Catalyst: Frameworks



In chemistry, a catalyst is an agent that sparks a reaction and increases its rate, stimulating shifts and changing outcomes. A catalyst galvanizes but also produces alternative pathways for actions to occur.

The journal's name reflects the very first aim of the editorial board in seeking to open a publication space for feminist science studies. In the introduction to the inaugural issue, they explain:

Catalyst is here to facilitate distributed chains of scholarly reactions, yielding new work that both synthesizes a range of feminist and critical intellectual legacies and transforms them in the process. While the journal foregrounds feminist science and technology studies, it also recognizes the plurality of traditions that have come into reaction with feminism and technoscience—reactions for which there is now a dedicated forum.

The editorial board explains, therefore, that Catalyst is more than a home for creative and critical feminist science studies scholarship; the journal supports and fosters feminist STS through "expanded forms including mixtures with other critical traditions, research-based critical media practice, new orientations, and experiments that will continue to elaborate the future of the field."

Experimental Space

As an experiment, the launch of this journal invites the question: What might a future feminist STS become? This question is not merely academic. In a world infused with technoscience, the work of theorizing and inventing better relations and practices with technoscience remains urgent... 

Catalyst is conceived of as an experiment. Experiment is a shared practice across the arts and the sciences and at the heart of STS. In a broad sense, experiments can be thought of as technical-social assemblies that arrange and intervene in the world towards the possibility of making something different happen. Experiments, thus, are conjectural future-making assemblages.


The editorial board, in the introduction to the inaugural issue, emphasizes the plurality of feminist STS, and clearly notes that the journal's aim is not to "crystalize a feminist STS as a singular field with fixed intellectual or disciplinary boundaries." Instead, the journal editors aim to "mobilize the resources to foster needed encounters among critical traditions" by acknowledging the various genealogies that have shaped the contemporary form and content of the field. 

[V]arious genealogies...are being remade as scholars discover neglected or ignored sources of inspiration such as the turn-of-the century science fiction of Muslim Bengali feminist Begum Rokeya, or insert new kinds of embodiments into canonical texts, such as new readings of the work of Sigmund Freud, or invoke the works of feminist scientists such as Lynn Margulis and Barbara McClintock, or reposition the crucial work of postcolonial thinkers such as Frantz Fanon and Saidiya Hartman as constitutive of the field's intellectual and political directions.

The inaugural piece also identifies other genealogies feeding into their understanding of feminist STS, which are particularly helpful references for newcomers to the field.   

Theory + Practice 

As a site of experiment, Catalyst is committed to bringing theory and practice together.

The inaugural piece underlines that feminist STS appears "in multiple artistic settings and activist collectivities, in digital practices, and in transnational circuits of making and doing that involves activists as well as practicing scientists who are grappling with shared theoretical issues." Drawing on such multiple eruptions of feminist science and technology studies in different practices, the journal's online platform has been designed to provide a space for artists, scientists, and activists alike.


In line with the journal's effort to bring theory and practice together, the editors note that

the journal hopes do more than translate across disciplines; it aims to be a platform that can generate dialogue between science practitioners and theoreticians by bringing feminist, anti-racist, and queer theory into biomedicine, or reimagining ecological frames, or designing social justice into existing and future infrastructures.

The journal aims to foster a dialogue space between science practitioners and theoreticians, a feature that has emerged as one of the unique, and promising initiatives of the journal.


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Created date

July 27, 2018

Critical Commentary

This artifact outlines the intellectual frameworks that orient the journal, Catalyst.



Group Audience