The new EASST Council met towards the end of May in Lancaster UK. This was the official handover to our new President Ulrike Felt. There has been a large turnover of Council members so this was also an opportunity for council members to get to know each other, to review what EASST has been doing in recent years and to decide which areas of responsibility to take on.
A main part of the agenda related to our forthcoming EASST conference in 2018. Council had the opportunity to view the extensive facilities and to discuss with the local team their ideas for both the organisation of the event and for the theme and approach. Council were impressed with the level of commitment and enthusiasm for this important conference. Further details and an initial call will be available very soon. Check the EASST website and Eurograd posts for further details.
The EASST fund has now been launched for events taking place in 2018. Council will meet again at the beginning of November and will take forward a range of other issues including the next round of EASST awards for collaborative activity which will be awarded at the conference.
The 2016 EASST Awards for collaborative activity were made at the final plenary of the EASST / 4S Conference alongside the 4S awards. The plenary was hosted by EASST President, Fred Steward and 4S President, Lucy Suchman.
The plenary had a novel format. The Award Winners were paired and, following short citations from members of the prize committees (4S) or Council (EASST), they were encouraged ask questions of each other and to have a conversation about their work.
The details of the EASST award winners are:
The 2016 EASST Amsterdamska award for a creatively edited anthology in STS is made to:
Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America, MIT Press, 2014, edited by Eden Medina, Ivan da Costa Marques & Christina Holmes.
Beyond Imported Magic provide insights into Science and Technology studies in Latin America, which until now are only peripherally discussed in our field. It seeks to employ critical frameworks from science and technology studies (STS) to formulate new ideas and knowledge about how Latin American peoples, countries, cultures, and environments create, adapt, and use science and technology.
Its creative potential is founded in two core principles. The first explains the title of the book: Its contributions go beyond the idea of science and technology in Latin America as imported from somewhere else and instead explore alternative views of how scientific ideas and technologies are created, move, change and adapt. “Imported magic” was a native term applied about computers when they were first introduced in Brazil. The second principle is to examine the specificities of Latin American experiences to understand science and technology more broadly. The book does so throughout its three parts: The first part examines the politics of knowledge and representation in specific Latin American contexts and possible frames of analysis for studying science and technology in the region. The second traces the circulation of scientific ideas within community, national, and transnational networks. The final part addresses the mechanisms through which scientific projects and technologies are linked to Latin American politics and political will.
The book opens with an introduction to the Latin American historical context for science and technology and for Science & Technology Studies. Already the introduction very nicely points to how this kind of ‘area study’ in STS is not only about providing important insight into a part of the world broadly neglected by STS. Moreover, it is about how insights into this geographical area may provide innovative theoretical and empirical insights for the field of STS at large. The turn to other cultural ways of dealing with, developing, adapting and changing science and technology in order to learn also about the specificities of the culturality of the own understanding of science and technology suggests a promising method for theoretical and empirical developments of the field of STS.
Beyond Imported Magic challenges the idea of science and technology as moving from the global north to the global south, from an alleged centre to an alleged periphery. While this point is in itself not new, but has tradition in the anthropological areas of STS, the richness and varity of the book’s empirical studies from one and the same region provide a refreshing view of how innovations coming out of Latin America was adapted in the global North, about how collaboration and co-development between Latin American scientists and technology developers have shaped not only Latin American science, technology and politics but also European/US ones. Additionally, studies are presented of how technological adaptations in Latin America of imported innovations have been taken up in the global north.
Even though the understanding that knowledge is always situated and technology always socio-materially embedded belongs to the foundational insights of Science & Technology Studies the empirical studies in the field often discuss science and technology rather generally or in relation to rather small social practices. In both procedures the cultural situatedness of science and technology is often overlooked. In this situation Beyond Imported Magic very convincingly reminds us of the importance of taking into account local, professional, national and regional cultures and histories in the studies of science and technology.
The Amsterdamska award is not only granted to books whose content is creative, of high quality and with promise to gain crucial impact in the field of STS. At least as important for granting the award is the book’s collaborative contribution. The book is a result of a collaborations of scholars of all status levels: from ph.d to post docs, assistant professors, independent researchers, and Professors. The collaboration that finally resulted in the book started at a workshop that was part of the planning of the 4S meeting in Buenos Aires in 2014, followed up by a meeting among the authors and local STS scholars in Bloomington. Of this followed an open call for contributions, which we expect has also evoked engagement in the field of STS in South America. Not only is the book a result of a collaborative process. We also expect the book to be important for collaboration and community building within STS in South America, and among South American scholars and scholars in Europe and the rest of the world. EASST highly appreciates this collaborative endeavour and highly values that Beyond Imported Magic is not only the result of a collaborative process, but probably just as much is likely to ignite collaboration in the STS community in South America and beyond.
The aim of EASST as an organisation is to support Studies of Science and Technology in Europe. Why award a book from and about South America? On the one hand EASST greatly values that many scholars with background in European institutions have contributed to this book. Indeed, half of the contributors work or have been working in Europe. When considering what counts as ‘European’ one might in a globalized world moreover need – and want – to go beyond a geopolitical definition. This book’s great value for European STS scholars is to challenge prevailing concepts and methodologies through actively listening to ‘different’ experiences.
The 2016 EASST Freeman Award for a collective contribution to the interaction of STS with the study of innovation’ is made to:
The New Production of Users: Changing Innovation Collectives and Involvement Strategies, Routledge, 2016, edited by Sampsa Hyysalo, Torben Elgaard Jensen & Nelly Oudshoorn.
This book addresses the phenomenon of users centered innovation from a wide set of perspectives. Users innovation occurs in almost all areas, such as medicine, drugs, informatics, design, urban infrastructures, wind turbines. While the book is centered on STS, contributions also come from other fields, including management, innovation studies, legal studies and techno-anthropology. The volume originates in the EASST/4S Copenhagen meeting in 2012 where the idea of a book was discussed with the participants of a dedicated session and an open call for chapters was subsequently organized. The final volume holds contributions from 6 European countries (Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, UK, Norway, Sweden) and four contributors from the USA.
The volume gathers a rich set of contributions on users centered innovation. The 11 chapters are grouped into four parts. The first part focuses on theories of user innovation and the production of users in innovation. The second part is dedicated to user-producer engagements and industrial strategizing. Part III discusses innovation practices and user communities and the volume ends with a part on unwanted innovation and non-users. In addition, the editors have produced a comprehensive introductory chapter and Trevor Pinch has written an afterword.
We think the volume produces an outstanding contribution to the interface of STS and innovation studies. First of all, it provides a timely renewal of studies of users innovation. It takes stock of the different perspectives, including user-centered design, participatory design, open source software, consumption studies, co-creation and peer production. It also brings them together in a novel way. It interestingly demonstrates, for instance, that a wide part of the history of marketing may be analyzed as direct and indirect forms of involvements (voluntary or not) of users to the innovation process. It also discusses how this may challenge the idea that users innovation is associated with democratization of innovation. Secondly, the volume broadens the usual interest in user innovation. It goes beyond the traditional focus on situations of co-production in a participatory mode and also studies users’ innovation when it occurs in the margins, sometimes illegally, or when it is associated with controversies and conflicts. In doing so, and that is the third contribution, does the volume bring a novel research agenda on users in innovation. It succeeds in deepening the analysis of the place of empowerment, community building and strengthening of social capital in innovation dynamics.
To summarize, this volume is an excellent and opportune illustration of the cross-fertilization between STS and innovation studies. It will constitute a landmark in the area of users’ innovation. Therefore, it is awarded the EASST Freeman prize 2016.
The 2016 EASST Ziman Award for a ‘collaborative promotion of public interaction with science and technology’ is made to:
The Leiden Manifesto – declaration, website and international network, authored by Diana Hicks, Paul Wouters, Ludo Waltman, Sarah de Rijcke & Ismael Rafols.
The Leiden Manifesto is an initiative to engage with the rise of metrics based research assessment by articulating a set of principles which draw on the insights of science and technology studies on the nature of knowledge.
It has a distinctive European dimension as a partnership between Dutch and Spanish centres in science, technology and innovation studies along with a US scholar and arises from the European hosting of an international scientometrics conference.
It addresses a broad audience of ‘evaluators’ who are often tasked with a role of assessing research performance with the ultimate goal of reassuring ‘public’ accountability. The manifesto represents a serious and successful public-facing and comprehensible interpretation of the technical area of metrics which is understandable by a wide audience. It draws on state of the art knowledge on research metrics and is linked to an extensive range of international projects, publications, conferences, workshops and networks.
Presented as a distillation of best practice it is at the same time informed by core STS concepts about knowledge. It emphasises situatedness both in terms of different cognitive domains and research missions as well as the wider socioeconomic, national and regional context. It also engages with performativity and the way in which indicators can change the knowledge system itself.
The initiative is designed to influence evaluation practice rather than simply to critique it. This is an impressive effort to take specialised scientometric knowledge into a wide policy arena.
Much research evaluation practice and discourse is quite narrowly national in nature. This collaboration has turned it into a wider international European and global comversation. Its relevance to widely diverse national contexts is shown by the number of translations from Catalan to Chinese. It is generating a significant ‘impact’ through the creation of an extensive international network. Research evaluation is often treated in a technocratic and managerial fashion. This initiative promotes a more reflexive approach and recommends a coevolution approach.
John Ziman, President of EASST 1983-86 contributions to ‘public interaction’ involved a number of interventions on contemporary political aspects of science – social responsibility of scientists, expert conflict and innovation, freedom of scientists in the Soviet Union, and careers within the science system. They could be described as public actions aimed at politicians and scientists.
This initiative resonates with the Ziman tradition in being addressed to a broad interdisiplinary professional audience of evaluators and scientists on a visible public issue of research accountability.
The EASST Council (the elected body that runs our association) meets twice a year, last time in Munich in October and next in Copenhagen in April. Issues which are currently being discussed and progressed include:
Elections: the terms of office (normally 4 years) of the majority of Council members, and the President, come to an end this year. There will be a specific call for self-nominations and details of the election process later in the year. However, if you want to know more about the Council you can see the current members from our website at https://easst.net/about-easst/easst-council-members/ and read the constitution at https://easst.net/about-easst/easst-constitution/. If you want to know more, please contact our secretary via estrid.sorensen(at)rub.de or the president at president(at)easst.net
Current Conference: there has been a massive response to the call for papers with over 2,500 received. Track Conveners and the Scientific Committee are busy assessing these. Students from 4S and EASST are working together to put together a Postgraduate Workshop to procede the conference. Both EASST and 4S have funds to support the conference attendance of students and those at early career stage who have had papers accepted. To keep in touch with developments follow the conference website at http://www.sts2016bcn.org/ .
Future Conferences: a reminder that we issued a call for those interested in hosting EASST’s next conference in 2018 (or at a future date). Council will be discussing this at the beginning of April so please get in touch straightaway if you are interested but have not yet told us.
Membership: a reminder that our membership year ends on 30th Those members who have a Futurepay agreement to cover renewals will receive a reminder about this – and an opportunity to cancel if you want to. If you know that your credit card has been renewed or changed over the year let us know and we can tell you how to update it. Others will receive an invoice as normal. A reminder that membership offers a discount on conference registration rates.
Awards for collaborative activities: thanks for your nominations. Council is considering those and the awards will be made in Barcelona.
Science and Technology Studies: our peer reviewed online journal has a new editor Salla Sariola. Thanks to Sampsa Hyysalo, the outgoing editor, for all his hard work. The journal has increased its issues from 3 to 4 per year based on the quality and quantity of submissions. Council is discussing other developments including an open journal platform and a pre-publication repository.
Website: we are currently making some amendments to our website to make its format more compatible with mobile and tablet use. We will use this opportunity to make some other minor changes. Look out for our new site soon.
EASST Review: we are always keen to hear your news via submissions to EASST Review. To discuss this contact our editor at ignacio.farias(at)tum.de