A research center in the global south—like Kaleidos—speaks to the history of postcolonial neoliberal construction of academic infrastructures. What this means is that Kaleidos was purposefully set up in the global south. It is part of thinking about the power relations behind academic possibilities and knowledge production. As academics from the global south (though often trained in the global north), many of the founders of Kaleidos are attempting to create a research space that asks questions pertinent to its local context but which can no longer be detached from global debates. We feel that we are generating scientific knowledge from spaces that have historically remained peripheral to academic production. Kaleidos has the ability to connect STS debates—often produced in the global north and in English—to new (non)academic audiences. In doing so, our research production can expand the co-production of STS knowledge as well as the reach of global debates. We feel we are particularly well suited to maintaining ongoing conversations and producing knowledge with communities many of us often work with while engineering new formats for communicating, querying what science is in our context, and leveraging our collective findings in a changing and increasingly threatened environment.
This approach to academic possibilities resonates with Max Liboiron’s—and CLEAR’s (the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research)—explanation of how collective research is done and what it means to attempt to change the process of science production. This could be creating new instruments/infrastructures that include working with low-resource technologies, redefining base lines, working on unstable legal frameworks, having unique accesses, and also recognizing—as Liboiron explains—that “power is more like infrastructure, not decisions or behavior–more like how some decisions and behavior by some people are allowed to happen, valued, reproduced, and others are harder to do.”
This reflection was part of our exhibit in STSInfrastructures in the 2019 4S Annual Conference