It’s been roughly a year now of living with COVID-19. Seemingly nothing has been left untouched or unaffected in many countries on earth. To put it in the words of the EASST council in April 2020: “we have been catapulted into a different world”. Yet how different it has actually become will keep us all busy for a long time. It has been a year of changing lives, changing routines, changing work practices, changing relationships, changing mobility patterns, etc. These changes go along with new forms of co-living with microbes; international and national containment policies configuring potential new forms of nationalism; debates no health infrastructures and their economic/social/political/cultural embedding; diverging public health approaches and national risk discourses; public negotiations of scientific expertise; and scientific production processes gaining increasing attention. The COVID-19 pandemic also demands us to ask about disparities in the work place and educational sector, in health measures and health care and – related to that –social and environmental justice.
Since the pandemic has gained momentum, scientific work has also changed along with it: academic labour has shifted into home settings, reshaping boundaries between work and private life; teaching takes place in online formats and so do our meetings, workshops and conferences; empirical work is most often suspended or translated into virtual work e.g. virtual ethnography; the short-term format of third-party funded academics has unveiled its precarious side-effects; the necessity of mobility in and for academic work and careers has been given a different twist.
Along all such interventions into our lives and ways of living, one could say that COVID-19 opens up major tensions of postmodern times. Yet this global state of emergency also makes one thing strikingly clear: the importance and need for STS research. This research is not only essential in and for current social and political developments but will stay important in the aftermath of this current pandemic and for potential pre-waves of new pandemics to come. Hence, we find it of utmost importance to continuously reflect on and channel STS voices on how the COVID-19 pandemic infects our work, and our thinking on presents and futures. Consequently, this issue presents our ‘STS Live’ section on COVID-19, containing reflections on its impact on early career research, on research agenda’s and new ways of doing STS research. The various contributions share a call to action, from an embodied STS to sowing our thinking in and across societies.
We also present a new section to you called ‘Translations’. This came out of longer discussions on the need to pay attention to the multiple languages in which our work is performed, with valuable meanings and understandings getting lost in English translations, and vice versa, some books or articles not reaching those who do not understand the language they are published in. In addition, we hope that this section can host some articles on the impact of STS work, showing translation from academia to society. Our new section wants to give a platform on which we can show and reflect on shifts in meanings of STS and its concepts across borders, languages and times. The inauguration of this section pays attention to ‘socio-technical’ translations in Latin America and expands the meaning of ‘solidarity’ through engagement with Austrian healthcare for refugees.
As always, we are grateful for our authors and contributors to the EASST Review, to the above sections as well as our other standing sections, including ‘STS Multiple’ featuring the Techno-Anthropology (TANT) group at Aalborg University in Denmark, ‘Cherish not Perish’ on the new Manchester University Press STS book series ‘Inscriptions’, and ‘STS events’ with a report on the webinar “Back to Normal? Social Justice & DOHaD in the COVID Era” hosted by the MCTS (TU Munich) and the university of Southampton. Especially in these pandemic times which often leave no time to volunteer additional time to our STS community, the efforts of those who can contribute are very much appreciated. This also allows us to give a heartfelt thank you to the EASST council members who are leaving us and who have devoted their time to EASST over the past years. And we congratulate our incoming members and new president Maja Horst who has written a welcoming statement in our ‘news from the council’ section. We are looking forward to work with the new council in the upcoming years!
Finally, we would like to call on all of you to keep contributing to the Review. All thoughts and ideas for the sections above are welcome. We also are aware that the STS live section on COVID is only giving a glimpse of all COVID related research and challenges, so if you would like to react or contribute, there will be a place for that in the next Review.
Wishing you all the very best and take good care,
the editorial team