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Building TRANSnational STS

infraStrucTureS was conceived as one response to the challenge of TRANSnational STS set forth by the 2018 annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) in Sydney, Australia, which articulated its goals thus:

Leveraging the global scope of Science and Technology Studies (STS), our aim is to intensify connection between conference participants (scholars, practitioners, and students) based in different regions, stimulating conversation about ways 4S and other scholarly societies can provide critical infrastructure for next-generation, transnationally collaborative, intellectual and political engagements. We also aim to encourage consideration of a broad array of concepts that are undergoing – or should undergo – transformation if we are to address key scholarly and practical problems of our times. [...] The overall goal is to foreground diverse STS genealogies and approaches, leveraging the rich pluralism of STS, attuned to the rich pluralism of the contemporary world.

Answering this call, infraStrucTureS hosted the STS Across Borders special exhibit, comprising of deep digital collections documenting the emergence and development of STS scholarship and communities in various institutional, regional and national, and publication spaces as well as a gallery-style exhibit hosted at the conference venue in Sydney. Collectively, STS Across Borders exhibits “foreground[ed] diverse STS genealogies and approaches” that have been articulated and elaborated in different spaces, aiming to underscore the “rich pluralism of STS.”

 

Moreover, infraStrucTureS works with the recognition that building inclusive communities demands persistent practical and intellectual attention and effort. STS scholarship, in our reading, is characterized by a unique tension: on the one hand, the field, more than many other disciplinary formations, has always been a space for rich interdisciplinary and transnational interactions. On the other hand, however, the field’s domination by Euro-American frameworks and institutions is by now well documented (see, for example, this recent review of the latest edition of the STS Handbook). This in spite of the fact that excellent STS scholarship has been happening outside of the western academy, in a variety of academic and non-academic settings (cf. Fischer 2016, Kreimer & Vessuri 2018, commentary on East Asian STS, and STS Across Borders digital collections). Various projects hosted on infraStrucTureS work with this recognition. Our documentation of STS genealogies is purposeful: one important goal is to enable comparative insight across STS formations, carefully curating collections to identify points of articulation and difference, thus creating capacity to more effectively leverage the pluralism of the field. An important motivation for infraStrucTureS is also to open up participation in STS beyond annual conferences of various STS associations so as to enable connectivity and mutual learning across STS communities globally.


One way to conceive of infraStrucTureS, thus, is as a platform which, in its functioning, seeks to understand and establish “critical infrastructure” and deliberative spaces necessary to cultivate “next-generation, transnationally collaborative, intellectual and political engagements” in the field of STS writ large.