Call for Papers
Spaces of Technoscience Workshop
Dates: July 21-23, 2014
Venue: National University of Singapore
The Science, Technology, and, Society cluster and the Department of Southeast Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, invites interested scholars to submit abstracts for an inter-disciplinary workshop entitled “Spaces of Technoscience,” to be held in Singapore.
Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly also include a short resume and mention of notable publications, along with contact information. The proposed paper should be based on original work, written for this workshop, and not published or committed elsewhere. We encourage you to identify the particular theme your paper speaks to (see below), although we are also open to considering papers on aspects of technoscience and space that are not identified in the project statement.
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer travel or other financial support, however, partial funding for local expenses for scholars based in developing countries will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Deadline for submitting abstracts: March 1, 2014.
- Successful candidates will be notified by March 15, 2014.
- Final Papers will be due on July 1, 2014
Project Description: The need to focus on “Spaces of Technsocience” begins from the recognition that much of contemporary technoscience can no longer be contained by analysis at the national scale. From flows of expertise and movements of bodies to the mutations of labour, value, instruments, and artifacts, technoscience is increasingly determined by transnational horizons. The inertial weight of the national scale, however, has not disappeared from our concepts, scholarship, or policy recommendations, and this tension opens up a productive point of departure for this workshop.
“Spaces of Technoscience” thereby offers STS scholars the opportunity to explore technosciences in one location or many, through networks and across different scales of theory, action, and struggle. In the process, it also offers the possibility of side-stepping intellectual aporias that have plagued STS for too long, namely, the varieties of cultural essentialisms that typify “East v. West” distinctions, familiar markers of difference that are nonetheless reliant on shallow and reified concepts of space. For convenience, we find it useful to break down the idea of “Spaces” as follows.
- New Sites: Technosciences always come from somewhere. While the scientific laboratory has long been privileged as a site for specialized knowledge production, the conceptual turn to technoscience, rather than Science or Technology, has upset the lab’s analytic and intellectual centrality. First, the boundaries around laboratories were disassembled and its material and political allies and adversaries exposed. We now appreciate that there are important differences between scientific and corporate labs, for example, but also that meaningful technoscientific knowledge can emerge from places as different as zoos and science parks. Museums, military bases, buildings, clinics, asylums, and farms have all been or become sites of technoscientific activity. Moreover, rather than single sites, we may often be called to examine networks that include a variety of nodes, from factories and power stations to mines and hospitals. Networks in turn are rarely static, or for that matter, permanent. The dynamism of technoscientific transformations requires attention to the passages, circulations, and immobilities that characterize networks, that lead to intersections between them, and that distinguish one technoscientific chain of production and dissemination from another.
- New Geographies: An entirely different set of spatial coordinates is mapped by technoscientific activity seen through the lens of geopolitics. Some of these connections go back centuries, others are ongoing negotiations between places separated by boundaries of power and wealth. The close linkages between colonial medicine and metropolitan public health institutions, or, the indispensability of tropical landscapes for the creation of biomedical knowledge and commercial value mediated through botanical gardens, are well known examples of how colonial technoscience brought far-flung locations into a common space of uneven circulation and unequal exchange. Imperial divisions of the world have given way to joinings and separations produced by national and transnational capitalisms, within and across state borders. Nowadays, not all net value flows from South to North. Complex new geographies of technoscience are shaping an unequal world along fault lines both old and new. The remarkable expansion of clinical drug trial infrastructures in poor countries and the growth of international medical tourism, are, in the own way, are examples of how structural differences in political economy maps technoscientific chains onto discrete spatial locations.
- New Bodies, New Publics: With new geographies and new sites of technoscience comes the interpellation of new publics. Some have been tacitly invoked already: “reserve armies” of potential mothers, organ donors, and clinical drug recipients joined by battalions of young and globally mobile skilled professionals, typified by IT “techno-coolies.” Some publics emerge due to their locations: villagers and fisherfolk who live near sites of radioactivity and nuclear power stations, migrant workers who are denied access to the technology parks they build, forest dwellers who find themselves blocked from access to forest produce in order to allow “wild” animals to live more easily in their “natural” habitat, urban dwellers who find themselves subject to new public health concerns due to the increased mobility of viruses that come from far away. Other publics have emerged through contestation. The feminist activists who successfully mobilized to force the end of amniocentesis devices being used to identify female fetuses and the villagers who organized themselves in a campaign that led to the national Right to Information in India are both examples of publics forged in techno-struggle. A different set of technoscientific relations are situated in and through the bodies of subjects. These may range from embodied resistances to antibiotic drugs to mass inoculation campaigns and the systematic mapping of populations to locate genomic value, “bio-capital.” Individual bodies as well as biopolitical “populations,” in other words, constitute publics interpellated by technoscience. Worries over regulation, citizenship, participation, consent, traveling diseases, and biomedical surveillance constitute the political counterpoint to proliferating spaces of technoscience, even as it is increasingly clear that conventional sites and modes of governmentality may no longer be adequate to monitor or cope with them.
Workshop Organizer: Associate Professor Itty Abraham