The word ‘meeting’ contains rich and diverse meanings. In English we find the following: an act or process of joining or coming together of people or things; an intersection or confluence; an encounter; an assembly; a place and time for discussion or decision; a space for dissent, battle, entertainment or contest; and (archaically) a unit of measurement.
Meetings has critical resonance at this time. Political and social forces – such as Brexit, Trump’s Presidency in the US, the rise in support for PVV in the Netherlands and for Front Nationale in France – seek to undo many relations and connections and to establish new, often exclusionary and destructive, alliances. That is, the politics of meetings is not a choice between doing or not doing relations, but rather to think about which actors meet and how, and to curate meetings that make some things present and other things absent. In this context, and in step with many other progressive responses, the EASST 2018 Conference will explicitly bring together, promote and celebrate meetings between, and differences within, the cultural and intellectual constituencies of STS.
STS is located at the connexions of people, things and values. It is engaged with our sociotechnical lives and explores our interdependencies with multiple others. Preoccupations with logic and epistemology in early STS have been mixed with an intensified concern with aesthetics, values, ontologies, politics and emotions. Our conference theme promotes generative mixing through meetings in all senses of this word: as a practical activity, a substantive topic, a political engagement and as theoretical exploration. By doing so, we hope to open up ways to imagine how things within STS and in our social and political lives can be otherwise.
We warmly welcome you to Lancaster as a meeting place for STS scholars. Given the theme of meetings we have ‘un-structured’ the conference. We have identified a series of streams that have built upon the etymology of the word meetings in STS inflected ways. Our aim is that we will each encounter STS work in many different contexts as we seek analytic, critical and practical engagement with the theme of meetings. So, we invite you to think about your contribution in response to the following streams.
|Encounters between people, things and environments. This stream has broad application in STS and contributions may focus on, for example, materialities, assemblages, the Anthropocene and changing climates, infrastructures in practice and the production and negotiation of risk.|
|Art and craft of joining and keeping things together. This stream invites a focus on doing, embodied knowledge and skills and the performativity of discourse in making and sustaining alliances. Work in this stream may therefore include: makers; engineering cultures, learning and collaborative work, and mending and repair.|
|Confluence, collaboration and intersection. This stream invites exploration of how alignments and intersections occur. This might examine how ‘interests’ take shape, evolve, conjoin through innovation networks, technology adoption, infrastructures and standardisations; the dynamics of how social practices evolve, intersect and re-form over time; or the making of new alliances and forms of inclusive and creative collaboration.|
|Conflict, dissolution, contest. Meetings may be occasions where differences are aired, contested, bolstered or dissolved. This stream may include studies of controversy, ‘scandal’ and public dissent, organisational failure, partings, boundary making, and hierarchies.|
|Assembly, silence, dissent. Meetings may be thought of as spaces where legal, medical and/or environmental matters of concern are worked out, a place for convening publics and professionals. Contributions to this stream could explore how technologies and devices of governance assemble and sometimes silence different entities, recognising some knowledges, marginalising others, and producing unequal conditions of speech.|
|Discovery, discussion and decision. This stream offers a location for studies that explore historical and contemporary ‘moments’ of discovery and innovation, management of uncertainties and the distributedness of deliberation and ‘decisions’. These may be in, for example, the practice of health and medicine, science or urban laboratories, materialist grassroots activism, labs or processes of governance and policy making.|
|Measurement, commensuration, markets and values. The problematisation of measurement has provided a rich seam of work across many fields of STS, for example, in the context of financial markets or the construction of ‘evidence’ in ‘evidence based medicine’. This stream invites analyses of the instruments of measurement, the values they carry, what they make visible and what they erase.|