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Going Deep: Emerging Methods for Studying the Underground in STS

Thu, August 30, 9:00 to 10:30am, ICC, E5.5


Underground spaces and places are difficult to see, explore, and develop, making them sites of speculation and persistent unknowns. This makes the underground a particularly intriguing site for social studies of science and technology, and both knowledge and ignorance about the underground have attracted the interest of STS scholars working in variety of theoretical and disciplinary traditions. However, studying human interactions with subterranean materials and places poses methodological challenges. How do we observe and analyze what is often an absence of knowledge and experience of the underground? The aim of this presentation is to explore the research methods and analytical strategies that STS scholars have used in work dealing with the underground. In particular, this talk will highlight the work presented at the STS Underground Workshop that will take place in advance of 4S Sydney, which is organized around methodological questions and practices of engagement. The workshop continues a discussion about the unique perspectives and ideas that STS scholars bring to studies of mining, underground exploration, burial, and extraction. This conference presentation will serve as a report-back on the ideas emerging from the STS Underground research network to the larger 4S community.