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Three people stand in a park in the foreground of a protest holding signs. The first sign reads, "I'm vaccinated against COVID-19, but not against white supremacy." The second sign reads, "Hate crimes against Asians are real." The third sign reads, "We belong here."

Naming the Virus, Becoming the Virus: Affective Forces of Threat from Hà Nội to Atlanta and the Possibility for Anti-Racist Solidarities

“Chống dịch như chống giặc” (“Fight the pandemic like an invader”) has become Vietnam’s slogan in its battle against COVID-19. From the pandemic’s onset until April 2021, Vietnam performed exceptionally in halting the viral spread and preventing deaths from COVID-19. While COVID-19’s origin remains contested, Vietnam’s 1,306km border with China posed an acute risk during the first wave in early 2020. Defying odds, Vietnam kept the virus at bay. With a low case load and death count between Jan 2020 – June 2020, Vietnam stood out from its northern neighbor, China, as well as other European countries and the United States. Simply crediting Vietnam’s success to an authoritarian regime misses a deeper distrust of the Chinese government within Vietnam. This distrust stems from the historical colonization of China over Vietnam and imminent military and sovereignty threats posed in the East Sea (or the South China Sea) over the Spratly and Paracel Islands. (read more...)

A woman with shoulder length hair stands facing a wall projection of pink tear gas canisters in a blue bucket.

Knowledge Production, Toxic Corporate Capital, and the Anthropologist’s Entangled Ethics

The dominant disciplinary literature on cultures and practices of extractivism relies on a separation of “the field,” and the insights gained there, from our professional lives as anthropologists in an academy culturally and socially situated in the “Global North.” Increasingly, such distinctions fail to hold as the consequences of extractivism and the conflicts that it produces arrive at the doorstep of the anthropologist’s place of work. I wrote this piece as I grappled with how to frame the effects of toxicity from gold mining in ways that fully accounted for its vast reach beyond “the field” and beyond the material forms (gaseous, liquid, sludgy, in blood levels, as illness symptoms) that I expected it to take. In grappling with the extensive nature of mining toxicity, events occurred to shift my attention to the transnational webs of capital, and the forms of life such toxicity generates. I began to ask: Beyond (read more...)

A shot from a zoom meeting containing six people and a banner reading STS Futures Initiative

Spotlight! “Global STS: Transnational Network Building – Asia, Oceania, and Beyond” hosted by the STS Futures Initiative

This week as part of our “ReAssembling Asias through Science” series, we would like to highlight an event held by the STS Futures Initiative last month. This panel (whose second part is forthcoming this fall) brought together a range of academics and graduate students to engage substantively with what might be termed a ‘global turn’ in STS scholarship, characterized by a greater attention to knowledge production and scientific practices outside of Europe and North America. Interested in both the theoretical possibilities of, as well as the practical aspects and skills necessary for transnational network building, the panel raised a range of questions around the possibilities for and challenges inherent to collaborative research and forms of decolonial practice and knowledge production across institutional and national contexts. As moderator Dr. Kathleen Gutierrez put it in her opening remarks, “Who is doing the work? And more importantly, who is building the networks with other STS inclined scholars in the world areas in which we work?” [0:01:18]. (read more...)

Aerial image of crossroads whereby people cross the street using three zebra crossings.Two are crossed between each other, the third zebra crossing is horizontal, located under the crossed two zebra crossings.

Key Insights for Thinking and Doing Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Work: Contributions from Latin America

In April 2021, the First ESOCITE-LALICS Conference took place, albeit virtually. This was the first virtual Conference organized with the collaboration of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y Tecnología (ESOCITE) and Red Latinoamericana para el Estudio de los Sistemas de Aprendizaje, Innovación y Construcción de Competencias (LALICS). Importantly, the two organizations have different profiles: if LALICS aims to deepen the links between innovation processes, national/regional development, innovation systems, learning processes, and capacity building in the region, ESOCITE’s goal is to strengthen linkages across members of the community of social studies of science and technology in Latin America. (read more...)

Picture of a shooting location with camera equipment and crew

Days of Their Lives: The Limits, Possibilities, and Parallels of Media-Ted Research during a Pandemic

On a regular day, a Hindi soap opera production set in Mumbai is home to upwards of 100 artists and technicians – production associates, actors, make-up artists, costume artists, lighting technicians, assistant directors, creatives, and spot boys.  Their collective efforts ensure that audiences have new episodes to look forward to daily. Come rain, hail, or shine, through collaborations and conflicts, together they build melodramatic worlds that entertain millions of households in India. But what happens when the meaning of “regular” is redefined? What happens when even two become a crowd? When the first wave of COVID-19 hit Mumbai in March 2020, it brought, among other things, the Hindi soap opera industry to a halt. Daily production activities of soap operas across channels were abruptly paused. Sets had to be abandoned in haste when a citywide lockdown was announced. The absence of film work meant that workers would go without payments (read more...)

note on a street pole that says The Future is Unwritten

Entrepreneurship and Emergent Technologies: From Predicting to Creating the Future

What is the motivator, what inspires us?” Stephen discusses with his teammate. “The reason is contribution, contribution to the world and to the future. It is about the new. We want to make a strong impact in the world and we want to create happiness with our app. So, let’s use our technology for something that is new. I believe in it and I know we can create a better world in the future with it. Tech entrepreneurs like Stephen start from nothing but an idea in a pitch deck, which over time then is supposed to materialize into a business. Developing their digital businesses, they attempt to create a successful venture in the future. In this process, the future is a reoccurring issue since they ongoingly discuss what the future might look like and how they can influence it. While conducting ethnographic research for the last two years in a startup accelerator, my team and I became interested in understanding issues of time and temporality such as the phenomenon of “acceleration” (Skade et al., 2020). (read more...)

Showing the syphilis bacteria under the microscope

Swarming Syphilis: On the Reality of Data

(Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of the Thematic Series Data Swarms Revisited) Syphilis, an infection caused by the bacterium treponema pallidum, is an important disease. It starts as a skin lesion and develops until it deforms bones, compromises the central nervous system, and ultimately causes death. During pregnancy, the disease can also be transmitted from mother to child. It has accompanied our species at least since the Renaissance and generated various innovations in modern science throughout this history. It helped give rise to serology through the Wasserman Reaction (Fleck 2010), the first detection test, and it was crucial for the consolidation of somatological perspectives of mental illnesses in psychiatry (Carrara and Carvalho 2010). Due to sexual transmission of the disease, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it became the evil venereal illness par excellence in restrictive sexual regimes (Fleck 2010; Quetel 1986). Since that time, syphilis has laid the foundations for codes of social conduct and even for ideas of the “self” in western societies, for example in criminalizing prostitution (Carrara 1996; Bastos 2007) and shaping contagion theories and its relations of body-subject (Echeverría 2010). (read more...)

A restored section of Swedish Archbishop, writer, and cartographer Olaus Magnus' map of Scandanavia. The map features red buildings dotting the land, a ship caught in a whirlpool, and a sea serpent attacking a ship, among other mythical land and sea creatures.

Maps as Cultural Objects

In the Digital Age, maps are closer to us than ever before—a quick tap on a smartphone and you’re off to the nearest Starbucks for a quick coffee stop. Like other popular technologies, maps are critical tools that we use to interact with and understand the world around us. They are simplified depictions of our surroundings, crafted from human experience and made for a purpose. Maps cannot be disconnected from the minds and cultures that decide what to depict, where, and how. Purely factual tools of navigation on the surface, maps transmit and reinforce cultural understandings of our place in the world. (read more...)