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P110


Microbial methods and practices for doing STS otherwise 
Convenors:
Maya Hey (Centre for the Social Study of Microbes, University of Helsinki)
Salla Sariola (University of Helsinki)
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Format:
Combined Format Open Panel
Location:
HG-11A22
Sessions:
Thursday 18 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Amsterdam
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Short Abstract:

What STS methods — including tools and methodological frameworks — can detect, document, and make sense of microbes? What are their affordances and limitations? And how can these social scientific methods expand the ways in which microbes are studied? This panel examines situated methods-in-action.

Long Abstract:

What STS methods—including tools and methodological frameworks—can detect, document, and make sense of microbes? What are their affordances and limitations? And how can these social scientific methods expand the ways in which microbes are studied? This panel examines situated methods-in-action.

For centuries, microbial knowledge has developed in tandem with advances in biomedical and technoscientific apparatuses. While scholars of microbial STS have—and can continue to—collaborate with scientists and laboratories, a broader social scientific inquiry into microbes has come to a point where there is a need to develop our own methodological tools and encourage transformations from within. Given the so-called microbial turn in STS and adjacent fields, an ontological reckoning of/through microbes warrants a critical engagement with methodological questions.

This panel takes up the doing of methods as its problem knot, with attention to how and whether novel methods work in microbial inquiry. The panel brings together two foci: (1) experimental and sensory methods, and (2) practices like fermenting and composting that offer analytical insights of-and-with microbes. Both foci engage with how to go about studying microbes in social scientific settings, with some approaches relying on direct contact (e.g., making pickles, tasting them) for microbes to matter, while other approaches rely on analytical proxies (e.g., non-potable water, an unhealthy body, a fallow field) to indicate microbial presence, their metabolisms, or their transformative effects. With these diverse approaches in mind, this panel decenters laboratory studies, as well as anthropocentric, eurocentric, ocularcentric, and verbocentric modes of engaging with microbes.

We invite paper presentations, but in the spirit of doing methods otherwise, we also welcome multimodal formats (e.g., embodied and experiential workshops, demonstrations of in-progress prototypes, on-site/real-time performances) that can be implemented within the time/space of the panel. We are also in conversation with Micropia to plan additional activities on their premises.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -