Previewing the 2022 EASST Meeting in Madrid: a travel guide

by Andrea Núñez Casal, Niki Vermeulen, Vincenzo Pavone

When we started thinking about the content of this EASST Review, we were living in a world that slowly seemed to be opening up again. We thought it would be a good idea to connect to this spirit and present you a preview of the Madrid conference and a special issue about STS in Spain. While at the moment we seem to be getting back into lockdowns across Europe and the state of uncertainty continues over winter, we are still glad that we can provide you with a preview of what awaits us in Madrid in summer. We genuinely hope that this edition will spark some enthusiasm for what EASST has in store for 2022 and that this adds some sunshine and intellectual joy to the festive period. 

One person we will all very much miss during the next conference and as part of the EASST community is our dear colleague and friend Andrew Webster who passed away this Autumn. It seems only fitting that the new section Remembering is dedicated to him this time and SATSU is welcoming any additional thoughts about Andrew on their website: 

Before diving further into the content of this issue, we would like to warmly welcome Andrea Núñez Casal as guest editor for this issue. With her knowledge of STS in the Spanish context she has been pivotal in the making of this edition. She temporarily took over the place of Sarah Schönbauer, who we want to congratulate with the birth of her son: very happy news! Another important change in the team behind the EASST Review is the shift in editorial assistant. Sabine Biedermann has taken care of the publication for a long time, first working alongside Ignacio Farías and over the past year helping us to understand what it takes to produce a Review. We want to thank her for all she has done for EASST, and the Review and we are hoping to say thank you in person soon. We are very glad that James Besse is taking over Sabine’s work and looking forward to collaborating with him over the years to come. James is doing his PhD at Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh, studying the design and implementation challenges of the EU Settlement Scheme in the context of Brexit. As such the connection between the UK and Europe is close to his heart and he is keen to contribute to EASST. 

This EASST Review is about the upcoming EASST 2022 Meeting in Madrid (now July 6-9, 2022) and STS in Spain. First, Vincenzo and Tess Doezema, will give an update about the conference preparations, including announcement of date change, followed by a special focus on the plenary sessions awaiting us from post-growth to science fiction. As place matters in research, and it is always better to get to see a place through the eyes of locals, we envisioned this volume of the Review as an ‘STS travel guide’, a modest intellectual and experiential guide to reflect on our upcoming meeting. With tourism being a key sector of the Spanish economy, we hope that our proposition of conceiving the present volume of Review as a ´travel guide´ becomes a playful invitation to ruminate about, practice, and experience other forms of tourism in Spain, beyond stereotypes of sun, fiestas and siestas. As such, the Review maps the heterogenous and pluralistic ways in which STS is practiced in Spain. STS multiple is dedicated to Spanish research groups relevant to STS and Cherish not Perish highlights the Spanish journals Arbor and Dynamis. We have invited contributions of groups and journals broadly and we still welcome additional contributions which we will publish in the upcoming months on the conference website. 

Our intention in the preparation of this review was driven by our aim to show the diverse ways in which STS in practised in the host country of our forthcoming 2022 Meeting. STS multiple embodies those divergences, similarities, and idiosyncrasies of STS by including research groups from Vigo, Valencia, Ciudad Real, Madrid, and Barcelona. This section of the Review will show the interplay between an STS drawing on (critical) innovation studies, techno(bio)politics, technofeminism and disability studies among others, and an STS shaped and reshaped by the deep-rooted intellectual tradition in the History and Philosophy of Science, Medicine, and Technology in the country.  An example of this transformations is the pioneering research field of Science, Gender, and Technology initiated in the past century by colleagues from the Science, Technology and Society Department of the Institute of Philosophy (CCHS, CSIC). The work of these colleagues has built, for decades, inclusive onto-epistemologies (see Alcalá, Pérez Sedeño y Santesmases, 2007), for instance highlighting the crucial role that women played throughout the history of Spanish science (see Santesmases, 2018). 

Travel guides are about places. Likewise, tangentially, we believe that the work of our colleagues that these pages showcase, offer a rich opportunity through which to approach and experience Spain in its multiple and plural configurations: its rich, confronted cultures and (at times brutal) histories; its wounded silences; its jovial, joyful, and hopeful differences; its pluralistic ways of enacting and being in these diverse composites of lands or “territories of difference(s)” (Escobar, 2008). These territories of differences that compose more-than-one Spain, are indissociable from its imperial and colonial past and, consequently, from the ongoing historical responsibility and debt of Spain with Latin America. This fact brings us to the question of language and ‘translations’. As you will see, this Review does not include the section Translations yet it embodies it by reflecting on shifts in meanings of STS in Spain and its concepts across borders, languages, and times. Spanish language, argues philosopher Reyes Mate, is “the language of an empire that ends up being spoken by conquerors and conquered” (2021, p. 14). Simultaneously, thinking in Spanish implies to be challenged by the «experiential richness of language”; it means to discover the “vocation of the South” (ibid) by which knowing and experiencing are one. 

Os deseamos un muy buen descanso vacacional y un buen comienzo del año nuevo. ¡Nos vemos en 2022! As always, we welcome contributions to our next Review coming out in Spring.

The EASST Review editors, 

Andrea, Niki and Vincenzo