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Message posted on 18/01/2023

Call for Abstracts: (Un)timely Endings: Negotiating Sociotechnical relations in their unmaking / Nordic STS, Oslo, June 7-9

Dear colleagues,

We invite you to submit papers to our open panel “(Un)timely Endings: Negotiating Sociotechnical relations in their unmaking” at the Nordic STS Conference in Oslo, 7-9 June. Deadline for 250-word abstracts is 1 March 2023. Submissions are done through the conference website:

PANEL DESCRIPTION: (Un)timely Endings: Negotiating Sociotechnical relations in their unmaking Panel organizers: Julia Velkova (Linköping University) and Marisa Cohn (IT University of Copenhagen)

Despite critical approaches aiming to mitigate harms wrought by emergent technologies, we little understand what it takes to disarticulate, dismantle, and let go of complex sociotechnical relations that comprise technological infrastructures. Public calls to dismantle or abandon technologies and large scale systems are now commonplace from ongoing massive efforts of science, policy, and industries to phase out fossil fuel-driven infrastructures, to the current and ongoing dismantling of Twitter as it falls into organizational neglect and users migrate elsewhere. Systems that are aging, obsolescent, or deprecated are all around us. Nuclear power plants are taken down, data centers, fiber optic cables, copper-line telephone systems, are “retired”, algorithmic systems, knowledge infrastructures, and software supporting organizational work, are continuously abandoned and replaced. These systems comprise sociotechnical relations, a wide variety of attachments and commitments – affective, material, embodied, professional, economic –that are refigured in their unmaking. What is a timely ending for some, may be experienced as untimely to others, as the differential temporal entanglements of technological lifetimes are exposed in their negotiated endings. When systems come to an end, there is a shift from repair as upkeep of ongoingness, towards letting go or “repair into decay” (Cohn 2016). This is a laborious process that requires disarticulating technology; engaging with fragility (Tsing), as well as the transience and ruination with infrastructure (Velkova 2019). This panel takes dismantling, decline, and deprecation of aging or retiring sociotechnical systems as a starting point to provoke a discussion about the technopolitics, temporal work, detachments and negotiations that unfold when technological development becomes oriented towards termination. We invite papers to engage in a conversation about decline when it is oriented not towards producing the ongoingness and durability of a system - as captured by perspectives on maintenance and repair - but decline oriented towards an end. Suggestions for questions and topics that papers could explore include, but are not limited to: · How is technological “retirement”, “decrescence,” “devolution”, and disarticulation from sites of use/social practice enacted? · How is "untimelines" socially negotiated, contested, challenged and inhabited? When and how does it matter, for whom? · How are entangled lifetimes, lifecycles, livelihoods disentangled? How are attachments/affinities - of materialities, bodies, knowledges - to an aging technology refigured towards endings? · How are different endings - convivial (Cohn 2016), or toxic or violent negotiated and which endings are enacted? What could it mean for sociotechnical systems to age and die “well”? · How is loss of relevance of knowledge/expertise enacted and negotiated in the social shaping of infrastructural untimeliness /dismantling/ disappearance? · Waning of / Decrescence of/transformation of imaginaries associated with a technology in decline (e.g. what it would look like if we revert the temporality of sociotechnical imaginaries - not towards a future but towards imagining/enacting a past?) Conceptual work to consider technological lifetimes and durations, their finitude as well as ongoingness.

Best, Julia Velkova and Marisa Cohn

Julia Velkova, PhD Associate Professor of Media and Communication Studies Department of Thematic Studies - Technology and Social Change web:

[Linköping University] Tel: +46 (013) 28 40 25 Visiting address: TEMA-huset, Room A311, Campus Valla s-581 83 Linköping Please visit us at E-mailing Linköping University will result in Linköping University processing your personal data. Find more information on how this is done at

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