All posts by NomadIT

Call for applications

Call for applications extended to 1st Dec

The EASST Fund supports a range of activities such as the organisation of conferences, network meetings, seminars, workshops, etc. These can be either online or in-person or a combination of both.

The end-of-year call for activities seeking funds from EASST has an extended deadline of 1st December. For more information and to apply visit EASST Fund.

STS Italia summer school 2022

STS Italia summer school

EASST helped fund STS Italia’s (Italian Society of Science and Technology Studies) 6th Summer School, Disentangling Futures: Promises, Scenarios, Experiments, which took place in Padova 27/09-01/10 2022.

For more information about the event view STS Italia’s website and view the programme PDF below.

Assunta Viteritti (University Sapienza)

NomadIT

I am Associate Professor of Sociology of Education and STS at “La Sapienza” University of Rome, where I am in charge of a Research Unit that develops teaching and research projects in STS fields.

At Sapienza I’m member of the Working Group called “Quality and Innovation of Didactic in Higher Education – QuID”, where I conducted research works on the transformation of the academic profession according to an STS vision.

Over the last 20 years my scientific trajectory has developed as an STS scholar. Since 2005 I have been a member of the STS Italia Scientific Association and, since 2010, I have contributed to the Editorial Project of the Journal Tecnoscienza (http://www.tecnoscienza.net/index.php/tsj/issue/current/showToc).

From 2018 to 2021 I was President of the STS Italia Scientific Association. As STS Italia President, I contributed to the organization of the 8th STS Italia International Conference (Dis/Entangling Technoscience. Responsibility, Vulnerability and Justice, Trieste, Italy, June 2021).

Over the last years, I have been coordinator or research partner in several research projects on STS topics. My research interests are situated at the intersection of laboratory studies, analysis of scientific practice, technofeminism and study of educational contexts (school and university) as sociomaterial networks.

In the last year, I started a research project on educational robotics in Italy and Europe with the EDU-Robot research unit (in collaboration with a group of STS researchers from Lausanne). I am also involved in investigating digitization processes in education according to an STS vision.

By applying for EASST Council, I wish to contribute to shaping the future of STS in Europe. As my specific contribution to the work of the board, from my experience over the past few years, I could perhaps make some contribution to the editorial work of the EASST journals, but I am also opened to contributing to other fields. Finally, I would like to become more familiar and involved with the STS international context.

With these motivations I propose my candidature for one of three positions of the EASST Council (ordinary members).

W: https://corsidilaurea.uniroma1.it/it/users/assuntaviterittiuniroma1it

 

Richard Tutton (University of York)

NomadIT

I am the Co-Director of the Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) at the University of York in the UK. I have worked in the field of STS for twenty years and co-chaired the Local Organising Committee for the EASST 2018 conference at Lancaster. I have recently completed one term as a member of EASST Council, during which time I served in different roles, including administering the EASST Fund, chairing the Amsterdamska Book prize, and being a member of the future conferences sub-group. I have also been an ‘active citizen’ in the wider STS community, joining the 4S 2022 Program Committee and the Madrid 2022 Scientific Committee. I have had a very positive experience of serving on EASST Council, even with the challenges of the past two years, and would very much welcome the opportunity to continue the work that I have started! To this position, I combine considerable experience of conference organisation, leadership of STS research centres, with a strong commitment to supporting the STS community in Europe (and beyond). Further, I have a positive and inclusive attitude to working with colleagues and very much enjoy the challenges of working across national borders.

W: https://www.york.ac.uk/sociology/our-staff/academic/richard-tutton/

 

Alex Rushforth (Leiden University)

NomadIT

I am a researcher, based at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University. I have long felt affinity and admiration for those serving the community through EASST and would be honored to serve as Council Member. Many issues face EASST and its members at present and I am particularly keen to give visibility to: inequities in career and job security among our members, varying degrees of access to critical infrastructures like conferences and journals, and issues surrounding the climate emergency.

I bring to the position strong administrative and event management skills, having regularly run team meetings and reading groups, as well as larger seminars, workshops and conferences across my post-doctoral career at Leiden and Oxford. I served as PhD representative during my PhD and as a member of my University’s Research Ethics Committee. Currently I coordinate a Thematic Hub in my department on Responsible Evaluation, working across disciplines and seniority levels to coordinate events and activities about reforming research assessment.

If elected, I pledge to speak up for future EASST conferences becoming hybrid, to help improve access for our members less able to attend and to help the community reduce its flight emissions. I also will speak up for members of the EASST community in precarious employment positions and those who struggle to access conferences and other critical resources. Through helping to tackle these and other challenges I hope I can repay EASST for what is has given me over my time in the field.

W: https://www.cwts.nl/people/alex-rushforth

Miquel Domènech (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

NomadIT

I’m associate professor at the Department of Social Psychology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. My research interests are mainly related to the study of care technologies (with a special focus on social robots at this moment) and citizen participation in technoscientific issues. I have been member of the EASST Council in the past, from 2015 to 2020. The first two years as a coopted member, due to my involvement in the organization of the 4S/EASST 2016 joint conference in Barcelona. As a member of the council, I have been especially committed to issues related to the preparation and organization of meetings. Besides, I have some experience leading groups and organizing processes (in the past I was the Dean of my Faculty and I’m currently the Head of my Department). If I get your confidence, I would like to put these skills at the service of our Association again.

W: https://portalrecerca.uab.cat/en/persons/miquel-domenech-argemi-4

 

Andrea Núñez Casal (Spanish National Research Council/University of Santiago de Compostela)

NomadIT

I am an inter/transdisciplinary researcher of the entanglements between microbes, embodiment and inequalities with a long-standing intellectual preoccupation with issues of biological individuality and embodiment in relation to alterity, health disparities and more-than biomedical approaches to infections/AMR. My PhD (Goldsmiths, 2019) examined the biosocial configurations of human microbiome science at the crossroads of ongoing histories of racial, classed and gendered capitalism. I am a Margarita Salas Research Fellow at the Department of Science, Technology and Society of the Institute of Philosophy at the Spanish National Research Council (IFS-CSIC) and the Department of Philosophy and Anthropology of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). I am currently conducting a research project, ̈GERMEN: Gender, Microbes and Buen Vivir ̈ (2022-2024), centred on local transgenerational knowledges-practices and embodied experiences of microbial healing and their subsequent imprint on contemporary microbiological research.

My past and present research, teaching and collaborative public engagement and editorial experiences are informed by how inequalities are being (re)produced in science as they move from and between the laboratory, the governmental, the popular and the embodied. Channeled by my compromise on a plurality of knowledges and a deep commitment to social justice, I would like to bring these experiences to serve as an EASST Council Member. My dedication to re-passion EASST community would be focused on inclusiveness, particularly around three key issues:

  • Precarisation, ́burn out ́ and institutional viability of so-called ̈early ̈ career researchers (ERC) by co-creating programmes in which mentorship meets intergenerational solidarity and action
  • Liaise with underrepresented European countries, regions, and STS local communities (e.g., in Southern and East Europe) including an effort in translation(s) and social media dissemination of opportunities in the field
  • Bidirectional, bottom-up, critical awareness between academic and non-academic publics around key STS concerns and debates by establishing a inter/transgenerational activities and programmes, reaching the youngest and the oldest of our local communities

W: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5707-3441

 

Gian Marco Campagnolo (University of Edinburgh)

NomadIT

I am Senior Lecturer in Science Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Faculty Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK Centre for Data Science. I am developing a Sociology of Data Science and my current empirical focus is the application of data science to sport. In the UK, I have been part of the ESRC Digital Social Research Network and member of the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnerships Peer Review College for Social Data Science. Internationally, I have been a Visiting Professor at the Copenhagen Centre for Social Data Science (SODAS), the Centre for the Sociology of Innovation at MINES ParisTech and the University of Trento. In Edinburgh, I have been Director of Online Learning for the School of Social and Political Science in 2019-22 where I coordinated the School response to the pandemic, pivoting 256 staff and 200 courses to remote delivery in 4 months. In my career I contributed to organise more than 17 international academic conferences including the Participatory Design Conference (PDC) in 2006. If appointed as EASST Council Member, I believe my leadership in the online delivery of academic events can contribute with new and sustainable ways to the efforts of the European STS community to maintain a sense international collegiality in a time of crises. The hybrid approach adopted by the PDC 2022 conference for example, held in-person at multiple venues all at once, could be productively translated to the case of EASST and its multi-sited structure of national hubs.

w: https://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/gian-marco-campagnolo

EASST Funds 2021-22

EASST Funds 2021-22

colourful europe map

The following projects were granted EASST funds:

6th STS Italia Summer School “Disentangling Futures: Promises, Scenarios, Experiments Lead Applicant: Paolo Magaudda (STS Italia / University of Padova, PaSTIS Research Unit). Co-applicants: Marc Audétat (University of Lusanne, STS Lab), Philippe Sormani (University of Lusanne, STS Lab), Stefano Crabu (University of Padova, PaSTIS Research Unit), Paolo Giardullo (STS Italia & University of Padova, PaSTIS Research Unit), Federico Neresini (University of Padova, PaSTIS Research Unit). 

International Multimodal Workshop with special focus on researching and publishing strategies for multimodal interventions in the field of migration, borders and security technologies., 21-22 April 2022  Lead applicant: Ildikó Plájás (Leiden University). Co-applicants: Nina Amelung (University of Lisbon), Pedro Neto (University of Lisbon), Koen Leurs (Utrecht University)

Online Seminar Series on Socio-Technical Integration Research: Building knowledge, skills, and community Lead applicant: Mareike Smolka (Maastricht University, NL), Co-applicants: Erik Fisher, Cynthia Pickering (Arizona State University, US), Michiel van Oudheusden (KU Leuven, BE), Miklós Lucovics (University of Szeged, HU), Alan Tkaczyk (University of Tartu, EE), Mone Spindler (University Tübingen, DE), Alexandra Hausstein (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, DE), Antonia Bierwirth (Tecnalia Centre of Applied Research and Technology Development, ES), Steven Flipse (TU Delft, NL), Peter Stegmaier (University of Twente, NL)

5th Conference Trends of the Sociology of Knowledge, Science and Technology in Portugal (10th Anniversary of the Thematic Section on Knowledge, Science and Technology of the Portuguese Sociological Association) and follow-up event Lead applicant: Maria Strecht Almeida. Co-applicants: Ana Raquel Matos, Pedro Xavier Mendonça, Andrés Spognardi, António Carvalho, and Filipa Queirós

Knowledge Exchange Workshop between the Social Studies of Outer Space (SSOS) Network and the European Space Agency (ESA). Lead applicants: A.R.E. Taylor, Tamara Alvarez, Michael Clormann, Denis Sivkov, Matjaz Vidmar. Co-applicants: Mark McCaughrean (European Space Agency), Vitali Braun (European Space Operation Centre), Bernard Foing (European Space Agency). 

Innovation and STS in Torun: The EASST Conference as a Generative Object

The editorial in the last edition of the EASST Review took us from fireworks to fire objects to archives (Farías 2014, p.3). Creating an “overtly incomplete archive” was suggested as a way to review the multiple practices of the EASST conference in Poland. The making of an archive highlights another characteristic of fire objects alongside their complexity – their generative quality.

“… Fires are energetic and transformative, and depend on difference—for instance between (absent) fuel or cinders and (present) flame. Fire objects, then, depend upon otherness, and that otherness is generative.”

(Law & Singleton 2005, p.344)

On this view, an archive of multiple accounts is one pattern of absence and presence created from otherness, from difference. My original proposal had been to write about futures – I presented in the “Synthesising Futures” track. However, reading back over my notes months later the productive quality of objects seemed like a more interesting motif to organise my partial account.

The production of patterns brings to mind the notion of another metaphor: diffraction. Waveform diffraction patterns depend, much like fire objects, on difference and are formed of creative and destructive interference (Barad 2007, p.78). Bringing the concept of fire objects to bear on my notes is a way of making a new pattern, new spots of bright and dark, new instances of understanding and further questions to be asked.

By way of background, Torun was my second STS conference. I attended my first in Denmark, at Copenhagen Business School, in the first month of my PhD. That was a thrilling experience. To me, with a background in laboratory bioscience and science education, it was a whole new way of looking at the world. Torun was different. Partly because I was presenting a paper and partly because the conference itself was smaller, somehow more intimate, the event moved on my thinking in important ways, which I’ll return to towards the end.

I attended six sessions from four tracks and two plenary sessions. The tracks were:

• Conceptualising responsible research and innovation in practice

• Crossbreeding STS with innovation studies

• Non-concerns about science and technology and within STS

• Synthesising futures: analysing the socio-technical production of knowledge and communities

My thoughts draw on many of the excellent papers in these tracks, but also on the bits in between – the breaks, long lunches and discussions. And, while a conference can be understood to produce many things including prizes, hot meals, book launches, advertisements, coffee, economic transactions, conversations and so on, I focussed my selection on how otherness is productive of questions and for developing early career academics.

Generating questions

Difference was notably productive in Harro van Lente’s meta-analysis of narratives often used in theories of innovation. His paper argued that it was possible to classify eight theories of innovation into Hayden White’s narrative genres. As romance, tragedy, comedy or satire. For instance, the ideal simplicity of the linear model of innovation is a romance characterised by ‘progress’ and a ‘struggle to happiness’. The ‘Social Construction of Technology’ is a comedy. Tales of misunderstanding and complication, but like romance, comedy ends happily. The presentation moved on to argue that because the authors could only find evidence for satire in literature, Huxley’s Brave New World being one example, there may be an absence of satire in STS scholarship. Thus, bringing together different things created a possible new direction for STS and IS research. Is there a new satirical future in the making? In the discussion following the paper, Robin Williams commented that, perhaps, different groups find it hard to write together because they have different ideas about what makes a good story. This raises other questions to ponder: What are the implications of choosing any single genre? What is included and what is not?

General discussions about what role STS scholarship should, or could, play in innovation featured in both the “conceptualising responsible research and innovation” (RRI) and “crossbreeding STS and innovation studies” sessions. One presentation proposed that STS could operate in the service of innovating new products. This opened up a familiar conversation – see Nina Amelung’s review about early career researchers in the last issue (Amelung 2014) – with some delegates putting forward the idea that other scholars might be uncomfortable with an instrumental conception of their research. This follows the idea that the role for STS is one of explanation (e.g. Bauchspies et al. 2006).

An alternative to this viewpoint is for researchers to be more involved in the processes of innovation. One form this could take, specific to RRI, is to think of researchers and innovators as caring for their work and that STS scholarship might mean:

“… both asking and helping to answer questions about the specificities of what kinds of care their knowledge and technologies invoke, where it will be practiced, and by whom, who it will reach and who it might miss or avoid? This kind of caring also requires STS scholars and scientists to attend to the consequences of care, when particular kinds of care are absent or backfire, when they interfere or disrupt other kinds of care, when they are presented as care but experienced as rejection or punishment.”

(Kerr 2012)

The notion of care presented here suggests prudence, awareness of emotions and a focus on process. This means on-going responsibility for the things STS generates, as well studying the practices of responsibility by scientists and innovators, and a willingness to be involved (Bijker 2003). However, the theorising about these roles tends to be abstract and general. For some researchers their involvement in a project can shift from explanation to engagement and back again – the roles emerge alongside the research and relationships. Mattering is a process. The different positions researchers can take raises a further question: would it be useful to focus on conceptual tools that deal with the changing roles of STS throughout cases and projects, as well as arguments spanning a whole field or area of inquiry?

Moving on practices

In a discussion following one presentation on RRI, a senior academic said the challenge of RRI was about relocating
responsibility from where it had classically resided, in individuals and in groups, to the process of innovation. Yet, the senior academic said, it was not clear whether the presenter had shifted back to individual entities because the presenter did not like the challenge, or because it was an error. The presenter stalled. It was one of the trickiest questions I heard at the conference, yet I did not note the answer. I mention it because I too had a similar moment. My paper’s focus was on synthetic biology and part of my argument involved conceptualising synthetic biology as having the characteristics of an epistemic object (e.g. Knorr Cetina 2005). In the discussion, I was questioned as to whether synthetic biology could be an epistemic object because I had also demonstrated it to be political. I realised my mistake. In earlier drafts I had referred to a partial object but at some point had switched back to the more restricted word ‘epistemic’. However, as I considered the question and my oversight on the plane home, I came to understand that I needed to develop my own framework. The months since the conference have been stimulating for me on this issue – it will be a chapter in my thesis.

The conference was not only about tidying up reasoning and learning from mistakes. Conversations with other students also brought to my attention that many were approached by more senior academics who were interested in their concepts or empirical data, and who suggested staying in touch or embarking on some kind of collaboration. The coming together of experienced scholars and new scholars, the differences in their academic ideas and social connections, creates possibilities for research relationships in the future.

Lastly, my most memorable paper was Detecting Security Politics in the “non-concerns” track. It was a ‘comedic’ tale, filled with rich detail and humorous insights, of developing a new international border technology which had to meet many different ideas of success. The main point was that the multiple actors in the project broke up a large risk, that of detecting biological, chemical, radiation, nuclear and explosive materials at border crossings, and ‘disaggregated’ it to many smaller technical problems. But, for me, it was the not findings that resonated: it was a style of delivery and a presentation of a necessarily absent project to which one could aspire. Less experienced scholars were moved on, then, by practices that developed the specifics in the formulation of their arguments, their academic contacts and their inspiration.

Conclusion

In this account I used the generative quality of fire objects to create a pattern of interference and a way of thinking about how different practices of the conference are productive. From this view, of objects as a generative pattern of absence and presence, the conference produces theory, directions for research, interdisciplinary interactions and changes the practices of students and early career researchers.