, Earth’s gravitational pull falling away with our quotidian worries?’ In this paper I wish to explore this claim seriously and to consider how the fantasy and desire to experience weightlessness comes to signify another kind of weightlessness as a strategy to escape the urgencies and pull of today’s world. 

For STS, weightlessness is an interesting topic. In the early days of developing human spaceflight capabilities, weightlessness was the source of some consternation and was not necessarily an experience to be craved. One leader in the field of what became known as space medicine – Heinz Haber who worked for the Luftwaffe Institute for Aviation Medicine in World War II and was later taken to the US through Operation Paperclip – drew attention to what he called the ‘human factor’ of spaceflight. Writing in 1951 he ventured that: 

From his conquered home-planet man has begun to look expectantly toward new worlds in the heavens. The Moon and the neighbouring planets, Venus and Mars, irresistibly challenge his fancy with the same spell that the seven seas once cast over their explorers. Like the pioneers who first ventured to sea in sailing ships, we are preparing to launch our first frail craft in the vast ocean of space. (Haber 1951: x) 

However, he argued that the success of space exploration lay not only with rocket design but also with managing the effects of spaceflight on the human body (and, in particular, on the male body assumed to be the only viable astronaut body at the time). In particular, the field of space medicine was engaged in efforts to better understand what would be involved in weightlessness. Haber speculated that ‘a man liberated from the shackles of gravity would most probably be in a constant state of physiological and psychological tension (1951: 18). As alluded to above, during World War II, Haber and other scientists, including Otto Gauer (another beneficiary of Operation Paperclip) had speculated on the possible effects of weightlessness. They had a paper included in the US Air Force’s compendium of aeromedical research conducted in Germany during the war, in which they expressed the concern that weightlessness could have dire consequences for the person experiencing it, rendering them with ‘an absolute incapacity to act’ (Gauer and Haber 1949). In the 1950s, to develop more of an understanding, US scientists turned to using non-human animals, strapping them into the nose cones of sounding rockets and blasting them up into the atmosphere, where eventually some survived their landing and were assessed, showing no ill-effects of being weightless (Swenson et al 1989). 

As the quote from Haber’s 1950 paper shows, the concern with the effects of weightlessness on the human body was bound up with the colonial ambitions that he and others envisaged for humans in outer space. As many scholars working within historical and social studies of outer space have shown, advocates of spaceflight often frame this endeavour in such colonial terms and view ‘the space frontier as a site of renewal, a place where we can resolve the domestic and global battles that have paralyzed our progress on Earth” (Kilgore 2003: 1-2). For Cosmists in the early twentieth century, for example, it was linked to how humans would overcome death and attain immortality by escaping gravity, travelling through space and establishing life in the cosmos (Groys, 2018). Weightlessness would be a desirable state of being, signifying the escape from Earth and death. 

In our times, the pursuit of weightlessness by very wealthy men is troubling, because these momentary, experiential states of weightlessness are connected to other practices and strategies of ‘social weightlessness’ – to adopt the term that feminist scholar Lois McNay (2014) discusses in her work. The title of this paper is a riff on one of the chapters in her 2014 book The Misguided Search for the Political (‘The unbearable lightness of theory’, which is in turn of course a play on Milan Kundera’s novel). Drawing on the writings of Pierre Bourdieu, McNay (2014: 40) uses ‘social weightlessness’ to describe a mode of thought that is ‘far removed from the practical mundanities and urgencies of the world’. She relates how Bourdieu shows that elites act to establish a ‘“magical boundary” between themselves and the mundane world. This apartness from the everyday world is both a liberatory break and a potentially crippling separation’ (McNay 2014: 41).

For McNay (2014: 39), her concern with ‘social weightlessness’ is directed at certain academic theories and their tendency to ‘rarefaction’. But in this paper I read the flights of these billionaires and the space tourism they prefigure as an expression of another mode of ‘social weightlessness’. Flying high into the atmosphere, reaching or exceeding the Karman Line to escape gravity becomes then a ‘magical boundary’, which indeed achieves a ‘liberatory break’ for those privileged to experience it. It is a few minutes in which a fantasy of freedom can be celebrated, freed as the Chicago Tribune suggests, of our ‘quotidian worries’. But in fact, rather than this being an experience a great many ordinary people will experience, access to space tourism – to the weightlessness of space – is one to be enjoyed by those who already enjoy a good degree of ‘social weightlessness’. Aside from a few  lottery winners, few will experience what is otherwise closed to anyone who is not a millionaire. 

Yet this pursuit of weightlessness both seeks justification from and is fatally entangled with the urgencies of the world. Bezos proposes that development of new space vehicles is a step towards ensuring that ​​’our children can build the future’. He believes with apparent passion and conviction that human expansion in the solar system will produce a better future for humanity. While acknowledging that there are immediate social problems that need addressing – pollution, homelessness, poverty – Bezos prefers to think long term. Faced with the prospect that capitalist economies will eventually be unable to meet their energy demands, Bezos proposes that to avoid a society characterized by ‘stasis and rationing’. We must pursue one of dynamism and growth that comes from expanding into the solar system, where there are unlimited resources. These resources would support a human civilization of a ‘trillion humans [..] which means we’d have a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins. This would be an incredible civilization’, Bezos concludes.   

Outer space then is Bezos’ imagined new ‘Great Frontier’ (Moore 2021) for capitalism.  Moore (2021: 3) argues that ‘capitalism emerged through a prodigiously generative nexus of Cheap Labor, imperial power, and the unpaid work/energy of previously uncapitalized soils, forests, streams, and all manner of indigenous flora and fauna’. In Bezos’ vision, the ‘uncapitalized’ entities are moons, asteroids, and planets in the cosmos. And science fiction has long imagined who would be the ‘Cheap Labour’ (see for example, The Expanse, a series financed and shown by Amazon Prime!).  

In the here and now, however, the entire existence of Blue Origin – Bezos’ aerospace company – is dependent on Amazon and its multi-billion dollar profit margins. Bezos explicitly acknowledged this relationship in the post-launch press event, going so far as to extend his thanks ‘to every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this’ (see: https://www.blueorigin.com/news/first-human-flight-updates).  

After Branson’s flight, Virgin ran an ad to celebrate both his achievement and to promote its various businesses in travel, finance and media (see: https://www.virgin.com/about-virgin/latest/if-we-can-do-this-imagine-what-else-we-can-do). The ad asked ‘if we can do this… imagine what you can do’, ‘if we can feel this .. imagine what you can feel free’, with scenes of ordinary people living with their ‘practical mundanities and urgencies’ (McNay 2014: 40) striving to overcome adversity, to escape the weight of their worlds. The promise is that they too can attain a state of weightlessness. The privileged experience of a select few inspiring everyone else to throw off their shackles. 

In this short paper, I have explored weightlessness, as a valorized embodied experience of space tourism that is also an expression of another kind of weightlessness – a ‘social weightlessness’ pursued by the extremely wealthy to escape the attraction of mundane realities and pressing social problems. Further, it is a cruel promise directed at those struggling with adversity that a simple escape is possible, as exemplified by the pleasures of billionaires as they fly to the edge of space. 

 

 

 

References

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board (2021) ‘We don’t begrudge billionaires chasing the zero gravity of space. But can they spell ‘murraya’?’, Chicago Tribune, 12 July 2021. Available at: https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/editorials/ct-editorial-richard-branson-space-zaila-avant-garde-20210712-x3pkhlwle5gxdnihcwrj6m74aq-story.html

Gauer, O and H. Haber (1949), ‘Man under Gravity-Free Conditions,’ in German Aviation Medicine, World War II, I, 641-643.

Groys, B. (ed.) (2018) Russian Cosmism, Cambridge MA: MIT Press 

Haber, H. (1951) ‘The human body in space’, Scientific American, 184 (1): 16-19
https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4201/ch2-3.htm#source10

Kilgore, De Witt D. (2003) Astrofuturism: Science, Race, and Visions of Utopia in Space, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

McNay, L. (2014) The Misguided Search for the Political, Cambridge: Polity 

Moore, J. (2021) Climate, Class & the Great Frontier From Primitive Accumulation to the Great Implosion,  unpublished paper, World-Ecology Research Group, Binghamton University. Available at: https://jasonwmoore.com/academicpapers/

Swenson, L.; J. Grinwood and C. Alexander (1989) ‘This new ocean: a history of Project Mercury’, NASA History Division. Available at: https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4201/ch2-3.htm

Outer Space in the Museum Shop

You’ve seen the rockets. Marvelled at the moon rock, lit up like in the nave of a church. Ogled the astronaut suits. Wondered at the taste of the food in those silvery packages. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything along the way – a loved toy that had to make the trip too – and start heading out via the shop. Just a look, just a look perhaps. Pick up and twirl around one or two of the items. Don’t forget to by something branded so people know. Or something fun to continue learning at home. Or a postcard of your favourite thing so that you can stick it up on the wall and remember it until the blu-tak fails and it falls down the back of the sofa. 

 

Exit and Gift Shop

Scholarship about science museums and science centres focuses on gallery and exhibition content, databases, social media and websites, and hands-on science centres meaning there is engagement with the content that is housed in these spaces and what is shown to publics. By contrast, relatively little has been written about commercialisation in science museums, particularly their shops: what they sell, and if and how these materials are connected with informal science learning. Where there are case studies in the museum shop literature, they are dominated by shops in arts and socio-cultural museums. But science museum shop is likewise a site of constructing knowledge and demonstrating cultural power, and it too should be interrogated. Attending to the shop can help theorise who the museum is trying to reach and in what ways. Furthermore, the selection and sale of particular items at museum shops as take-home continuations of the museum experience can be a context in which to address tropes that are embedded and reinforced in cultural narratives about science. 

While museums are framed as having their roots in Enlightenment knowledge impulses to collect and catalogue the world in European Wunderkammer museum shops find their origin in the twentieth-century rise of western consumerism. From the 1940s, museums in the USA started selling mementos related to their collections. Kovach (2014) argues that over the course of the 1900s, US museum shops shifted from being small stalls that sold postcards to become elaborate collaborative design collections, offering items unique to the museum. Unsurprisingly, prestigious art and design museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art had the greatest success with such collections. Rising consumption patterns and declining national funding pots for museums have dove-tailed to see the rise of what Booth and Powell (2016, p.131) describe as the “future of the museum as a ‘cultural shop’, implying a growing organisational orientation towards income generation.” The objects for sale are aimed at consumers in the hope that they will purchase something that has been stocked specifically to entice them. The visitors who attend science museum shops are understood not within the context of in the galleries, but as capitalist subjects (ie. consumers of knowledge and products, not participants in culture and the sharing of knowledge). This delineation is messy, however. Kent’s (2009) research on the UK’s Imperial War Museum shop shows how visitors themselves frame purchases from the shop as a supplement to the education from the museum and a way of carrying it with them back into their day-to-day lives. 

The boundaries of purpose are blurred on ethics of reproduction too. During their podcast Cursed Objects (2022); hosts Tee, Hancox and Procter have given critical attention to how the choices of what is being sold in museums have included capitalising on mental health crisis (an “Earaser” at a van Gogh exhibition), genocide (selling red diaries at the Anne Frank Museum), colonial theft and plundering (Tipu’s Tiger Christmas gift at the Victoria and Albert Museum or Egyptian mummy pencil cases), with questions about whether it is right to make money from such content.  These objects trivialise and commercialise events and conditions that should be treated responsibly by institutions such as museums that ostensibly are teaching visitors how to understand the world around. 

How do shops know what to stock? Rationalised within a corporate version of the museum, visitors are segmented based on their ‘types of intent’ for visiting the museum, which might include interest in cultural participation, ‘out-of-school’ learning for the family, school trips,  dates, and going for a coffee. Many museums collect their own data on their visitors to inform this segmentation. This understanding of the visitor draws on the theorists Falk and Dirking (e.g. 2016), who argued that the visit to the museum is motivated by a visitor’s ‘personal context’ (interests, attitudes, needs, beliefs), their ‘sociocultural context’ (including customs, values, language all shared within subgroups of a larger society), and their ‘physical context’ (architecture, location, ambiance). Critics argue this encourages institutions to focus on those who already attend museums, and to shape the experience around them. Using this approach favours the most privileged groups in society (particularly those privileged through their racialisation, education, wealth, ability, and class) who actively participate in science museum visits, allowing their cultural biases and norms to continue to dominate what is available at museums. This in turn perpetuates structurally unequal access to these spaces, and shapes the stories they tell. 

Purchasing an item from the shop at a science museum will make that object part of the visitor’s everyday science learning, both at the time of purchase and after the museum visit. These items, then, are part of what Emily Dawson’s (2019) characterises as everyday science learning, the broadest definition of experiences between science and publics. In this instance, the item comes home from the museum with the visitor, bringing science learning into a different sphere of a visitors’ life, and arguably allowing the item to influence secondary communities, such as family members and larger school groups. Science (and by extension, everyday science learning) never happen in a vacuum, but instead reflect and magnify broader social and political issues in the society in which the museum sits. 

 

This way to Gift Shop and Boutique

I am going to think through the delivery of some of these everyday science narratives related to outer space, using specific examples from museums around the world. Outer space represents a particularly salient case study, given that it is highly popular among visitors and is widely merchandised both in and outside of museums. One thing that can be found across museum shops is a focus on NASA and the American flag. One NASA postcard, t-shirt, or baseball cap looks much like another, so I won’t fill this article with them, but know they are out there by the bucket load in London, in New York, in Stockholm. Instead, as an exemplar of this category, the London Design Museum’s Moving to Mars exhibition shop, that gave patrons the opportunity to buy a Christmas tree bauble of an astronaut planting a US flag. In the context of sitting directly outside an exhibition that discussed a move to the Mars as being ‘for all humankind’, a reification of a white, American cis-man as being the representation of who ‘humankind’ is limits any broadening of this idea that has taken place elsewhere in the exhibition.

Elsewhere, I have demonstrated that displays of space in museums in Western Europe and Canada frequently align themselves with the US space programme (see Armstrong 2020). NASA’s branding spills over into popular culture far more significantly than that of any other space agency – onto catwalk clothes, pop-culture-trendy bags, riffs in movies, and music videos. This popularity of NASA, which is a branch of the US government, continues the circulation of the popular justifications behind the US space programme through culture. Invocations of ‘manifest destiny’ – the divine right of the USA to lead in outer space as it did in the colonising the American West, by violently displacing Indigenous peoples for resource extraction and wealth amalgamation – is thus propagated in popular culture. This capitalist practice and selling of Americana nationalism around the world teaches those participating in everyday science learning to relate to and think about science as a practice that is dominated by US-centric, and capitalist, narratives. 

The second theme to draw attention to is the construction of gender within science practices. In many contexts this is the selling of ‘pink’ versions of items (space suits, NASA caps, socks etc) that are the same as the ‘blue’ ones (or other neutral colours: white, orange, black) – a pinkification of girls’ participation. Pinkification constructs items for girls as ‘other’: for instance a ball can be any colour, but a pink ball is a girls’ ball.  Sometimes, this pinkification goes further than simply being the same items in pink. At the Space Center Houston pink jackets are sold that are specifically about ‘women’s’ roles in of the space and aviation history (e.g. the Women Airforce Service Pilots) whereas blue jackets show projects that involved people of multiple genders (e.g. the badges of the space shuttle programme). Elsewhere in the shop gendered narratives about how children or adults should participate in science are constructed. Pink t-shirts read “Girls rule the galaxy”; “How do you get a baby astronaut to sleep? You rocket”; or “I love you to the moon and back”. Reinforcing tropes of Girl-Bosses, needing girls as being subdued and passive, or preparing girls for care work and reproductive labour, the messages of these objects build gendered expectations for girls that discourage them from equal participation in science. This contrasts to the blue shirts that have detailed rocket-plans reproduced on them, images of rockets going to space or slogans such as “It’s not rocket science. Oh wait, yes it is”. Museums also sell “girlie” versions of hegemonically ‘masculine’ toys such as the ‘Women of Space’ lego set; or science versions of “girlie” toys, such as Astronaut Barbie (or generic similar looking dolls) with lunar dig sets and space helmets. 

These items reinforce a gendering of science space. Where considerable effort and critical scholarship has tackled pluralising gendered representation in science museum exhibitions, museum databases, and science museums’ advertising aimed at young people, this is often not seen in the very same institutions’ own shops. This makes the contrast between what is available for purchase at science museums and the aims of progressive science research particularly stark. 

 

Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on your way out! 

The examples I’ve provided in this brief text are not exhaustive. They show how nationalist narratives dominate over and above the transnational collaborative practice that takes place in the research of space science. These objects construct and communicate binarised gender-specific roles for people in space science. This separation of ‘pink’ clothing items with descriptions characterises the young people wearing them as having a different relationship to space than being properly part of the scientific work. Such discrepancies point to a disconnect between the practices of space science and the ways that it is being circulated in traditional everyday science learning spaces and beyond. This disconnect is not unique to space science, and can be seen elsewhere in the commercialisation of science learning. This should push us as theorists in the social studies of science to examine why this occurs, which narratives are being perpetuated in these practices, and how this micro-commercialisation is perhaps linked to the larger scale privatisation of space (for a longer discussion of this please see Armstrong & Bimm, forthcoming).  

Some museums do make special efforts to reject this gendering. The shop at the Science Museum in London has moved away from pink and blue items – a step which is particularly visible in their whole floor dedicated to space merchandising. This distinct choice to only sell ‘neutral’ colours (orange/white), I was told in informal conversation, was specifically motivated by queer inclusion in science education. This is not only helpful for bringing the shop in line with other efforts across the museum, but is also an inclusive practice that rejects binarized gendering and pluralises the possible (scientific) futures that are available for owners of such items. To my knowledge, the pluralisation of space agencies is not common, but more research would explore this further. As museum workers, pushing for change internally, alongside building interdepartmental bridges to share experiences, will be key to seeing change in stocking practices. 

So as a visitor, or a researcher, what can be done? Certainly drawing attention to these practices is important. The grassroots campaign Let clothes be clothes1 tackled a 2014 collaboration between UK retailer Marks and Spencer and the Natural History Museum that produced a dinosaur-oriented clothing range exclusively marketed at boys. A 5,000 strong petition and support from UK members of parliament has resulted in both organisations now producing a unisex line of science themed clothes. Participating in such actions are possible, and Let clothes be clothes have template letters for giving retailers feedback that could be adapted to tackle gendered, racialised or ableist science museum shop items. Researchers thinking of everyday science learning could consider the impacts of commercialisation on science narratives. Already, scholarship in the field pays attention to the cost of participating in science museum learning (e.g. travel, entry, and time-off-work costs) and who this includes or excludes (see Dawson 2019), so further consideration of how commercialisation shapes access is worth attention – especially as the brands and museums that have been the focus of this text are but a small set of all museum shops that sell science-related items. 

 

Exit through the gift shop

 

 

1 See  https://www.letclothesbeclothes.co.uk/

 

 

References

Booth E., & Powell R. 2016. Museums: From Cabinets of Curiosity to Cultural Shopping Experiences. In: Katsoni V., Stratigea A. (eds) Tourism and Culture in the Age of Innovation. Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-27528-4_9.

Cursed Objects (2022) Van Gogh “Earaser” – ft. Alice Procter. [Podcast]. 3 March. Available from: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3yEpZ2R51uANGSXzbTsds9?si=41dc4a2ee11a4d33&nd=1 [accessed 21 March]

Dawson, E., 2019. Equity, exclusion and everyday science learning: the experiences of minoritised groups. Routledge.

Falk, J.H. & Dierking, L.D. 2012, The Museum Experience Revisited, Taylor & Francis Group, Walnut Creek. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [21 February 2022].

Kent, T. 2009. The role of the museum shop in extending the visitor experience
Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing. https://doi.org/10.1002/nvsm.368.

Kovach, D. S. 2014. Developing the Museum Experience: Retailing in American Museums 1945–91, Museum History Journal, 7(1), pp.103-121, DOI: 10.1179/1936981613Z.00000000024.

Celebrating our former EASST president Prof. Ulrike Felt

Unfortunately, the last EASST council meeting organised and chaired by Ulrike Felt which was supposed to take place in Vienna last December, took place online instead due to the reinstatement of travel measures. To make sure to not just let this moment go by unnoticed, we want to mark the occasion by some words of thanks. We asked some witnesses for reflections on the important work Uli did for EASST as an association, both as its president and during earlier years including the organisation of the EASST meeting in Vienna. We hope you will join us in thanking her in person during the EASST meeting in Madrid.  

 

Message from the EASST Council: 

The EASST Council would like to thank prof. Ulrike Felt for having acted as President from 2017 to 2021. Thanks to her proactive thrust, organizational skills and contagious enthusiasm, Ulrike has shepherded the Council and the broader Association towards a new degree of professionalization. We will remember the warm welcomes at Council meetings where she never run off cakes or (when online) amusing jokes. While her Presidency has coincided with a difficult moment for EASST, the academic community and global health, she has managed to make the voice of the EASST community been heard amidst the pandemic turmoil. 

Thanks and good luck with your next adventures, Uli!

Screenshot from Uli’s last council meeting online

 

Message from Ignacio Farías, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
(former EASST council member and former editor of the EASST Review):

When Uli enters into a room, there is no way you can’t notice. There she comes, full of energy, ideas, positions, visions, jokes, and no matter how comfortable or tired or cozy or bored you were, doing whatever it was you were doing, you react, get activated, start to think with, along, otherwise – it doesn’t matter how exactly, what matters is the energizing momentum, the activation.

If this is what happens when she enters into a room, then imagine what happens when she takes over the direction of something: a journal, a department, a professional association like EASST. Things change and gain momentum. I’ve been lucky enough to be in such rooms with her and see things unfolding with my very own eyes.

During her tenure as a president of EASST, Uli put an incredible amount energy and enthusiasm in advancing the professionalization of our beloved EASST, but always finding the balance to maintain it as the infrastructure of intellectual friendship that it is. Squaring that circle has been a major accomplishment. As a former editor of the EASST Review, I’d like to thank her for all the support and trust, especially when it came to ensuring the necessary funding for the Review and opening up spaces for imagining its future.

On the funny side, perhaps EASST members should know that there was a time during her presidency, when Uli would regularly write emails to EASST council members urgently asking for money. You can imagine what happened. Yes, someone hacked the email account of the EASST presidency and, of course, how could it be different, it took ages to make it work again.

Dear Uli, I am looking forward to meeting and thanking you for all these years, when we all meet in Madrid, and I am especially curious to hear about your plans for continuing supporting the institutionalization of STS in Europe and abroad.

 

Message from Sally Wyatt, University of Maastricht (former EASST President): 

Night train to Vienna

I first met Ulrike during the EASST-4S conference in Vienna in 2000. I don’t remember the exact moment, but I do remember that meeting Ulrike contributed to my general feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the numbers of people, variety of panels and presentations. It was the first time I attended a joint meeting of the associations, and it may well have been my first trip to Vienna. 

I found the university itself overwhelming, and I couldn’t navigate the space. So I picked a meeting room that was near the entrance, toilets and coffee, and waited to be educated, informed and sometimes entertained by a variety of STS colleagues on a huge range of topics. I still do this sometimes at a big conference. It’s not a bad strategy. I am rarely disappointed by what I hear, and certainly not more than I would be if I had deeply studied the programme.
Maybe I just looked very lost, but somewhere in that first day, I bumped into Ulrike. She must have been completely up to her eyes in mislaid registrations, disgruntled participants, double-booked rooms, coffee that arrived in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her energy was palpable, and she was completely unflappable. She made me feel as if the most important thing in the world to her at that moment was that I was having an interesting time, and that eventually I would dare to leave my comfortable meeting room near the entrance to find where my own presentation was to be held.
Since then, I have had the enormous honour and pleasure to work with Ulrike on a couple of research projects, teach in the STS group, take part in the Raach writing retreat, and contribute to the STS Handbook 4th Edition. Once we were both part of a EU Commission advisory group, and for me it was the first time. Again, Ulrike helped me to navigate that strange bureaucratic process. The breadth of Ulrike’s knowledge, her sense of humour, and her apparently limitless energy made her an excellent EASST president, including during a couple of difficult corona years.

 

Message from Alan Irwin, Copenhagen Business School:

’no hay camino, se hace camino al andar’ (Antonio Machado)
‘there is no path, the path is made by walking’

I won’t pretend that Spanish poetry is my area of expertise. But I do like this quotation. And it’s a rather good characterization of Uli Felt. Whether as EASST President, the head of a major European STS centre, producing influential European reports or organising the famous Vienna 4S/EASST conference, Uli keeps walking and she keeps making new paths. 

At times, the STS community has asked whether we really need a European space for our activities. Aren’t we all global these days? For me, Uli is the positive embodiment of a European intellectual spirit: alert to our differences as well as similarities; working to make European institutions open to our contributions; recognizing that there are strands of European culture and European history which can caution, challenge, provoke and inspire us. 

With Uli also comes conviviality and a sense of mischief – plus the irrepressible urge to laugh out loud. I have learnt that it can be disruptive, even dangerous, to sit next to her in the conference room. Of course, I do it anyway.

All this means that Uli was the perfect choice to serve as EASST President. And now we thank her for encouraging us to walk forward and for reminding us about what, despite everything, we have in common. Let Uli and EASST keep making that path.

 

Message from Rob Hagendijk, University of Amsterdam:

Uli’s EASST

I’ve known Uli since she invited me for a workshop on ‘public understanding of science’ she organized in Vienna. The workshop was exciting, Vienna was wonderful and Uli deeply impressed me with her unique and joyful combination of intellectual ambition, organizational abilities and – above all- her excellent sense of humor, sharp eye for people and her unmatched ability for infectious laughter. In the margin of the meeting I also started to grasp her taste for good food, nose for enjoyable wineries and biergartens, and also her love for chats about stuff to read, items to pursue and authors to follow. Somebody to stay in touch with and to meet more often. EASST became a defining element for that. Starting when we met again as members of the EASST council under Aant Elzinga’s leadership. 

Late 2021 she stepped down as EASST’s ninth president and after twenty-five years serving EASST. A remarkable accomplishment, as the society exists only forty years. Alongside her involvement in EASST, Uli also managed to establish her own department, served as a Dean in her university, was an advisor to the EU science policy process, editor of STHV and of the fourth edition of the 4S Handbook. She attended an endless number of meetings, preferably in attractive locations and associated possibilities to enjoy cultural and other interesting events. And, in between, she of course supported her steady growing flock of PhD students, helping her PhDs forward with the work to be done and more. The steady flow of reports and articles to be published continues to flow out of her computer.

EASST and 4S have amply profited from her ability to handle ‘fun’ and  ‘trouble’ of all sorts. A major proof of her mettle became the 4S/EASST Conference in Vienna in 2000. Uli was the chair of the local organizing and of the program committee. She had already started to raise funds, reserved hotel space and meeting rooms. And then, Austria tumbled into a deep political crisis. Jörg Haider’s  extreme right-wing party won the elections and became a defining element of the new government coalition. It reminded many of the Nazification of Austria in the 1930’s. Protests erupted and the Ring in front of the main university building became the venue where activists met and marched. International scientific societies, professional associations and others started to cancel meetings. Members of 4S and EASST questioned whether we should not do the same in support of the protests.  

Uli, politically savvy as always, was shocked and in splits over what to do.  She contacted us, that is Sheila Jasanoff, the acting president of 4S, and me as the EASST president, for consultation. Together we agreed on a plan. If consultation of the members of both societies would show sufficient backing Uli c.s. would press forward with a conference at which support for the progressive and democratic forces in Austria would be a major constitutive element. And so it happened. Uli’s presence, leadership, efforts, secure hands and cool mind were key in that. 

So, both societies owe her – and her family!- hugely. Unfortunately, thanking her in person  was not possible at the EASST/4S conference in Prague, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s hope we’ll have a chance to do that in Madrid, in Uli’s signature style.

 

Message from Martina Erlemann, Freie Universität Berlin:

I thought over the 4S/EASST in Vienna in 2000 where I have been involved in the organisation as a then doctoral student but cannot recall some details of the conference organisation. But one for me personally remarkable challenge of that conference which Uli fabulously mastered was how she navigated the upcoming conference against the background of the change of government in Austria. The political change with the right-wing populist party as coalition partner in the beginning 2000 apparently produced some worries within the STS community if Vienna would really be a suitable location for the upcoming 4S/EASST. Here Uli argued in the spirit of “now more than ever” that Vienna would be the right place for an STS conference, since it is precisely the approaches of STS that enable a critique and scrutiny of technoscientific worlds and their entanglements with politics. And finally the conference has been a huge success.

 

Message from Mike Michael, University of Exeter:

I can’t really write in detail about Uli’s many contributions to EASST other than to say that she has been central to the society’s development from strength to strength over the past several years. 

However, I can offer a more impressionistic account of her presence at conferences. At the EASST and EASST/4S conferences, she seems always to be in motion – a whirlwind of greetings, welcomes, encouragements, and slyly humourous asides. In my mind’s eye she is always surrounded by a group of people to whom she dispenses wisdom, inspiration, praise and critique. And all this is wrapped up with deep humanity, and a dose of scepticism to remind us of the challenges posed by our institutional and political worlds. In these respects, she shares her immense energy with the delegates, not least early career colleagues: at base, her presence adds immeasurably to the collegial and intellectual atmosphere of a conference. 

However, there is also a dark side: the fear she generates in the panel sessions. There she sits in the audience, silent and attentive, biding her time. At the end of the talk, her hand goes up – perhaps a little too quickly – and she asks the most outrageously pithy and pitiless question, needlessly laced with erudition and critical insight. It goes without saying that I’m not speaking from experience, and I’ve certainly not had to re-think an entire paper on the basis of her intervention that I never received. What so many of us witness in these terrible moments is Uli’s brilliance as a scholar, and her spectacular ability to cut to the core of a presentation and usefully – and with copious amounts of care, of course – reframe its matters of concern. For all these things (and many others), thank you Uli!

IN MEMORIAM – Trevor Pinch (1952-2021)

Trevor Pinch has been immensely important to the field of science and technology studies, and way beyond. Not just by his impressive range and quality of publications, but because Trevor was life itself. Such a creative mind and lucid writer, his emails were always sparkling with energy, full of humour and exclamation marks. Evenings with Trevor, at dinners in the margins of workshops and conferences, were cheerful as the colourful stories he had to tell. His scholarship was genuinely collaborative. It was about enthusiastically sharing ideas, books, music and links, and a seemingly endless stream of ideas he found inspiring. To us, Trevor embodied the ideal colleague. 

Trevor Pinch was distinguished Goldwin Smith Professor of Science & Technology Studies and Professor of Sociology at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. He has been especially known for his prominent roles in establishing the scholarly fields of social studies of technology and sound studies. But he did much more. He started his science studies career with Harry Collins in Bath, UK, with studies of parapsychology and neutrino detection (Collins and Pinch 1982, Pinch 1986).1 His anthropological study of market traders was sold in airport bookshops (Clark and Pinch 1995). And an even larger readership he reached with the book series The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science, Technology and Medicine, written together with Harry Collins (Collins and Pinch 1993 (1998), Collins and Pinch 1998, Collins and Pinch 2005). This 3-volume series has been translated into 12 other languages. And then he played a self-built analogue synthesizer in the Electric Golem band, which earned him yet another audience in clubs in Ithaca and New York and on Spotify. 

In 1981, Trevor attended the very first EASST conference in the Burg Deutschlandsberg, near Graz in Austria. He presented his work on the detection of solar neutrino’s, resulting from his PhD research in Bath. That PhD project was almost finished, and Trevor would soon be on the job market. Wiebe Bijker was at the same conference to present his first paper on “The Social Construction of Technology”. They met over dinner and in the bar, trying the local Schilcherfrizzante. At the end of this pink-champagne drinking, Trevor accepted a one-year postdoc position at Twente University, The Netherlands, where he started on January 4th, 1982. That collaboration between Trevor and Wiebe resulted in the paper “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts: or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other”, first presented in a Paris workshop in Autumn 1982, then at the annual 4S conference in 1983, and finally published in 1984 (Pinch and Bijker 1984). The acronym SCOT for the proposed new approach of a ‘social construction of technology’ was coined by David Edge, the Edinburgh-based editor of Social Studies of Science. 

The presentations of this paper and the ensuing discussions made Trevor and Wiebe realize that there was a dormant interest within the science studies community to start investigating technologies. Hence, they decided to organize a workshop in Twente in 1983, to which, following Donald MacKenzie’s suggestion, they also invited historians of technology such as Thomas Hughes, Ruth Schwartz Cowan and Ed Constant. This resulted in an edited volume that among American students came to be called ‘the school bus book’, because of its yellow-black cover (Bijker, Hughes, and Pinch 2012 [1987]). That book spurred MIT Press to invite Trevor and Wiebe to start the book series ‘Inside Technology’, now counting almost 90 titles. Only 4 weeks before his death, Trevor wrote his last emails as editor of this series.2

After his postdoc at Twente University, Trevor became lecturer in sociology at the University of York. His interest in economic questions was spurred by the collaboration on the Health and Efficiency book with Malcolm Ashmore and Michael Mulkay (Ashmore, Mulkay, and Pinch 1989). Later, in 2008, he followed this interest in developing an economic sociology cum STS perspective in his collaboration with Richard Svedberg (Pinch and Svedberg 2008). In 1990, Trevor moved to Cornell University, where he joined Sheila Jasanoff and helped to create the Department of Science and Technology Studies. Trevor became a full professor in 1994. He served as chair of that Department for eight years. Among his many contributions to STS in those and the following years was the widely cited volume How Users Matter: The Co-construction of Users and Technology, co-edited with Nelly Oudshoorn (Oudshoorn and Pinch 2003). 

Trevor’s pioneering role in sound studies resulted from his combined love for building a synthesizer, playing it and doing science and technology studies. His first presentations about music and technology focused on the early days of the synthesizer and culminated in the wonderfully written Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog synthesizer (Pinch and Trocco 2002). Some of his earlier interests, like that in markets, returned in his examination of the sales techniques—and the boundary shifting between the world of engineering and music involved—that Bob Moog used to pitch his synthesizers as musical instruments to wide audiences. Yet Trevor also showed how the synthesizer’s sound tuned in with the psychedelic technologies of light shows and drugs in the spirit of the 1960s. Analog Days became a Harvard UP bestseller. Yet what Trevor seemed to appreciate most in the success of the book was how it brought him new contacts in the music world that otherwise would probably not have been available to him. 

While finalizing Analog Days, Trevor began preparing the special issue “Sound Studies” for Social Studies of Science with Karin Bijsterveld, arguing that the dramatic socio-technical shifts in the production and consumption of music since the 1950s, and the emerging reflection on how machines, soundscapes and listening practices intersected, made sound and listening matter for STS (Bijsterveld and Pinch 2004). Ever since, sound definitely mattered to him, leading up to the publication of the Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies, again with Karin (Pinch and Bijsterveld 2012). It was very “Trevorish” that he was only prepared to accept the invitation for that Handbook if the book would be allowed to be more than just stocktaking. After all, Trevor always kept reading the newest ‘stuff.’ Instead of summarizing existing sound studies’ work, he aimed at making a volume that would show the newest directions in the field. To him, unsurprisingly perhaps, many of these new directions closely aligned with science and technology studies. 

Trevor Pinch was a prolific writer, authoring and editing 16 books and more than 80 scholarly articles, to which we can do no full justice here. He has been visiting professor to more than 10 universities, from Denmark to Korea and including Maastricht. He has also fulfilled all possible roles of intellectual leadership in the international scientific community. On top of doing his work for the MIT series, he acted as one of the co-editors of the first edition of the STS Handbook (Jasanoff et al. 1995), and served as 4S president (2012-2013).

He genuinely loved teaching. No matter how many prizes and distinctions he was awarded—such as that of honorary doctor at Maastricht University (2013) or the 4S John Desmond Bernal Prize for distinguished contributions to the social studies of science (2018)—he never turned into the type of senior that has ‘been there, done that.’ In 1992, Trevor returned from a conference in Germany and excitedly reported that someone had come up to him to inquire whether “this paper is from your PhD project? When will you be finished?” — for Trevor, no bigger compliment for his research than being compared with a young PhD student. He remained curious to hear which new topics students examined, which technologies they used, and which musical subcultures they co-constructed. In that sense, he kept surrounding himself with the social life that constituted science, technology and sound—and he kept teaching about this until well into the Fall of 2021. 

Trevor Pinch is survived by his longtime partner, Christine Leuenberger, senior lecturer in STS, and his daughters, Benika and Annika. 

 

 

 

1 For more details about Trevor’s work in Bath, see Collins (Collins 2022)

 2 For more details about the workshop, the first edited volume and the book series, see the introductions to the anniversary edition (Bijker, Hughes, and Pinch 2012 [1987]).

 

 

References

Ashmore, Malcolm, Michael Mulkay, and Trevor Pinch. 1989. Health and Efficiency. A Sociology of Health Economics. Milton Keynes/Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Bijker, Wiebe E., Thomas P. Hughes, and T. J. Pinch, eds. 2012 [1987]. The Social Construction of Technological Systems : New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Anniversary ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Bijsterveld, Karin, and Trevor Pinch. 2004. “Sound Studies: New Technologies and Music (special issue).”  Social  Studies of Science 34 (5):635-817.

Clark, Colin, and Trevor Pinch. 1995. The Hard Sell. The Language and Lessons of Street-wise Marketing. London: Harper Collins.

Collins, H.M., and T.J. Pinch. 1982. Frames of Meaning. The Social Construction of Extraordinary Science. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Collins, H.M., and T.J. Pinch. 1993 (1998). The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reprint, 2nd.

Collins, H.M., and T.J. Pinch. 2005. Dr. Golem : how to think about medicine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Collins, Harry. 2022. “In memoriam Trevor Pinch (1 January 1952–16 December 2021).”  Social Studies of Science 52 (1):144-146.

Collins, Harry, and Trevor Pinch. 1998. The golem at large: what you should know about technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jasanoff, Sheila, Gerald E. Markle, James C. Petersen, and Trevor Pinch, eds. 1995. Handbook of science and technology studies. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Oudshoorn, Nelly, and T. J. Pinch. 2003. How users matter: the co-construction of users and technologies, Inside technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Pinch, T. J., and Frank Trocco. 2002. Analog days : the invention and impact of the Moog synthesizer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Pinch, Trevor. 1986. Confronting Nature. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Pinch, Trevor, and Karin Bijsterveld, eds. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pinch, Trevor J., and Wiebe E. Bijker. 1984. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts: or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other.”  Social Studies of Science 14 (3):399-441.

Pinch, Trevor, and Richard Svedberg, eds. 2008. Living in a Material World. Economic Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Neutrinos, Jet Fuel, Endings and Beginnings

History does not move in a linear, unidirectional, or constant manner. If anything, it moves in fits and starts, suddenly rushing ahead, only to stop suddenly and meander about, or change direction altogether. The seemingly blinding pace of global crises and shocks that have characterized the past two decades have been a testament to that. As we seem to exit the era of COVID-19 and the unprecedented public health measures used to control it, we become preoccupied with concerns over the war in Ukraine and the renewed potential of nuclear war, alongside the existing climate crises, the fragility of the global economy, and threats to the cohesion of the European Union, which have hovered in the background throughout the public health crisis. This issue of the EASST Review reflects on science and technology in these current times, and the evolution of our field within it. 

Most importantly, we are deeply saddened by the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine and our hearts go out to all victims, and especially to our colleagues and friends in Ukraine and Russia, alongside the STS communities in these countries. We laud the efforts (especially on behalf of the Polish community and everyone else involved in Central and Eastern Europe) to welcome refugees from Ukraine, and we hope that such a welcoming stance is extended toward all other refugees. Europeans need no reminder of the cruelty and violence that results from limiting the scope of one’s sympathies. We all agree that STS is political, but it is not always clear what that means. We are especially grateful for the various academic initiatives to welcome refugees, and during the conference in Madrid and future editions of the Review, we invite an open dialogue about the responsibility our community has in the face of such tragedies, as also indicated by our President Maja Horst in the section News of the Council. This edition of the Review offers a start in STS Events, with Ivan Tchalakov’s account of the panel The war in Ukraine and European (dis) integration: possible axes of change, organised by his STS centre at the University of Plovdiv in Bulgaria on March 22. In addition, Translations is offering broader reflections on the concept of internationalisation, inviting us to rethink our engagement with a process that is significant, both in our analysis and our working environments.  

For this edition, we had already invited a number of contributions on the political dimensions of outer space research and exploration for STS Live. Richard Tutton’s piece reflects on the social weightlessness of billionaires’ private space flights and attends to the limits of escapism. Eleanor Armstrong explores the ways that science museum gift shops reinforce limited – and sometimes explicitly sexist and nationalist – understandings of who can conduct space research and exploration. Finally, the piece by Matjaz Vidmar and Saskia Vermeylen shows how science museums can offer alternative, more inclusive visions of space science. Things can always be otherwise, and this paper offers visions for such alternative futures.

This is in line with the upcoming EASST conference in Madrid, (increasingly) appropriately named “The Politics of Technoscientific Futures” which will offer a look into the future of STS, science, and technology. Vincenzo Pavone has written an update, highlighting the immense work of the local committee in organizing a conference in times of war and pandemic. The meeting is now open to register and will feature an impressive number of contributions and promising plenaries (see the last EASST Review and conference website for more information). 

As always there will be an event for early career researchers, this time organized by Rose Bieszczad (EASST Council), Andrea Núñez Casal, and James Besse, offering a space for a new generation of STS researchers to reflect upon what they see as the future of the field. It is our first in-person meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we look forward to meeting STS colleagues and friends, new and old. 

Unfortunately, our community lost another valued member and friend: Trevor Pinch sadly passed away at the end of last year. In addition to the many tributes to him, Wiebe Bijker and Karin Bijsterveld jointly wrote an obituary for our Review. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. STS, and all of us personally, owe a debt of gratitude to Trevor for his long career of research, teaching, and relentless advancement of our field in both Europe and the US. Among many other memories and things, countless much-loved copies of The Golem and the inclusion of sounds and synthesizers in STS are what Trevor leaves behind. 

In this issue we also take the opportunity to reflect on the important work of Ulrike Felt as EASST Council President, who handed over to our new president Maja Horst. This ceremony unfortunately took place online due to reinstated travel measures, but we want to make sure to mark the occasion. A heartfelt thanks to Uli, for all the important work you did for EASST and we look forward to thank you in person during the meeting in Madrid. As the Vienna STS department has already featured in STS Multiple, we thought it was fitting to highlight the development of STS Austria to provide a local context to Uli’s boundaryless work. 

We would also like to warmly congratulate Sheila Jasanoff for receiving the prestigious Holberg Prize 2022 granted by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research at the University of Bergen. This prize reflects her indispensable research and theoretical contributions to STS, contributions that have an immense impact in and beyond STS. Hilde Reinertsen, Tone Druglitrø and Ana Delgado write on this achievement in the STS Events section. 

Finally, as we already told you in the last edition, our editorial assistant Sabine Biedermann is now succeeded by James Besse. We want to take the opportunity to thank Sabine again for all of her contributions and we definitely missed her knowledge in putting these last issues together. You will be able to meet James in Madrid, but in the meantime a brief introduction to the new member of our team. He is a doctoral candidate in STS at the University of Edinburgh, working on identity and access management and its applications in the public sector. James’ research is engaged with ongoing political and legal discussions, especially related to Freedom of Movement. In addition to his PhD research and his involvement in EASST, James is currently working on building networks between STS research groups working on the study of information infrastructures. Together with Léa Stiefel (STS Laboratory, University of Lausanne), he recently organized a workshop bringing together more than 30 STS researchers from across Europe for a workshop in Lausanne, Switzerland, questioning the politics and governance of sociotechnical infrastructures. James is also involved in discussions of methodology in STS, especially mixed-methods research, alongside teaching computer programming and statistical methods to social scientists. As such, he is certainly the right candidate to help us develop the EASST Review as a shared publication infrastructure. And if you want to know more about the University of Edinburgh, you can explore the Curious Edinburgh project in Cherish not Perish. 

The next issue will be dedicated to summaries and impressions of the Madrid event, and we welcome everyone’s contribution via review@easst.net. 

In the meantime, take good care of yourself and each other, 

James, Niki, Sarah and Vincenzo (the editorial team)

News from EASST council

EASST Council held its fourth 2021 meeting in December where we discussed a number of issues and questions. Most importantly, we heard about the progress of the organization of the EASST conference to be held in Madrid. As our Conference Chair, Vincenzo Pavone, aptly put it, we are all ‘taking a leap of faith’ in planning for an in-person conference. We hope that it will be possible to come together and see each other in real life after this very long virtual existence. We discussed options of streaming plenaries and making recorded presentations possible, but for financial reasons we will not be able to make a fully hybrid conference. However, we will do our best to accommodate to whatever conditions we will meet in July. Since the Council meeting we have unfortunately learned that we have to postpone the dates one week due to a NATO Summit (they have basically taken our space at the IFEMA conference centre). We also have to admit that some conference fees will be more expensive than at previous conferences. Council has chosen to prioritize relatively cheap participation for concession members, but this means that regular fees become more expensive as the conference venue is not cheap (but the only viable option). Nevertheless, I am sure we will end with a great conference. I am already very grateful to the local organizing team for all the work they have put into this. 

We also discussed our journals, including a need to formalize and make transparent our governance system for the journals. We are very happy with the development of our two publications, the S&TS Journal and the EASST Review, but we are also aware that the entire publication landscape is undergoing dramatic changes. A first step will be to formalize governance structures and make them available for EASST members. Next year we will engage in a bigger discussion on how we want the European STS publication ecology to develop further. Finally, we spent some time agreeing on a new setup for admin support of EASST. We will change our contract with NomadIT so that they provide all the admin backup we need. 

Lastly, we said a heartfelt thank you to President Ulrike Felt, whose term is ending this year. Uli has done a tremendous job for EASST (besides being a central figure in STS in so many other ways) and we cannot thank her enough. We were all sad that we could not meet up in Vienna in person to congratulate her on a job well done. As the new president I will make certain to express our gratitude to Uli once again at the general members meeting at the July conference.

DYNAMIS Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam

www.revistadynamis.es

What was the need for this publication project? 

How has it changed throughout time?

The Dynamis journal was founded in 1981 at the University of Granada by five historians of medicine (Luis García Ballester, Teresa Ortiz-Gómez, Rosa María Moreno, Guillermo Olagüe and Esteban Rodríguez Ocaña). The first editorial note acknowledged the influence of Pedro Laín Entralgo, and justified the publication of the new journal by the growing interest in the history of science, in particular the history of medicine, in Spain. From the beginning, the aim of this academic enterprise was to broaden the understanding of the social aspects of medicine from a perspective that included the history of scientific, educational, and medical institutions. 

Today, Dynamis has an international and multidisciplinary Advisory Board and an Editorial Board whose members are distinguished historians of medicine and science based at different Spanish academic institutions. The professional rigour and intellectual acuity of the Editorial Board, together with the journal’s engagement in emergent research lines and topics, has enabled Dynamis to remain prominent both locally and internationally. The journal has also continued to enjoy contributions from both European and American experts in the history of science and medicine.

The journal benefits from extensive institutional support. It is co-edited by two Spanish universities with support from the Vice Rector’s Office for Scientific Policy and Research of the University of Granada and the Research Vice-Rectorship of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Moreover, Dynamis has received financial support from the University of Cantabria, and the Miguel Hernández University, as well as the HUM-773 research group on the History of Medicine of the University of Granada.

Dynamis has successfully fulfilled the generally recognized periodicity, uniformity and normalization criteria; it also fulfills the 33 parameters of Latindex quality system. In Spain, it is considered a journal with “good quality content and normalization, which occupies a high position amongst Spanish scientific journals.” Since 2016, Dynamis has been included in Thomson Reuters-ISI database, being the only Spanish journal currently indexed in the category History and Philosophy of Science (SSCI and SCIE). It can be found in the following Thomson Reuters products: Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index and Art and Humanities Citation Index. The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) has recently awarded Dynamis its quality stamp and an excellent evaluation. 

Dynamis has consolidated as an attractive vehicle form the scholars in the history of science and medicine. The criteria of the Spanish National Commission for the Evaluation of Research Activity (CENAI) and the National Agency for the Evaluation of Quality and Accreditation (ANECA), are essential for planning and progressing in the academic careers in Spain. One of such criteria is the publication of an article in an ISI-indexed journal before obtaining a doctoral degree, and this has made Dynamis even more attractive to scholars who work or wish to work in Spanish academic institutions. To this end, Dynamis has published high-quality contributions from doctoral candidates and early career scholars, offering an important venue for the dissemination of their work.

Dynamis publishes original, double peer-reviewed research studies (articles, notes or documents) and reviews in most of the languages of the European Union. This includes: Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Catalan. From 1981 to 2010, one single volume of about 500 pages was published every year. Since 2011, two issues are published a year, and each issue consists of about 250 pages. 

Although initially focused on the history of medicine in Spain, Dynamis has evolved as a truly multidisciplinary and international enterprise. The journal is open to contributions from other parts of the world, and the Editorial Board has recently expanded to included researchers from different institutions and universities in Spain and beyond. 

Dynamis is keen to consider proposals for special issues. Several monographic issues have appeared so far, dealing with a wide range of topics. These include the history of illness (vol. 11, 1991), the national factor in the evolution of science (vol. 12, 1992), systems of health in the work place and professions in a welfare state (vol. 13, 1993), public health in contemporary Spain (vol. 14, 1994), women, gender and health practices (vol. 19, 1999), improving public health in the interwar years in Europe (vol. 28, 2008), isotopes in 20th century technoscience (vol. 29, 2009), the circulation of antibiotics (vol. 31-2, 2011), controlling female cancer in South America (vol. 4-1, 2014), transnational science during the Cold War (vol. 35-2, 2015), the Pasteur Institutes in the Maghreb (vol. 36-2, 2016), health reforms in South European countries (vol. 39-1, 2019), managing giftedness in contemporary society (vol. 40-2, 2020), historical configuration of the hospital system in Spain (vol. 41-1, 2021), among many others. 

A comprehensive list of special issues can be found here: 

https://revistadynamis.es/en/home/

The Dynamis Editorial Board has received offers to be purchased or included in private editorial enterprises but has rejected these offers to retain academic independence of the journal. The technical side of the editing process falls mostly on the Editorial Board, which makes the cost of publishing two issues a year possible within the limited budget. Another challenge was the recent (2021) shift to Chicago Manual of Style as a referencing system. Since its beginnings Dynamis used footnote references but the new database environment made a change pressing. The decision about which reference system to use and implementing it was difficult as it required harmonising views of the interdisciplinary Editorial Board. The priority was choosing a style which would make cited works visible and easily recognisable for bibliometric purposes, but also allow for flexibility for referencing a wide range of primary sources. A previous challenge was linked with the the journal’s inclusion on Thomson Reuters databases (2006), especially the Journal of Citation Reports, after which the number of manuscripts submitted to Dynamis grew exponentially. The Editorial Board’s reaction was to increase the frequency of publication, from one to two issues and around twenty manuscripts a year. 

Another challenge was linked to the journal’s digitalisation process, which included all published volumes since 1981 and was completed between 2005 and 2008. All the volumes are now available through the Barcelona Autonomous University Repository (RACO), which is accessible through the journal’s website. Initially, Dynamis imposed a 6-month embargo, meaning that the journal version of the manuscript became could be freely used after half a year from publication had passed. The embargo rule was lifted in 2014, making the journal fully and immediately open access. Since 2010, Dynamis has also been included on the Scielo platform, which, together with RACO and the institutional repository of the University of Granada, strengthen the journal’s visibility.

From a publication policy standpoint, Dynamis pursues three ideals. First, it has been particularly concerned with gender equality and therefore makes sure to keep a balance in the team of leading editors, as well as in the Editorial Board and in the authorship of articles. There are mechanisms in place to ensure gender balance in the Boards and in the publication outcome.

Second, the journal seeks to promote truly multi- and cross-disciplinary research. The articles cover a range of topics, such as the history of ancient Hippocratic-Galenic medical practices, the humanitarian health of refugees after the Spanish Civil War, parapsychological theories and science exhibitions in the 19th Century, and the debates about abortion in the last decades of the 20th century. This wide array of topics makes the journal difficult to categorize or fit within any fixed label. While the core of the contributions come from professional historians, Dynamis regularly publishes contributions from sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers of science. Dynamis has also homed articles and special issues, such as the 2018 special issue on Contraception, sexuality and gender, which prioritized novel methodologies such as oral history of health.

Finally, the third aim of Dynamis is to promote multilingualism in the history of medicine and science. Instead of only publishing in English or Spanish, the journal is open to several languages. 

Have there been any difficulties in creating and sustaining this publication project?

All the articles published in Dynamis are freely and immediately accessible online in three spaces: the RACO database, SCIELO (2010), and the journal’s website. The journal pursues a green open access policy and does not charge any author fees. The journal’s institutional financial support covers the printing costs and the design of the front page. 

Offering support in the process of publication without any fees makes Dynamis a very attractive journal for both senior and junior scholars in and outside of the Hispanic world. Needless to say, finding experts willing to collaborate with the editorship is not always easy. 

Despite such problems, the journal has managed to maintain a high scholarly standard and its policy of true open access. The key challenge, linked to the previous point, is maintaining the journal as an independent and gold standard open access journal, which does not charge authors any processing, publication or open access fees.

What readership do you address?

The core readership are historians of medicine and health, although the journal appeals also to historians of science, general historians, and health professionals. Dynamis also attracts academic lecturers, who use the articles in their teaching preparation. The introductions to special issues play an important role in this process, and the open access availability ensures that articles are immediately accessible to anyone interested. 

What contributions are you looking for?

The journal publishes original articles, book reviews, essay reviews and relevant primary sources with commentary. The editors are interested in receiving articles based on original historical research dealing with any topic related to the history of science. Dynamis only publishes articles in which the authors engaged in a critical assessment of primary and secondary sources and are able to offer new insights. Furthermore, the journal publishes literature reviews offering a thorough and interesting overview and discussion of recent publications made in a specific area of research. A third category of publications is short book reviews, which are written upon invitation and previous agreement with an editor.

Arbor: A Journal on Thought, Science and Culture

https://arbor.revistas.csic.es/index.php/arbor/index

arbor@csic.es

Arbor is a journal on thought, science and culture from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council). Its name comes from the Arbor Scientiae, or tree of science, used by Ramón Llull to represent the various branches of knowledge.

Thought, science and culture, conceived at Arbor as hybrid and interconnected areas, are the three large fields that define its content. Thus, Arbor is a transdisciplinary journal that publishes original research and reviews that help to think about and understand the world in its complexity, in close connection with issues that drive current main controversies. 

Arbor publishes four quarterly issues per year (March, June, September, and December) in open access on the CSIC electronic journal platform. Three of them are Special issues which consist of a series of articles on a particular topic and a varia section in which reviews, and bibliographical notes are presented. The fourth will be a miscellanea. Since 2007, Arbor has been available online, and a print edition was published until 2013. That year Arbor became an electronic journal published in PDF, HTML and XML-JATS. Contents of previous issues are also available in PDF files.

This journal, founded in 1944 and still publishing today, is the Spanish cultural scientific journal with the longest history of uninterrupted publication. Through its long history, Arbor has different roles in the construction of scientific thought and culture in Spain. In its foundational stage (1944-1953), marked by the autarchic discourses of the post-Spanish Civil War period, the journal was more interested in the human sciences than in the experimental sciences. The intellectual trajectories of its editors, together with the then-strongly-established difference between the two cultures – the humanist and the scientific – influenced its editorial line. The second period (1953-1984) coincided with the end of Spain’s international isolation, meaning Spain was kept out of the UN and other international organizations until 1951, caused by Franco’s rapprochement with Hitler and Mussolini. During this period, the journal was stabilized as a project and began to publish a greater number of papers in the experimental sciences, in an attempt to exhibit institutional scientific production. In addition, the journal began to pay attention to hitherto unpublished topics, such as contemporary art, and to publish articles on economics. The third stage (1984-2011), which coincided with the consolidation of democracy in Spain, was a period of renewal for Arbor in which it sought, through multidisciplinary reflection, to make this journal a channel of communication between the scientific community and the rest of society. In 2013, the magazine began a new period by shifting to publishing solely online which has allowed its adaptation to the new forms and technologies of publishing.

Since July 2019, Arbor’s editorial line has been in a process of redefinition. The Journal’s format and target audience were revised, alongside the methods used to evaluate submissions and the language of publication. The journal’s new editorial board is interested in content that asks questions and shows the concerns of today’s society. Thus, the new structure of the journal seeks to establish dialogues between disciplines and to offer different views on the same topic.

In addition, novel features were introduced by this editorial team in order to respond to the new forms of hybrid and interconnected knowledge generation: the sections “Materials”, “Essay-Reviews”, and “Debate”. “Materials” publishes essays on knowledge produced in non-written formats that help to deepen the monographic theme: this is a place to think about audiovisual, sound, and graphic resources. Contributions in this section include links to such resources, taking advantage of the possibilities of the digital format. These possibilities are further considered in the “Essay- Reviews” section, where classic bibliographical reviews can share space with reflections on other objects like exhibitions, films and sound documents. Finally, the “Debate” section opens up a space for discussion around the main controversies raised by the subject matter of the monograph. This space serves to show, not only ways of working in the construction of knowledge but also the discussion as object and subject (actor-actant) that participate in them.

Nowadays, Arbor faces new challenges because the social, economic, and gender inequalities of the past twentieth century have been compounded by the climate crisis, problems in energy transition, and a major global pandemic. Thus, it is even more increasingly necessary to have spaces to learn, educate, and be informed about scientific and technical issues. Arbor aims to offer this space not only to the research community, but also to society in general. The possibilities of the digital format like the use of audio-visual materials and links to the journal knowledge, as well as the choice of current topics of general interest make Arbor closer to the public.

Arbor is indexed in Web of Science: Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI) and Current Contents – Arts & Humanities; SCOPUS, CWTS Leiden Ranking (Journal indicators) Core publication, ERIH Plus, REDIB, DOAJ and other national and international databases. It is indexed in Latindex Catalogue 2.0 and has obtained the FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology) Seal of Quality.

Journal Citation Indicator (JCI) 2020: 0.87

Rank by JCI: 121/390 (Q2, Humanities, Multidisciplinary) 

Source: Clarivate Analytics©, Journal Citation Reports®

 

EDITORIAL TEAM

 

Editor in Chief:

Dr. Ana Romero de Pablos, CSIC

 

Deputy Director:

Dr. Marta Velasco Martín, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, España

 

Assistant Secretary:

Dr. María José Albalá, CSIC

 

Assistant Editors:

Dr. Montserrat Cabré Pairet, Universidad de Cantabria, España

Dr. Santos Casado de Otaola, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, España 

Dr. Francisco José Ferrándiz Martín, CSIC

Dr. Cecilio Garriga Escribano, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, España 

Dr. Marta González García, Universidad de Oviedo, España

Dr. David Rodríguez Arias, Universidad de Granada, España 

Dr. Ana Rodríguez López, CSIC

Dr. Mª del Mar Rubio Varas, Universidad Pública de Navarra, España 

Dr. Marta Velasco Martín, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, España 

Dr. Remedios Zafra Alcaraz, CSIC

 

Editorial Board:

Dr. Francisco Álvarez, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, España 

Dr. Ana Barahona Echeverría, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Dr. Estrella de Diego Otero, Universidad Complutense de Madrid 

Dr. Pilar García Mouton, CSIC

Dr. Antonio Lafuente García, CSIC 

Dr. Josefa Masegosa Gallego, CSIC

 Dr. Eulalia Pérez Sedeño, CSIC

Dr. Antoni Roca Rosell, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, España 

Dr. Concha Roldán Panadero, CSIC

Dr. María Jesús Santesmases Navarro de Palencia, CSIC

Research Group: Health, History and Society [Salud, Historia y Sociedad (SALHISOC)]

The starting point of the SALHISOC research group was a regional research project on poliomyelitis, funded by the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha (Junta de la Comunidad de Castilla-La Mancha) and FEDER funds in 2008. The group’s aim was to contribute to the analysis of the relationship between Science, Technology and Society by studying health problems which have been relevant to Spain, in general, and to the Comunidad de Castilla-La Mancha, in particular. The group also intended to stablish connections between the academy and the clinic and aspired to be a training space for researchers interested on the topic. Although unofficially starting in 2008, the official constitution was delayed until 2013, when we became one of the research groups of the University of Castilla-La Mancha in health sciences as well as part of the Regional Centre of Biomedical Researches (CRIB). Four scholars from this University – three from the Faculty of Medicine of Ciudad Real and one from the Faculty of Physiotherapy and Nursery of Toledo – together with two external Professors from the Universities of Valencia and Alicante became affiliated with the group. 

Research conducted by the group is devoted to our two main research lines:

The social history of diseases, particularly the history of influenza, rabies, measles, rubella and mumps as well as the history of neurological and disabled diseases, such as smallpox, poliomyelitis and leprosy. We study the social construction of diseases, the responses and the establishment of means to fight against them, and the articulation of ways of social reintegration. We pay particular attention to the role of Medicine, governments, society, association of affected people, non-governmental organisations and international agencies. We also analyse experiences of affected people.

The history of public health and of the politics of social protection. We study the collective responses offered by societies to health problems throughout history, and the configuration of the public health and politics of social protection, paying particular attention to the role of international agencies. Such international agencies include the Rockefeller Foundation, the Committee of Hygiene of the League of Nations, the World Health Organization, the European Association against the Poliomyelitis, and the Red Cross. In particular, we study the participation of these agencies in the establishment of international cooperation and in making this cooperation an indispensable part of national strategies set up to fight important health problems.

Since 2008, we have had access to several funded national and regional research projects. This has permitted the development of our research and our group, now composed of five scholars from the Faculty of Medicine of Ciudad Real -Marta Velasco Martín, Lourdes Mariño, María-Victoria Caballero, Pedro Luis Romera and María-Isabel Porras- and one from the Faculty of Physiotherapy and Nursery of Toledo -Noelia-María Martín-Espinosa-. The funding has also enabled the realization and presentation of four PhD theses, and the establishment of important national and international scientific relationships and collaborations with historians of science, general historians, historical demographers, and sociologists.

We have collaborated with Spanish researchers from different universities (including the University Miguel Hernández, the University of Salamanca and the University of Granada) through our participation in nationally coordinated research projects funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation from 2013 to 2019. American and Latin-American scientific relationships have been extremely important for our group. We collaborate with researchers from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru and Argentina. Working with them gives us other perspectives and information about similar research problems but focused on different places, and the possibility of putting together our knowledge and experience for improving researches. This has entailed the publication of books, dossiers of scientific journals, research exchanges and the organization of scientific sessions for the Latin American Association of Population (ALAP) and the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH) Congress. We are now participating in an Argentinian research project focused on the social construction of the confidence in the vaccines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We have established scientific relationships with European professors and researchers from the University of Geneva, alongside many other Portuguese, French, German and Dutch universities. Some of these collaborators are part of our two current research projects. This includes Baptiste Baylac-Paouly from the University of Lyon 1, and Maria Teresa Brancaccio and Eddy Houwaart from the University of Maastricht. These three researchers, who are working on the case of the poliomyelitis, offer us the possibility of doing a comparative analysis of this health problem in four different European countries. Working with María-José Báguena, we have recently published a paper on “The Rise and Fall of State Vaccine Institutions in Spain (1871-1986) in an edited collection (Stuart Blume & Baptiste Baylac-Paouly (eds.), Immunization and States. The Politics of Making Vaccines, London & New York, Routledge, 2021). Working with the Portuguese Antero Ferreira, we have published in 2021 an introductory study to the reedition of the publication of the Portuguese pharmacist Manuel Jose de Passos, Aviso ao povo para nao morrer de bexigas Lima (1873). The book has been published in Portuguese and in Spanish.

The primary academic background of the majority of SALHISOC members is biology and health sciences. Many also hold qualifications in the history and philosophy of science. All staff members have to teach and do research. Two of us also have clinical tasks at the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Service of the General university Hospital of Ciudad Real and teach these subjects at the Faculty of Medicine of Ciudad Real (University of Castilla-La Mancha). At the same faculty, three of us teach ‘History of Medicine and Documentation’, ‘Basis of the Medical Research’, ‘Care Communication and Bioethics’, and ‘Epidemiology and Public Health in the 21st Century’. The other staff member teaches at the Faculty of Physiotherapy and Nursery of Toledo.

We have recently lost one senior and valuable researcher, María-José Báguena-Cervellera, from the University of Valencia and the Institute ‘López Piñero’, who died on 13th March 2021. For four decades, she has studied the introduction of the animate contagion theory in Spain, through the works of French and German bacteriological schools as well as the historical evolution of several infectious diseases (tuberculosis, cholera, rabies, smallpox, poliomyelitis, rubella and measles). We appreciate very much her capacity for altruistic collaboration, her accuracy, generosity and discretion, as well as the way she facilitated working together and us becoming, not only colleagues, but friends. All the current staff members of SALHISOC want to express our recognition and gratitude for her great work and contributions to the group.

 

Main funded research projects and results

Our scientific activity focuses on a range of topics related to the history of science and medicine. One major topic of interest is the history of the poliomyelitis, and the fight against viral diseases in Spain. We pay special attention to the international context, the relationships established with the World Health Organization and other international agencies, alongside the role of socioeconomical factors, laboratory and epidemiological research.

Three research projects have focused on this topic:

– The antipoliomyelitis health care in Spain in the 20th Century (the cases of Madrid, Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha): medical, social and political factors. Funded by the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha (Junta de la Comunidad de Castilla-La Mancha) and FEDER funds. [Duration: 01/04/2009 to 31/03/2012]. The fundamental aim of the Project was the reconstruction of the fight against the poliomyelitis, one of the main causes of people with disabilities during the last century, in Madrid, Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha throughout the 20th century.

– The eradication of polio and other viral diseases in the international context: the role of the laboratory, epidemiological research, and socioeconomic factors. Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Competitivity/ FEDER. [Duration: 01/01/2013 to 30/06/2016]. In this Project we analysed the role played by the laboratory and epidemiological research and the socioeconomical factors in the eradication of the poliomyelitis in Spain. We also studied the transference of scientific knowledge from other viral diseases and the international sphere to the poliomyelitis research.

– The fight against viral diseases in Spain through its relations with the WHO (1949-1986). Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Competitivity/ FEDER. (MINECO/FEDER). [Duration: 01/01/2016 to 30/09/2019]. The Project studied the collaboratives Programmes of the WHO with Spain and the Spanish participation in international activities related to the fight against viral diseases (rabies, smallpox, poliomyelitis, influenza, rubella, measles and mumps) between 1948 and 1986. We contribute to the history of international health and the reconstruction of the Spanish scientific and health politics after the Spanish Civil War. 

Our current scientific activity deals with two new topics: 1) the standardisation of the production and application of serums and vaccines in Spain, and 2) the impacts of international scientific research visits. These new topics, which are very related to our previous research projects, contribute to show the transformation produced in the fight against infectious diseases in Spain, France, the Netherlands and Italy during the 20th Century.

‘The Standardization and Application of Serums and Vaccines in Spain and Castilla-La Mancha and the Role of International Agencies (1918-2016)’. From 01/09/2018 until 31/12/2022. Funded by the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha (Junta de la Comunidad de Castilla-La Mancha) and FEDER. The Project studies the process of standardization of the research, production and distribution of anti-diphtheria, triple bacterial vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) and triple viral vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella). It also analyses the procedure for the administration of these vaccines in Spain and Castilla-La Mancha and the role played by international agencies (the Health Office of the League of Nations and the WHO), not only from the technocratic aspect of these bodies, but also from individual epistemic communities. The research is completely connected to our main activities devoted to improve our knowledge about the role played by international agencies in the responses against diseases and in the development of the public health. 

Grant Programmes for Research Visits and the Role of Public and Private Laboratories in the Fight against Infectious Diseases in Europe (1907-1985). Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities/ Spanish Agency of Research (AEI) and FEDER founds. [Duration: 01/06/2020 to 31/05/2024]. From a transnational perspective, the project analyses the role played by grant and aid programmes for research visits of scientists (in the main European research centres) in making international cooperation an indispensable part of national strategies set up to fight important health problems, such as infectious diseases in Spain, France, the Netherlands and Italy. Results from the project will contribute to improve the knowledge of our group on the social history of diseases and the history of public health, particularly on the health management and policies to deal with the most prevalent infectious diseases in the European context. 

Apart from several scientific papers and chapters of books, our group has coordinated two dossiers in scientific journals (Dynamis in 2012 and Asclepio in 2020) and participated in three others international dossiers (Hygiea Internationalis in 2015, and Manguinhos in 2015 and 2020). It has also published and coordinated the following five books, with important participation of our main national and international contributors/collaborators:

– María Isabel Porras Gallo et al. El drama de la polio. Un problema social y familiar en la España franquista. Madrid. Libros La Catarata, 2013.

– María-Isabel Porras-Gallo & Ryan Davis, (eds.), The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. Perspectives from the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas, Rochester (EEUU), Rochester, University of Rochester Press, 2014.

– María Isabel Porras Gallo et al. La erradicación y el control de las enfermedades infecciosas. Madrid, Libros de la Catarata, 2016.

– María Isabel Porras Gallo et al. Salud, enfermedad y Medicina en el Franquismo. Madrid, Libros de la Catarata, 2019.

– Porras Gallo, María Isabel, La gripe española, 1918-1919. La pandemia que cambió nuestras vidas y retó a la medicina y los profesionales sanitarios. Madrid, Libros de la Catarata, 2020.

Through our focus on the study of the social construction of diseases throughout history, the responses and the establishment of means to fight against them, as well as the development of the history of public health and the politics of social protection, we think about the role played by science, technology and society in dealing with health problems. Our critical reflection from a historical perspective helps to show the relationships among them and to better understand the diseases affecting our societies. The importance of this role during the current pandemic encourages us to continue working in the same direction in the future, to contribute to improving society’s understanding of the health problems it faces. 

Science Technology and Society Group, Institute of Philosophy, CSIC

The STS research group of the Instituto de Filosofía focuses on studies of science, technology, and medicine. It pays special attention to the structures of knowledge production, expert and lay communities and their history, practices, dynamics, and values, including those of energy and the life sciences. It also deals with knowledge transfer processes, including patents and their dynamics. The group’s research perspective is interdisciplinary, and includes history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, biology, art, etc. 

Another line of inquiry, pioneered by the group in the Spanish and Latin American context, is research on science, technology, and gender. The group has researched women’s work in different areas of science and technology. This has led to the group being present and participating in the most recent and important debates on the feminist agenda. It is noteworthy its active involvement in initiatives and policies to promote equality and visibility of women in science and technology.

The group also researches functional diversity from the perspective of material culture, techniques, and discourses about the body. The group also researches the culture of science, problematizing what we understand science to be, who constructs it and what other possible political cultures of science are possible.

The group also seeks to strengthen research on art, science, and technology.  To this end, it is establishing links with national and international groups and researchers and promoting various initiatives with them. The goal is to overcome visions of art that see it as merely illustrative and narrative.

Such visions tend to overlook art’s its potential as a tool for thinking about complexity and what is “difficult to narrate” as a characteristic of artistic practice. The group has also activated a collaboration agreement with artistic and cultural institutions interested in this hybridization, such as the Spanish Academy in Rome or Reina Sofía Museum.

The projects led by this group help to “think the present” by bringing to the forefront past and present controversies that are currently very topical in academic, political, and social forums. The transdisciplinary and the different intellectual backgrounds of the group members allow them to work from different theoretical and methodological approaches; and to reflexively address contemporary problems from a scientific, cultural, historical, and socio-political perspective.

The team has a high rate of scientific production with prestigious journals and publishers (a brief sample is included in the bibliography). It has research work of relevance to society, for example affecting equity policies in science and technology.  It has a notable capacity for disseminating and publicizing its achievements through the media. The group also participates in master’s and doctoral programmes and has an excellent record in the supervision of theses and grants. 

It maintains connections with national and international research and innovation networks (such as Red Iberoamericana de Ciencia, Tecnología y Género, GENET – Red transversal en Ciencias Humanas, Sociales y Jurídicas, Institute of Science and Technology Studies, Commission on Woman and Gender Studies). It also has experience in in collaborating with groups outside the CSIC that address diverse social problems (climate change, prevention and health consequences, education and scientific culture, technological innovation, precariousness, collective intelligence, conflicts between knowledge, values, interests, and emotions).

 

Bibliography

Argyriou, Konstantinos (2021). Misgendering as epistemic injustice: A queer STS approach. Las Torres de Lucca: Revista Internacional de Filosofía Política, 10 (19), pp. 71-82. https://doi.org/10.5209/ltdl.76464

Cañelles, Matilde; Campillo, Nuria E.; and Jiménez Mercedes (2020). COVID-19 vaccine race: analysis of age-dependent immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 indicates that more than just one strategy may be needed, Current Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 27, October.

Muñoz, Emilio; Ana García Laso y Domingo A. Martin Sánchez (2018). “The Challenge of Transversal Education Through Teaching Ethics in Engineering: From Hubris to Hybrid”, en Spanish Philosophy of Technology.Contemporary Work from the Spanish speaking Community (B. Laspra and J.A. López Cerezo,eds.), Series: Philosophy of Engineering and Technology, vol.24, pp. 239-249, Springer, Cham.

Pérez Sedeño, Eulalia Kiczkowski, Adriana and Márquez Pérez, Isabel (2018). A sociological study of gender and astronomy in Spain. Nature astronomy, Vol. 2, August, 628–633.

Romero de Pablos, Ana (2020). Mediation and Harmonization: Construction of the Spanish Patent System in the Twentieth Century. In Patent Cultures: Diversity and Harmonization in Historical Perspective, Graeme Gooday, and Steven Wilf (eds.). Cambridge University Press, pp. 184-198.

Santesmases, María Jesús (2018). Circulating Penicillin in Spain, 1940s-1980s: Health, authority, and gender. Palgrave.

Toboso Martín, Mario (2018). Diversidad funcional: hacia un nuevo paradigma en los estudios y en las políticas sobre discapacidad. Política y Sociedad, Vol. 55, Núm. 3, 783-804.

Zafra, Remedios (2020). Three Decades of Art, Feminism, and the Internet. In Art, images, and network culture (ed. Juan Martín Prada). McGraw Hill, pp. 55-82.

 

Konstantinos Argyriou is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Science, Technology and Society of the Institute of Philosophy (Spanish National Research Council, CSIC), under the grant Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU) of the Spanish Ministry of Universities. He develops his thesis project in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (Autonomous University of Madrid), examining the representations around gender identity that are generated in counseling and in psychological evaluations between Spain and Greece.
konstantinos.argyriou@cchs.csic.es

Matilde Cañelles, Senior Resarch Scientist at the STS Department of the Philosophy Institute, Spanish Research Council (CSIC). Worked for 20+ years as an immunologist, currently studying the history ow Women in Science and communicating the Science of the Pandemic through TV, radio, newspaper and Twitter (account with 2,3K followers). matilde.canelles@cchs.csic.es

 


Emilio Muñoz is professor emeritus linked to the Department of Science ,Technology and Society (STS) from the Spanish Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC) and emeritus professor at the Unit on STS research from CIEMAT. He is a promoter member of the Spanish Association for the Advancement of Science (Asociación Española para el Avance de la Ciencia, AEAC) and Chair of its Advisory Council.
emilio.munozruiz@gmail.com

Ana Romero de Pablos is a Tenured Scientist at the Institute of Philosophy in the Department of Science, Technology and Society at the Spanish National Research Council in Spain.  As Historian of Science and Technology she has published extensively on the history of physics and nuclear sciences in Spain, female scientists in physics and on the circulation of knowledge and scientific artifacts.
ana.romero@cchs.csic.es

 

Eulalia Pérez Sedeño is Research Professor and director of the STS group at the Institute of Philosophy. She has been a pioneer in opening the STS field to gender studies and initiating a “new” interdisciplinary line such as Science, Technology and Gender studies both in Spain and Latin America. Within STS and CTG studies, Eulalia has paid special attention to the analysis of biotechnologies applied to women’s bodies, and feminist epistemologies.
e.p.sedeno@csic.es

 

María Jesús Santesmases, PhD in Chemistry (University of Madrid), is Research professor at the Department of Science, Technology and Society, Institute of Philosophy – CSIC. Her research is on history of biomedical sciences, and of gender and women in biomedicine.
mariaj.santesmases@cchs.csic.es

Mario Toboso Martín is Tenured Scientist at the Department of Science, Technology and Society. His research topics focus on the intersection between Science and Technology Studies and Disability Studies; Studies on functional diversity from material culture, techniques and discourses on the body; Ableism; Disability in Amartya Sen’s capabilities and functioning’s Approach; Accessibility and Inclusive Designs; Studies on time and techniques.
mario.toboso@csic.es 

Remedios Zafra is a writer and is a Tenured Research Scientist at the Institute of Philosophy of the Spanish National Research Council. She has been full time professor of Art, Innovation and Digital Culture at the University of Seville. PhD of Arts, International Master’s Degree in Creativity and higher studies in Art, Philosophy and Social and Cultural Anthropology. Her research studies and books deal with the interrelationship between Art and Technology, Feminism and Gender Studies and Critical Theory of Digital Culture.
remedios.zafra@csic.es