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Waves: environment, excess, transformation 
Ignacio Farias (Humboldt University of Berlin)
Stefan Helmreich (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Waves flicker in today’s visions of environmental transformation. Consider heat, seismic, COVID, and tsunami waves or the vibrations of wireless communication, light pollution, and noise. Waves transform the world; this panel invites STS scholars to tune in to how, when, where, and with what logics.

Long Abstract:

Waves flicker in today’s visions of environmental transformation. Heat waves, seismic waves, COVID-19 waves, and tsunami waves are, for example, established figures of calamity. But the vibratory natures of many other environmental phenomena are often overlooked. Consider thermal stress, wireless communication, sea level rise, light pollution, nuclear waste, electromagnetic and ambient noise. Such waves not only suffuse our current predicaments, but also texture the slow violences of our day, ever on the verge of disastrous transformations, even breaks. Waves subtend environmental logics, stable and unstable, all the way through.

This panel is an invitation to a collective experiment in redescribing our environmental condition by means of ethnographic and speculative engagements with waves. Engaging „waves" both as specific environmental phenomena and as expansive conceptual figures of transformation might help us to overcome narratives that pose worlds-out-of-balance as excess; a potent temptation in disaster discourse, particularly during the so-called Anthropocene. Against the sublime cast of excess, waves offer a language to grasp specific shapes of environmental overflow. Waves also pose challenges to STS’s engagements with human and non-human entities, for waves and wave fields require us to go beyond an entity-oriented ontology. They demand that we reimagine space as propagation, that we grasp process beyond substance, and that we apprehend how knowledge is made at the nexus of the sensorial and the formal. Waves transform the world; STS can tune in to how, when, where, and with what logics.

We invite papers that engage with waves on many levels:

• Environmental phenomena involving mechanical and electromagnetic waves

• Wave (or wave-related) theories and concepts both in natural science, but also in the social sciences and humanities

• Artistic, multimodal and speculative renderings of wave experiences, imaginaries and ontologies

Accepted papers: