4S 2021 Conference Open Panel CFP

This year’s 4S (Society for the Social Studies of Science) annual conference is going to be in Toronto (and online) 6-9 October. 4S is one of primary networks for the international and interdisciplinary study into social studies of science, technology, and medicine.

The theme for the event is:

 Good Relations: Practices and Methods in Unequal and Uncertain Worlds.

What does it mean in practice to strive towards good relations as humans, with technologies, in our modes of knowing, within environments, across distance, and with other-than-humans? When we speak of good relations, we address ethics of care, frameworks of responsibility, and solidarity that span disciplinary and subject boundaries. We invite these reflections in relationship to the insurgence of white supremacy, the intensity of grief, and continuing struggles against long standing oppressions at personal and structural scales. As we convene for 4S 2021, we invite reflections on the practices of relations making at every scale.

The full theme outline is here

This year, along with colleagues, I am co-chairing an Open Panel and we welcome abstracts for contributions.

My co-chairs are:

Asa Stahl – Snr Lecturer, Design, Linneaus University, Sweden
Kristina Lindstrom – Snr Lecturer, School of Arts & Comms, Malmo University, Sweden
Eliana Sanches -Aldana – Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Design of the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Laura Forlano – Associate Professor of Design, Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology, USA
Carl Disalvo – Associate Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA).

Un/Making a Difference: the possibilities of extra-ordinary acts of mundane resistance in unequal and uncertain worlds


This open panel explores small and modest acts of resistance, ‘acts of citizenship’ (Isin and Nielson 2008) and enactments of ‘citizenship from below’ (Sheller 2014). These are socio-political methods, practices and performances and identities, made, claimed and negotiated on many scales, including sensory and embodied mundane daily practice. Often small and mundane, these acts and enactments can make a big difference.

We are seeking contributions that address ‘the deeper constitutive struggles over embodied freedoms and embodied constraints within unequal interpersonal and international relations’ that are ‘etched by everyday actions, scrubbed by washerwomen’s hands, dug into small plots of land, sewn into new fashions, danced to sacred rhythms honoring ancestral spirits’ (Sheller 2014, 23).

How have collectives (of individuals, things, tech, plants and animals) attempted to change the world for the better? What kinds of alternate or unofficial ‘desire lines’ are created ‘that show everyday comings and goings, where people deviate from the paths they are supposed to follow’(Ahmed 2006, 570)? How have they sought to ‘provide alternatives’ and ‘possible sources for the development of new kinds of practices, narratives about belonging to and participating in society’ (Holston 1995, 48). How do different practices and methods invite us to consider how things ‘might have been otherwise’ (Bijker and Law 1992, 3).

We welcome individual and collective, inventive and speculative practice research and experimental multi-media presentations using audio-visual, objects, material and performance.


Ahmed, Sara. 2006. Orientations. Toward a Queer Phenomenology. GLQ12:4, pp. 543-74.
Bijker, W and Law, J. eds. 1992. Shaping Technology/ Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change, Cambridge and London, MA: MIT Press
Holston, J. 1995. Spaces of Insurgent Citizenship, in Holston, J. ed. Cities & Citizenship, Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Isin, E and Nielsen, G.M. eds. 2008. Acts of Citizenship. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Sheller, Mimi. 2012. Citizenship from Below. Erotic Agency and Caribbean Freedom. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

How to submit:

Single paper submissions take the form of abstracts of up to 250 words. They should include the paper’s main arguments, methods, and contributions to STS. You should clearly situate your work in relation to STS scholarship.

View all the Accepted Open Panels here.

When you are ready to submit, click on the Submit Now button to log in to the program platform and select Papers for Open Panels.

Deadline is Monday 8 March.

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