The aim of this panel is to explore the theme of "STS by other means" by focusing on different practices of maintenance and repair. In so doing, the panel aims to open a way to rethink how we investigate the material politics and vulnerability of different expert and mundane sociotechnical systems.
Maintenance and repair constitute an ideal object to do STS by other means as practices that urge us to broaden the traditional focus on practices of production and innovation (Graham & Thrift 2007; Jackson 2014). The aim of this track is to explore the largely invisible and ungrateful work of maintenance and repair not only as a means of opening a new way of thinking the material politics and vulnerability of different sociotechnical systems but also as a way of forcing us to rethink how we study breakdowns in STS, moving beyond the usual opposition between broken and unbroken systems.
Several studies have already foregrounded the variety of the situations and domains in which maintenance and repair occur: architectural preservation (Edensor 2012); art conservation (Dominguez Rubio 2013); the mundane repair activities we carry out at home (Gregson, et al., 2009); the process of infrastructures maintenance (Graham 2010; Denis & Pontille 2014); the maintenance of ICT ecologies (Jackson, et al. 2011); or the "regular" repair operations performed by technicians (Orr 1996; Henke 2000). This panel will address such a diversity by asking: How do these practices shape different political, economical and technical issues? How can we specify the practical, material and technological configurations that organize different "maintenance regimes"?
We expect contributions from a wide range of scholars working at the intersection of arts, architecture, urban studies, media studies, organization studies, and STS. The panel will welcome innovative contributions such as movies, artistic performances or repair workshops, in addition to regular paper presentations.