CISP Salon 2016/17 Review: STS Then and Now

Throughout the history of the Centre for Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, the CISP Salon has been a venue for academic discussion across disciplines, with an evolving format decided according to the needs of the science and technology studies (STS) community by a rotating group of organisers.

During the 2016 Autumn and 2017 Spring terms, we were given the opportunity to lead the CISP Salon, which we structured as four reading groups. As the Spring term draws to a close and we prepare to hand over the Salon responsibility, we wanted to briefly reflect on our Salon experience.

We strove to compose an outward looking programme to reach STS scholars and interested readers with different levels of experience and different disciplinary backgrounds. We wanted to provide a platform for not only academic discussion of texts, but one that could also serve as an introduction to STS ideas for those who had not encountered the field before.

We titled our 2016/17 Salon series “STS Then and Now”. With the four reading group meetings, we wanted to make connections between the early years of STS and the recent theoretical and empirical work that draws on that rich history. Our ‘Then’ texts were drawn primarily from 1980s and 1990s, while our ‘Now’ texts were from the last two years.

We organised each Salon under a theme (you can find a list of all the discussed papers at the end of this post). The first one dealt with cyborgs, discussing Donna Haraway’s seminal text together with Nelly Oudshoorn’s recent work on pacemakers. In the second salon, we discussed situated practice, starting with Lucy Suchman’s contributions, and following it with Sara Grimes’ research on configuring the child user.  We began the third salon with Susan Leigh Star’s work to understand the methodological issues surrounding the study of infrastructure, and we discussed how these issues inform Joan Donovan’s study of social movements and communications infrastructure. Finally, in the fourth salon, we discussed postcolonial frames for studying of science and technology, starting with Sandra Harding’s “Is Science Multicultural?” to understand and question claims of universal science, and continuing with how these questions inform Lindsay Adams Smith’s study of DNA identification.

Organising the CISP Salon allowed us to meet new scholars with similar interests, and also gave us an opportunity to connect with colleagues. We believe that it is important to continue demonstrating the links between STS concepts from their initial conception to their current use, especially to encourage new readers and new readings.

In closing, we would also like to acknowledge the third member of our group, Naho Matsuda, who designed the posters for all four salons. We received many compliments on the visual design of the posters, and we cannot thank Naho enough for her contribution to the success of the Salon series.

Baki Cakici & Jess Perriam

salon-01-cyborgs salon-02-configuration

salon-3-infrastructures salon-4-postcolonial-sts



Haraway, D.J., 1991. A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge, 149–181.
Oudshoorn, N., 2016. The Vulnerability of Cyborgs: The Case of ICD Shocks. Science, Technology & Human Values 41, 767–792.

Suchman, L., 1987. “Human-Machine Communication”, in Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge University Press.
Grimes, S.M., 2015. Configuring the Child Player. Science, Technology & Human Values 40, 126-148.

Star, S. L. 1999. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American Behavioral Scientist 43 (3): 377–91.
Donovan, J., 2016. “Can You Hear Me Now?” Phreaking the Party Line from Operators to Occupy. Information, Communication & Society 19, 601–617.

Postcolonial STS
Harding, S.G., 1994. Is Science Multicultural?: Challenges, Resources, Opportunities, Uncertainties. Configurations 2, 301–330.
Smith, L.A., 2016. Identifying Democracy: Citizenship, DNA, and Identity in Postdictatorship Argentina. Science, Technology, & Human Values 41, 1037–1062.