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TRANSnational STS

Sydney, Australia

August 29 – September 1, 2018

Call for Papers, Closed Panels, Making and Doing Presentations, and STS Across Borders Exhibits

Submissions to open December 1st, 2017
Deadline for Submission: February 1st, 2018

There are many ways to participate in the 4S 2018 conference: presenting a paper in an open panel, a closed panel, or a panel formed by the program committee; being a discussant; chairing a panel; participating in a Making and Doing session; participating in the STS Across Borders Exhibit, attending a pre-conference event, and taking part in the range of social and collegial events across the 4S conference.

The theme of the 2018 annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science – TRANSnational STS – encourages presentations, panels, and other events that deepen and extend the transnational character of the Society itself, while engaging issues invoked by both the TRANS prefix (across, beyond, to change thoroughly), and by the problematic and evolving status of ‘nations’ in processes of global ordering. Click here for the full theme statement, or here for translations of the theme statement into a wide range of languages.

Participation guidelines
In order to maximise participation across the conference, the programme committee will be following a set of guidelines in reviewing paper submissions and panel abstracts.  

In general terms participants will be limited to One ‘Presenter Role’ and Two additional ‘Non-Presenter Roles’ in the conference.

Presenter Roles will include:

  • Presentation of a research paper and;
  • Participation in a panel discussion.

Non-Presenter Roles will include:

  • Panel organisers and;
  • Panel discussants and;
  • Organisation or participation in a Making and Doing session and;
  • Participation in the 4S poster session.

Panel chairing is not counted towards a role.

Some example combinations:
Some possible combinations of these role limits might include, the presentation of a research paper (Presenter Role), together with chairing a panel (Non-Presenter Role) and presenting a poster (Non-Presenter Role).

Alternatively, you might like to combine a role as a panel discussant (Non-Presenter Role) with presenting a paper (Presenter Role) and participating in a team in the Making and Doing Session (Non-Presenter Role).

4S is committed to supporting the participation of parents and carers of children. Therefore, please indicate what you anticipate your childcare needs may be during the conference, at the time of abstract submission to help us plan for the best support possible (we will be exploring a range of options, that we will share before the registration deadline).

Twitter, photos and online presence
We are envisaging that 4S Sydney will have a lively participation across a range of online formats with some participants wishing to live-Tweet or upload photos to social media. If you do NOT want live tweeting during your presentations or photos taken of you or your slides, please let the audience know at the start of the panel and/or the start of your paper.

Good conference participation
We ask that all our participants are respectful of presenters’ preferences regarding live-Tweeting, or taking and sharing photos.

Papers for Open Panels
Over 100 open panel proposals have been accepted for 4sSydney. A full description of the Open Panels are listed below, and will be available in the submission system.

The purpose of calling for Open Panel proposals is to stimulate the formation of new networks around topics of interest to the 4S community. For 4S 2018, Open panels have been proposed by scholars working in every continent and relating to just about every major STS theme. Open panel paper submissions should be in the form of abstracts of up to 250 words. They should include the paper’s main arguments, methods, and contributions to STS.

When submitting papers to open panels on the abstract submission platform, you will select the Open Panel you are submitting to. Papers submitted to an open session will be reviewed by the open session organiser(s) and will be given first consideration for that session.

At the time of submission, you will also be asked to nominate two alternative open panel preferences for your paper. In the event that your paper is not included in the open panel of your first preference it will be considered for the alternative panels indicated in your submission.

Single papers
Single paper submissions should be in the form of abstracts of up to 250 words. They should include the paper’s main arguments, methods, and contributions to STS. If you are not submitting your paper as part of a closed panel proposal, we strongly encourage you to submit your paper abstract to an open panel. When you submit your paper, you will be asked to designate one or more topical STS Research Areas using a drop-down menu. Single papers not associated with closed or open panels will be organised into panels by the program committee.

Closed panels
Each closed panel proposal should contain a summary and rationale of up to 250 words, including a brief discussion of its contribution to STS. A panel proposal must contain a minimum of three paper abstracts conforming to the criteria above. A maximum of six time slots are available per session (e.g. 5 papers plus 1 discussant). A panel can run over more than one session, and up to 4 sessions in total. If the proposal contains fewer than five papers, the Program Committee may assign additional papers to your panel to optimise scheduling and participation. We encourage closed panel organiser to include people from diverse regions, in keeping with the conference theme.


Making & Doing Program
The STS Making and Doing Program invites 4S members to share expression of their on-the-ground practices and innovations in scholarly knowledge work in a range of formats extending beyond academic papers or books. Due to its great success at previous 4S conferences in 2015 and 2017, this is the third time an STS Making and Doing session will form part of the conference program.

This session aims at encouraging 4S members to share scholarly practices of participation, engagement, and/or intervention in their fields of study. We also welcome new and emerging STS practitioners, interdisciplinary practitioners, Indigenous knowledge authorities, and researchers seeking to mobilise or make visible knowledge, language and culture practices not normally supported within the Western academy.

The STS Making and Doing session provides opportunities to connect the themes of the conference in other-than-conventional ways.Participants are welcome to highlight connections with the conference theme of TRANSnational STS and to cross-reference other posters, panels or presentations within the conference, including within the STS Making and Doing program.

As scholarly works, STS Making and Doing presentations should move beyond simple promotion and offer an analytic or reflexive contribution to the conference. Presenters are invited to connect with one or more of the following modes in their presentations, or detail their rationale around an alternative mode.

Methods practices. Reflecting on, or proposing new, methods of scientific, social scientific and STS research inquiry. Including methods as experimental, contingent, performative, technical, and embodied, and as agents of and within diverse forms of social, technical and political arrangements.

Issues, people and publics. Concerning forms of participatory involvements in the formatting and arranging of civic life. Including forms of embodied and face-to-face engagement and experimentation, as well as digital, statistical and algorithmic practices of production and inquiry.

Performance and affect. Raising questions of material agency and contingency, including the potential of creative and poetic forms of knowledge production, as well as the involvement of the body in political and scholarly practice.

Knowing and governing. Provoking various ways of knowing and the study and practice of forms of organisation and innovation, as well as democracy and other politics including through policy, science, anthropocene futures and possibilities for activism and social change.

Infrastructure and co-design. Engaging means for producing, supporting, intervening within various forms of social, material, digital and virtual infrastructure subtending collective life, including participatory, collaborative and co-design practices and their effects.

Situated Knowledges. Enacting or articulating on-ground research or other knowledge practices which are developed and/or seek to remain ‘in-place’, including forms of knowledge work which are relevant to the interests of STS but which may not strictly identify as part of STS as a disciplinary area.

Proposals should include a short abstract (75-100 words), a long abstract (250 words), a picture or photo relevant to the presentation as well as relevant physical space requirements (e.g. do you need a quiet room, predominantly online space etc). All abstracts should address the connection of the project to concerns in STS, and move beyond promotion to include reflective analysis.

All Making and Doing presenters will receive access to a table, electricity and Wi-Fi, other requirements will be considered but cannot be guaranteed. Accepted abstracts and photos will be displayed on the conference website prior to the event.

The STS Making and Doing Prize Committee is looking into ways of highlighting connections and differences between clusters of contributions. Judging for the STS Making and Doing Award will take place during the meeting. The STS Making and Doing Awards formally acknowledge and celebrate distinctive achievements in practices of STS making and doing.

STS Across Borders Exhibits

Furthering its theme, TRANSnational STS, the 4S Sydney conference will include special exhibits that showcase STS from different regions, diasporas, and genealogies. Together, exhibits will explore different ways STS developed across time and space, and the structures, infrastructures, and systems that have allowed--or worked against--the cultivation of STS modes of thinking.

Exhibits in STS Across Borders will be presented gallery-style in Sydney, and also curated as digital collections that can be preserved, elaborated, and accessed over time in a new 4S archive. Presenters who elect to curate digital exhibits are also encouraged to have a physical exhibit in Sydney. Both gallery and online material can be presented in many languages. The goal is to build deeply diverse grounds for the future of STS and 4S.

STS Across Borders exhibits could have various kinds of foci. Examples of these include exhibits featuring:

  • STS in a particular country or region (STS in China or East Asian STS, for example)
  • STS in a particular department/ educational program
  • An STS journal (Social Studies of Science, for example, or Cultural Anthropology (focusing especially on its STS publications))
  • Events/ Phenomena/ Social Movements of interest and relevance to STS, such as various March for Science demonstrations across the world in April 2017

The goal of STS Across Borders is to support collective engagement across such different traditions and enactments of STS in the lead-up to Sydney, in Sydney, and beyond. Thus, beyond the Sydney conference, STS Across Borders exhibits could also be installed in various STS departments, library foyers, or in local science musea. Digital collections prepared as part of STS Across Borders also can be engaged in multiple ways beyond the Sydney conference: for example, for individual research, workshops (online or in-person), and classes.

Proposals for STS Across Borders exhibits should be approximately 250 words, indicating the title and focus of the exhibit, and the kind of material expected to be archived online. Proposed projects do not have to have a deep digital archiving component. Minimally, proposals should include a plan for a small gallery exhibit. Exhibit curators will work with the STS Across Borders Design Group to work out allowable formats, permissions, and so on. Proposals can be submitted by individuals or groups, but must have a lead-curator. To submit a digital exhibit, at least one curator for each project must complete online training to learn about the project’s digital platform. This training will give curators both autonomy within the project platform, and capacity to connect to curators of other exhibits.

Gallery Exhibits exhibits will be organized around small posters that together tell a story about how STS has developed in a particular setting, or in response to a particular problem. Exhibits could also be designed around specific narratives already published--like Michael Fischer’s “Anthropological STS in Asia” (Annual Review of Anthropology 2016) or Pablo Kreimer and Hebe Vessuri’s 
“Latin American Science, Technology, and Society: a Historical and Reflexive Approach” (Tapuya 2017). Curators are encouraged to design posters that respond to questions that can also be answered in other exhibits, allowing for comparison. See sample questions below.

The STS Across Borders Design Group will provide poster templates and easy instructions for printing. See the posters made by the Bread and Puppet Theatre Group for ideas (though STS Across Borders exhibits will need more detailed content).  Posters will be archived online as photo essays.

Table space for each exhibit (see photo) can be used to display books, journals, old conference programs, and so on. Exhibits can also include a computer (provided by the exhibiting group) where visitors can explore associated digital collections.

Digital Collections can be more expansive, and can include oral histories, field research videos, department brochures and posters, photos, and so on, all of which can be captioned or annotated. The architecture of the digital platform for the project will support shadow box-like displays (for inspiration see the “assemblage art” of Joseph Cornell), with each box-within-the box treated as a holding place for material (textual, audio, and video). Exhibit curators will go through on-line training to learn how to work within the project’s digital platform, gaining experience and skills that can support further collaboration and other digital projects. People primarily interested in the digital aspects of STS Across Borders can train to become Editorial Infrastructure Fellows who will work across projects.


Contributing Editors Program. In the lead up to the conference, the STS Across Borders Design Group will run a Contributing Editors program to support people building exhibits. The program will run from February 1, 2018 through 4S Sydney, meeting virtually every month to share ideas, maintain momentum, and develop strategies for encouraging engagement with exhibits. Students are encouraged to join the program to fulfill degree requirements for research or as an independent study course in their home departments (see sample bibliography below as an example of something that students can build and annotate on the platform towards course requirements). Participants can work on a project they select themselves, or on an assigned project--focusing on 4S itself, for example, on journals such as Science, Technology, & Human Values, and Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, or on the history of a regional STS organization such as the Asociación Latinoamericana de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología  (ESOCITE). Participants in the Contributing Editors Program will also collectively build a shared bibliography intended to  become a resource across across STS communities, helping to identify convergences and divergences across diverse intellectual traditions and genealogies. Please review  further details about the Contributing Editors program. If interested in joining, please sign up here. Deadline for signing up is February 5, 2018. 

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