4S in Cleveland, a first couple of notes

Since I am the only one of our little outfit to be still left in Cleveland I might just as well start off reporting from the 4S meeting with a couple of quick Sunday morning impressions.
As usual, the meeting as a whole was well attended, and the organizers did a good job of providing a well-balanced mix of themes and issues.
Before I get to the sessions organized by Nicholas and Jan, I should say that the “author meets critics” panel with Marion Fourcade and with Daniel Breslau, Mary Morgan, and Ted Porter discussing Fourcade’s book about “Economists and Societies” somewhat stood out for me. For one thing, the discussants provided excellent commentary, but more generally speaking, I just love this format. Rather than having four+ different papers cramped into 90 minutes, you actually get a couple of very smart people discussing the same piece of work. Maybe the organizers could think about making this format a still bigger part of the overall schedule.
Then, of course, the two sessions about “Seeing states and state theory in STS”, organized and hosted by Nicholas and Jan, were surely the place where things were happening with respect to the interests represented in this blog. The powers that be provided one of the finer rooms and a good crowd of people was present, despite the fact that it was Saturday afternoon. If I should pick a presentation that impressed me the most, it was the presentation by MIchael Rodriguez-Mu??iz. He is studying the work of census representatives in getting the cooperation of people whose data have to be collected. What I liked so much about this study is that it nicely illustrates the work that has to be done at the periphery to make a technology that is historically highly crucial for establishing state power work in actual practice. It turns out that sometimes, rather than the state being summoned as an authority to implement a certain obligation, the actual exercise of state power benefits from being dissimulated. Fascinating stuff right there.
Thanks to Nicholas and Jan for making it all happen! I sense an STS field in the making here and maybe a continuous series of sessions for future 4S meetings. And one more reason to look forward to next year’s 4S in Copenhagen.

1 thought on “4S in Cleveland, a first couple of notes

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