4S 2011: Seeing States and State Theory in STS, Double Session

Cleveland, we are coming! Nicholas and I submitted a proposal for a double session on “Seeing States and State Theory in STS” for the next annual meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) in Cleveland, OH. The conference will be held from the 2-5 November, co-located with the History of Science Society and the Society for the History of Technology. The committee just approved our proposal: this is going to be great! 

Here is the preliminary program, we keep you updated!


Seeing States and State Theory in STS

Proposal for a Double Session at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), Cleveland, Ohio, November 2-5, 2011

The relationship between science, technology, and governance is a relationship that shapes and is shaped by contemporary states. While this relationship has been influential in STS research on how contemporary modes of governance influence scientific practice and technological innovations, the converse question of the influence of both on governance is relatively underrepresented. This session, therefore, takes-up the task and explores the inter-play between this relationship and its depiction in history and social/political theory. 

With one eye on “seeing like a state” and the other eye on “state performativity,” we engage and question well-trodden artifacts of historical and social theory such as state entitivity, state materiality, and the much distributed Foucauldian model of stateness. Looking for insights in both directions, what does STS have to offer and learn from these important traditions that have shaped so much previous research? We are also curious about seeing state performances in some historical relief, for example, in establishing reciprocity under neo-liberal circumstances, in shifting ontologies of health care, in massive state projects such as California’s delta, and even in times of ungoverned anarchy set in Southeast Asia. We, therefore, invite papers that explore empirically and conceptually the possibilities of research based on an STS approach to politics, states and stateness, governance and governmentality. 

We propose a double session: the first session is focusing on conceptualization and theoretical approaches, dealing mostly with the mechanisms and techniques of creating, maintaining and shifting the multiple ontologies of stateness. The second session is presenting a series of five case studies on the role of conflict, measurement and performativity for the enactment of stateness, drawing from rich empirical projects. 

Session 1: Seeing States and State Theory in STS: Conceptualization and Theoretical Approaches

  1. Ontologies of the Technoscientific State: Heterogeneous Assembly, Obligatory Passage Point, and Discursive Punctualization, Patrick Carroll, University of California, Davis, CA USA
  2. Governing by Social Capital: From the Stabilization of Facts to the Regulation of Performances, Hendrik Vollmer, Bielefeld University, Germany                          
  3. Planning political macro-actors: standardising opposing Electronic Health Record scenarios, Wouter Mensink, Center for Technology and Innovation Management, Netherlands
  4. Ecocities in Contemporary China: a Case Study in the Design of Ecological Governance, Erich W. Schienke, Penn State STS, PA USA
  5. Embodied States: Consuming With Pleasure Under Neoliberalism, Kelly Moore, Loyola University, IL USA

Session 2: Seeing States and State Theory in STS: Case Studies in Conflict, Measurement, and Performativity

  1. The science of population in a state of exception, Anat Leibler, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
  2. Measuring like a state: Sovereign power and the monopoly on the legitimate Means of Measurement, Hector Vera, New School for Social Research, NY USA
  3. Innovation processes in governance: The making of instruments, Jan-Peter Voss, TU Berlin, Germany   
  4. Una Cosa Segura? The Role of Security Technologies in Mexico’s War on Crime, Keith Guzik, Bloomfield College, NJ USA
  5. Energy and Economics at the US Department of the Interior, 1943-1949, Daniel Barber, Harvard University, MA USA