STS Across Borders: From 4S Boston 2017 towards 4S Sydney 2018

— Hined Rafeh, Kim Fortun —

One of the events that kicked off the 4S Boston conference was STS Across Borders, an informal meeting held by incoming 4S President Kim Fortun to provide a space for scholars from different regions and networks to meet, discuss their different histories, and think about ways 4S can effectively engage across borders of different kinds, and with global issues.  The room filled up within minutes, requiring us to move into a larger room to accommodate the great show of support and interest.

Clearly, STS Across Borders is a long term project, but for now a key focus is on 4S 2018 in Sydney, where the theme will be TRANSnational STS.  At this meeting there will be curated exhibits showcasing different STS genealogies, as well as cross-cutting themes and issues.

In Boston, Kim presented the idea of using digital shadow boxes as way to archive and display different histories and genealogies of STS.  These shadow boxes can include  oral history interviews, timelines, and material from workshops or other events that were formative in a particular research community.  Kim also explained how reference to an ever-growing, shared set of questions can facilitate comparisons across STS genealogies.  Participating groups can also help build a shared bibliography (established by Aalok Khandekar at Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad),  representing and supporting critical engagement with STS Across Borders.

The Boston discussion about STS Across Borders was lively, with both junior and senior scholars posing questions, offering ideas, and raising concerns about, for example, language barriers, resources, and ways of coordinating and sustaining the work. The discussion also explored ways to showcase both regional and thematic formations of STS – with ideas for shadowboxes focused on Postcolonial STS, Feminist STS and the History of Technology, as well as on Latin American STS, Indian STS, and so on.

Kim also explained how work on exhibits for Sydney (with both online and live components) can lay ground for a durable 4S archive that preserves and encourages research on the history of STS and 4S as an organization.

Along with the rest of the program committee, Kim Fortun and I look forward to everyone joining us at the 4S TRANSnational STS Annual Conference, August 29-September 1, 2018 at the Sydney International Convention Centre. Make sure to check out our developing website with 16 (and growing!) translations of the conference theme.  Also follow 4sSyndey on Twitter!