Relocating Science and Technology. Global Knowledge, Traveling Technologies and Postcolonialism. Perspectives on Science and Technology Studies in the Global South

Relocating Science and Technology. Global Knowledge, Traveling Technologies and Postcolonialism. Perspectives on Science and Technology Studies in the Global South

Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung; organisiert durch Richard Rottenburg (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology/Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg); Norman Schräpel (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg); Vincent Duclos (University of Montreal)
From - Until
19.07.2012 - 20.07.2012
Norman Schräpel

As an interdisciplinary endeavour to study knowledge systems and technologies, Science and Technology Studies (STS) have become popular within the humanities and social sciences over the last three decades. However, most of the canon as well as recent scholarly work concentrate on Euro-American techno-science. Social scientists involved in STS focused mainly on the centres of western scientific knowledge production, thereby neglecting large parts of the world. While the relationship between technoscientific knowledge and postcolonial orders has been the subject of increasing discussion within the last two decades (Seth 2009), it is only recently that scholars have tried to establish a more sustained dialogue with postcolonial perspectives on science and technology (Harding 1998; Anderson 2002; Redfield 2002; Rottenburg 2009; Philip, Irani & Dourish 2011). In 2008, Richard Rottenburg, Trevor Pinch, Otto Sibum and Suman Seth organized a conference on Places of Knowledge: Relocating Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. This workshop is a follow-up to this meeting. By focusing on the concept of the ‘Global South’ in conjunction with that of ‘postcolonialism’ we wish to draw attention to ever more globalizing dynamics of power, fashion, money or institutional problematizations. Accordingly, the workshop asserts the need to relocate STS by re-considering the interconnectedness of knowledge production, technology design and transfer, geopolitical categories and the particular issues, that different contexts produce. It is our contention that perspectives from the Global South may contribute not so much in describing nation states or specific regions in a historical moment, but enable us to better understand the interconnected processes that drive science and technology within a globalized world. We particularly call for contributions and participants that focus on non-classical STS contexts (i.e. the Global South). Contributions with case studies from Africa, Latin America and Asia are expected to challenge or at least to comment on existing methodological and theoretical concepts within STS. Taking the interstitial spaces in global networks of science and technology production as a starting point we especially encourage contributions on the following themes:

We are interested in exploring the ways in which science, technology and place are interconnected. This involves the analysis of power relations, patterns of networks or the ways technology and knowledge travels. Topics covered will include, but are not limited to:
- The linkages between global capital flows, economic growth, and the emergence of local technoscientific practices (in biomedicine, IT, agriculture etc.).
- How relations between different epistemic communities are reshaping the map of global knowledge production.
- The reconfiguration of the experiences of space, proximity, or belonging triggering by technologies apparently ‘flattening’ the world through constant expansion.

The involvement of historical events and developments play a crucial role in understanding today’s knowledge and technical systems. We would like to produce a diachronic perspective from contexts in Africa, South America and Asia on topics like:
- The impact of colonial legacies on current technoscientific practices
- Postcolonial dependencies and knowledge production
- Perspectives on the History of Sciences in the Global South

Context and practice is at the heart of a social science perspective on Science and Technology. Especially in the Global South scholarly work on locality is lacking. We would like to bring a number of studies together that may concentrate on the following and other topics:
- The incommensurability and invisibility of other cultures of science
- A critical outlook on the participation of STS in development aid
- The multiple uses or misuses or science and technology in development agendas (ICT4D, e-governance etc.)

Submission of Abstracts & Participation
Keynote speakers will be invited and announced in late February 2012 on the website of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology ( Please send your abstracts (250 words) before 15 March 2012 to Bettina Mann ( and Norman Schräpel ( You will receive a notification of acceptance in April 2012. The deadline for papers of approximately 5.000 words is 15 June 2012. Travel costs will be covered for all presenters, who send in their papers in time.
There is no registration fee, however the number of participants is limited. If you are interested in joining the workshop as a participant on your own account, please register with Bettina Mann ( by 15 June 2012 at the latest.

Link to complete Call for Papers:


Contact (announcement)

Norman Schräpel

Reichardtstr. 11