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Reassessing technology in illegal settings 
Óscar Moreno-Martínez (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana)
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Javier Guerrero-C (Universidad de los Andes)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

What kind of artifacts, practices and creativities emerge in these contexts of illegality? We want to inquire into the appropriateness of traditional STS research designs to the study of actors outside the law and to propose alternative views from the STS to the study of the illegal/illicit.

Long Abstract:

How does technology shape illegal settings and vice versa? And what type of illegality is constituted by these artifacts, practices, and creativities? The bulk of Science and Technology Studies (STS) in various geographies have concentrated on studying legal scientific and technological developments. Well-known case studies in STS have taken place in laboratories, museums, R&D offices, and other traditional locations; overlooking the backyards of illegality. These backyards might represent true breeding grounds for creativity and technology (Moreno-Martinez and Guerrero-Castro, 2020). The most influential STS contributions have as their object of analysis some of the traditional spaces in which scientific or technological research is carried out. Addressing technology in illegal settings requires also overcoming the State matrix. The social sciences have used mainly a state perspective to produce knowledge about the actions of those considered deviant, criminal, outside the law, among others (Gootenberg, 2005). Focusing on this State matrix means prioritizing a security vision of the problem. In doing so, many have produced views that construct dualistic divisions that separate practices/artifacts considered destructive, undesirable, or hostile from the rest of society. In this panel we want to study the implications for STS of the idea of legality/illegality. We first want to inquire into the appropriateness of research methods and designs to the study of actors who move outside the law. Secondly, to provide a space to think about the conceptual lenses that have been used to analyse this type of phenomena, either by the social sciences that take from the state the binary divisions between good/bad, lawful/illegal, or by the difficulty of applying the dictum of the STS to this type of objects, and finally to propose alternative views from the STS to the gaze of the state towards these phenomena.

Accepted papers: