CfP for Society for the Social Studies of Science (4s) conference, Boston (August 30 - Sept. 2, 2017):
Panel 79: Island Imaginaries: from repositories to experimental labs
Organized by Mascha Gugganig, Technical University Munich; Maximilian Mayer, Tongji University
Particularly in western thought, islands have borne a fascination for “exceptional“ ecologies or “remote” human societies and political systems. As repositories conducive not only to evolutionary theories but for theorizing the social, their potential for intervention has equally been an allure. Colonial empires, military logistics, and also philanthropists have turned islands into experimental labs of the natural, technical, and the social. Examples range from nuclear tests to developing genetically engineered crops or testing electrical grid systems in more contemporary times. Bringing together these two island imaginaries – repository and experimental lab – allows exploring how islands and their oceanic environments, in the gaze of outsiders, emerge as sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff & Kim 2015) that constitute both the exceptional Other to be preserved (biodiversity, culture), and synecdoches of the world.
This panel examines island imaginaries by inviting research in STS and other disciplines, such as international relations, geography, indigenous studies, anthropology, and history. The papers aim to query the normative virtue of “original,” “remote”, “untouched” (social and natural) states, as well as the experimental intervention as normalized, unquestioned undertakings of modernity in the distance. We pose how islands are made sense-able through diverse modes of knowledge-making. How do experienced realities of island inhabitants (see Hau'ofa 1993) challenge established accounts of islands? How to account for the heterogeneity that emerges from conflicting imaginaries and experiences? Building on recent STS scholarship, the panel seeks conceptual and ethnographic accounts of historical and contemporary cases of islands as technoscientific test beds.
Discussant: Rebecca Lemov, Harvard University
Submission Deadline: March 1, 2017