Parting words, returning things

by Niki Vermeulen, Sarah M. Schönbauer, Vincenzo Pavone

This has been quite a run. My tenure as the editor of the EASST Review began shortly after the EASST conference in Torun, basically with me asking Isaac Marrero to publish one of his photos of the fireworks (remember the fireworks?) on the cover of the following issue. It culminates here. After a fundamentally different, but equally successful conference – without fireworks, but with four times as much attendance and, yes, with productive questions about the role of STS in a fundamentally different world. 

When I look back at these six years, I first and foremost see the faces of two friends and colleagues, who have done most of the invisible work: Sabine Biedermann, who became editorial assistant of the EASST Review in 2018 and Anna Gonchar, who’s been its graphic designer since 2014. It’s great to know that you will outlive me in the Review team! 

A very special and wholeheartedly recognition and my gratitude goes also to Josefine Raasch, who co-edited the Review with me during the first year and then became part of the extremely generous Editorial Board we put together. Let me also thank each one of the members of the editorial board: Vicky Singleton, Tomás Sánchez Criado, Andrey Kutzenov, Liliana Doganova, Michaela Spencer and, of course, Niki Vermeulen, who will be part of the editorial collective taking over from now on – and which is completed by Sarah Schonbauer and Vincenzo Pavone. I am very excited to know the Review is in such good hands. 

I was also lucky to enjoy the unrestricted support and blind trust of two different presidents (many many thanks for that Fred Stewart/Sonia Liff and Ulrike Felt!) and two councils (thank you all of you! You’ll understand you are too many to be named here ϑ). In Salla Sariola, editor of our journal Science & Technology Studies, I found a partner in crime and so much inspiration in thinking about what the Review could aspire to be.

I should probably now write something about our accomplishments during these six years, give you some numbers, for example, or things like that. I won’t. In that line, I will just mention the thing I am happiest with, namely, the section ‘STS Multiple’. I think this is a true treasure. So long live STS Multiple. I would rather use this tribune to speak about the things not yet accomplished.

One major set of concerns throughout the last six years has involved the materiality of the Review as a digital object. I started out with the clear idea that the future of the Review could not be in a PDF-document sent out per email to EASST members. The first step, which we managed to accomplish, was to stop the embargo on the PDF and make it available to the whole STS community. But evolving from a PDF to another material and/or digital form was a cause I stopped to fight for, especially as so many people seemed to be so happy with receiving the PDF in their mailboxes. Be that as it may, the challenge seems still to be to device a better digital presence for the Review.

A second set of ideas and ambitions that only partially came to fruition was to transform the EASST Review into a space for experimentation with and reflection about modes of writing in STS. We had many inventive contributions that went in different ways beyond the minute-like reports of STS events and EASST conferences, and we managed to articulate lively conversations about current issues, such as ‘alternative facts’ and #metoo. But I always struggled with how to convince you, readers of the EASST Review, that this is the place to go with your experimental, inventive, speculative, overtly political pieces of writing. 

Finally, one idea we discussed many times over the years was the dictionary of untranslatable terms and conceptual equivocations. The question was how to account and reflect about the linguistic multiplicity of doing STS and the idea was to ask the national associations to create their contributions to such a dictionary. I leave it out there for whoever might want to make it his or her own. It’d be such a wonderful and interesting resource to expose and reflect about the politics of difference and translation in and through language. 

Be as it might: thanks for these wonderful years. Long live the EASST Review!