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Creative partners? Repositioning the arts in transdisciplinary collaborations 
Veerle Spronck (HKU University of the Arts Utrecht)
Peter Peters (Maastricht University)
Denise Petzold (Maastricht University)
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Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

In transdisciplinary collaborations, the arts are often instrumentalized as “creative partners” rather than practices that can interrupt, slow down, and interrogate. This panel explores the practices of artists, designers, and artistic researchers to inspire STS to rethink the position of the arts.

Long Abstract:

Recently, transdisciplinary collaborations play an important role in research on societal transformations and processes. Examples are the rise of generative AI (Faisal, 2023) or issues of sustainability and climate change (Rödder, 2016). These transdisciplinary projects often promise to address societal challenges by creating more ‘robust’ and democratic knowledge, for example through alternative modes of knowledge production that bring researchers and societal actors together (Schikowitz, 2020). Given the range of scholarly disciplines and (societal) stakeholders involved, however, tensions, difficulties, and conflicts are inevitable (Felt, Igelsböck, Schikowitz, & Völker, 2016). While scholars in Science and Technology Studies (STS) can explain how these problems emerge and play out, the aim of synthesizing different bodies of knowledge and solving such conflicts and tensions remains.

In such transdisciplinary collaborations, the arts are often seen as “creative partners” for cooperation. They are for example expected to facilitate the communication between societal stakeholders, or act as vehicles for social critique or commentary. In this panel, we propose to see the arts not as “instrument” or “creative solution-producer". Rather, we ask how the arts can inspire transdisciplinary practice, proposing that the arts are at the core of the very societal transitions that transdisciplinary collaborations seek to address. We re-attend to the arts as practices that can interrupt, distract, deviate, slow down, create discomfort, interrogate, problematise, and confront. By doing so, we critically address the conflict-solving approach that STS scholars have attached to transdisciplinary projects.

In this combined open panel, we therefore not only invite papers, we explicitly invite artists, (social) designers, musicians, writers, and artistic researchers to share their proposals for workshops, experiments, prototypes, performances, or other artistic inventions too. Together, we aim to explore methods, ways of attending, and collaborative work practices that can inspire STS researchers to rethink the position of the arts in transdisciplinary projects.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3