Multiple Matters: From Neglected Things to Arts of Noticing Fragility

Conference at the University of Lausanne and online, February 15–17, 2021

Conference Rationale

Over the past decades, in the face of natural hazards, economic collapses, democratic deficits and other forms of daunting setbacks, a prosperous body of literature has emerged to address the precariousness, complexity and plurality of things, beings and their coexistence. Within this literature emerging from Science and Technology Studies, as well as from bordering disciplines, various debates have suggested the fragility of not only the Earth and its ecosystems, but also of large technical systems, forms of life, human bodies and scientific knowledge. Different scholars and researchers have argued that such cataclysms offer us potential pathways to rethink the emergence and composition of heterogeneous worlds, the relations between various ecologies of possibility, so as to reconnect with non-human forms, values, actors and species. Many of them argue for re-imagining the politics of inquiry to develop arts of noticing the “thickness” or “togetherness” of the actual and multiple worlds we inhabit.

Building on these debates, this inter/national conference invites contributions that engage empirically, but also methodologically or theoretically, with fragile futures. This invitation has taken on a new urgency in the light of the global pandemics of COVID-19, and the resulting total crisis. In this new call, we therefore welcome contributions addressing this unprecedented event as an occasion to reflect upon fragilisation, discontinuation, and recomposition processes.

Against this backdrop, the overarching conference aim is to reassess the recent contributions of STS and beyond to the study of emerging worlds by gathering scholars from both inside and outside this interdisciplinary field of research. Through different formats (workshops, thematic panels, exhibitions, art performances, round tables etc.), we seek to address how such approaches can have significant impact on the understanding of contemporary issues such as climate change, global health, digitalisation, knowledge politics, open innovation, maintenance and discontinuation, heritage and futurism, migra1on and care practices, among others, by capturing how they participate in reinventing worlds in the making. We welcome all proposals that allow for fruiUul exchanges, experimental collaborations and speculative modes of engagement between academics from various disciplines, but also with and among activists, artists, and anyone concerned.

Possible topics include

Climate change and environmental sciences

Artificial intelligence and algorithm studies

Knowledge politics and post-truth

Maintenance and repair studies

Migration and border studies

Medicine and environmental health

Gender studies and material feminism

Communication infrastructure and digital technologies

Hacking, DIY and open innovation

Market devices and the platform economy

Digital cities, open government and platform urbanism

Participatory design and experimental knowledge infrastructures

Media studies and web philosophy

Like former editions before the Swiss STS Meeitng 2021 is intended to encourage and promote the social, historical and philosophical study of sciences in Switzerland. This event lasts for three days and aims at bringing together STS scholars of all career levels.

Event format

We plan for a hybrid event (physical meeting, online attendance). In case a physical meeting will not be possible in Lausanne in February 2021, we will go fully online.

Event and Registration (Link)