Neutrinos, Jet Fuel, Endings and Beginnings

by James Besse, Niki Vermeulen, Sarah Schönbauer, Vincenzo Pavone

History does not move in a linear, unidirectional, or constant manner. If anything, it moves in fits and starts, suddenly rushing ahead, only to stop suddenly and meander about, or change direction altogether. The seemingly blinding pace of global crises and shocks that have characterized the past two decades have been a testament to that. As we seem to exit the era of COVID-19 and the unprecedented public health measures used to control it, we become preoccupied with concerns over the war in Ukraine and the renewed potential of nuclear war, alongside the existing climate crises, the fragility of the global economy, and threats to the cohesion of the European Union, which have hovered in the background throughout the public health crisis. This issue of the EASST Review reflects on science and technology in these current times, and the evolution of our field within it. 

Most importantly, we are deeply saddened by the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine and our hearts go out to all victims, and especially to our colleagues and friends in Ukraine and Russia, alongside the STS communities in these countries. We laud the efforts (especially on behalf of the Polish community and everyone else involved in Central and Eastern Europe) to welcome refugees from Ukraine, and we hope that such a welcoming stance is extended toward all other refugees. Europeans need no reminder of the cruelty and violence that results from limiting the scope of one’s sympathies. We all agree that STS is political, but it is not always clear what that means. We are especially grateful for the various academic initiatives to welcome refugees, and during the conference in Madrid and future editions of the Review, we invite an open dialogue about the responsibility our community has in the face of such tragedies, as also indicated by our President Maja Horst in the section News of the Council. This edition of the Review offers a start in STS Events, with Ivan Tchalakov’s account of the panel The war in Ukraine and European (dis) integration: possible axes of change, organised by his STS centre at the University of Plovdiv in Bulgaria on March 22. In addition, Translations is offering broader reflections on the concept of internationalisation, inviting us to rethink our engagement with a process that is significant, both in our analysis and our working environments.  

For this edition, we had already invited a number of contributions on the political dimensions of outer space research and exploration for STS Live. Richard Tutton’s piece reflects on the social weightlessness of billionaires’ private space flights and attends to the limits of escapism. Eleanor Armstrong explores the ways that science museum gift shops reinforce limited – and sometimes explicitly sexist and nationalist – understandings of who can conduct space research and exploration. Finally, the piece by Matjaz Vidmar and Saskia Vermeylen shows how science museums can offer alternative, more inclusive visions of space science. Things can always be otherwise, and this paper offers visions for such alternative futures.

This is in line with the upcoming EASST conference in Madrid, (increasingly) appropriately named “The Politics of Technoscientific Futures” which will offer a look into the future of STS, science, and technology. Vincenzo Pavone has written an update, highlighting the immense work of the local committee in organizing a conference in times of war and pandemic. The meeting is now open to register and will feature an impressive number of contributions and promising plenaries (see the last EASST Review and conference website for more information). 

As always there will be an event for early career researchers, this time organized by Rose Bieszczad (EASST Council), Andrea Núñez Casal, and James Besse, offering a space for a new generation of STS researchers to reflect upon what they see as the future of the field. It is our first in-person meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we look forward to meeting STS colleagues and friends, new and old. 

Unfortunately, our community lost another valued member and friend: Trevor Pinch sadly passed away at the end of last year. In addition to the many tributes to him, Wiebe Bijker and Karin Bijsterveld jointly wrote an obituary for our Review. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. STS, and all of us personally, owe a debt of gratitude to Trevor for his long career of research, teaching, and relentless advancement of our field in both Europe and the US. Among many other memories and things, countless much-loved copies of The Golem and the inclusion of sounds and synthesizers in STS are what Trevor leaves behind. 

In this issue we also take the opportunity to reflect on the important work of Ulrike Felt as EASST Council President, who handed over to our new president Maja Horst. This ceremony unfortunately took place online due to reinstated travel measures, but we want to make sure to mark the occasion. A heartfelt thanks to Uli, for all the important work you did for EASST and we look forward to thank you in person during the meeting in Madrid. As the Vienna STS department has already featured in STS Multiple, we thought it was fitting to highlight the development of STS Austria to provide a local context to Uli’s boundaryless work. 

We would also like to warmly congratulate Sheila Jasanoff for receiving the prestigious Holberg Prize 2022 granted by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research at the University of Bergen. This prize reflects her indispensable research and theoretical contributions to STS, contributions that have an immense impact in and beyond STS. Hilde Reinertsen, Tone Druglitrø and Ana Delgado write on this achievement in the STS Events section. 

Finally, as we already told you in the last edition, our editorial assistant Sabine Biedermann is now succeeded by James Besse. We want to take the opportunity to thank Sabine again for all of her contributions and we definitely missed her knowledge in putting these last issues together. You will be able to meet James in Madrid, but in the meantime a brief introduction to the new member of our team. He is a doctoral candidate in STS at the University of Edinburgh, working on identity and access management and its applications in the public sector. James’ research is engaged with ongoing political and legal discussions, especially related to Freedom of Movement. In addition to his PhD research and his involvement in EASST, James is currently working on building networks between STS research groups working on the study of information infrastructures. Together with Léa Stiefel (STS Laboratory, University of Lausanne), he recently organized a workshop bringing together more than 30 STS researchers from across Europe for a workshop in Lausanne, Switzerland, questioning the politics and governance of sociotechnical infrastructures. James is also involved in discussions of methodology in STS, especially mixed-methods research, alongside teaching computer programming and statistical methods to social scientists. As such, he is certainly the right candidate to help us develop the EASST Review as a shared publication infrastructure. And if you want to know more about the University of Edinburgh, you can explore the Curious Edinburgh project in Cherish not Perish. 

The next issue will be dedicated to summaries and impressions of the Madrid event, and we welcome everyone’s contribution via 

In the meantime, take good care of yourself and each other, 

James, Niki, Sarah and Vincenzo (the editorial team)