CISP Online

Blog of the Centre for Invention & Social Process, Goldsmiths

April 10, 2017
by Baki Cakici

CISP Salon 2016/17 Review: STS Then and Now

Throughout the history of the Centre for Invention and Social Process at Goldsmiths, the CISP Salon has been a venue for academic discussion across disciplines, with an evolving format decided according to the needs of the science and technology studies (STS) community by a rotating group of organisers.

During the 2016 Autumn and 2017 Spring terms, we were given the opportunity to lead the CISP Salon, which we structured as four reading groups. As the Spring term draws to a close and we prepare to hand over the Salon responsibility, we wanted to briefly reflect on our Salon experience.

We strove to compose an outward looking programme to reach STS scholars and interested readers with different levels of experience and different disciplinary backgrounds. We wanted to provide a platform for not only academic discussion of texts, but one that could also serve as an introduction to STS ideas for those who had not encountered the field before.

We titled our 2016/17 Salon series “STS Then and Now”. With the four reading group meetings, we wanted to make connections between the early years of STS and the recent theoretical and empirical work that draws on that rich history. Our ‘Then’ texts were drawn primarily from 1980s and 1990s, while our ‘Now’ texts were from the last two years.

We organised each Salon under a theme (you can find a list of all the discussed papers at the end of this post). The first one dealt with cyborgs, discussing Donna Haraway’s seminal text together with Nelly Oudshoorn’s recent work on pacemakers. In the second salon, we discussed situated practice, starting with Lucy Suchman’s contributions, and following it with Sara Grimes’ research on configuring the child user.  We began the third salon with Susan Leigh Star’s work to understand the methodological issues surrounding the study of infrastructure, and we discussed how these issues inform Joan Donovan’s study of social movements and communications infrastructure. Finally, in the fourth salon, we discussed postcolonial frames for studying of science and technology, starting with Sandra Harding’s “Is Science Multicultural?” to understand and question claims of universal science, and continuing with how these questions inform Lindsay Adams Smith’s study of DNA identification.

Organising the CISP Salon allowed us to meet new scholars with similar interests, and also gave us an opportunity to connect with colleagues. We believe that it is important to continue demonstrating the links between STS concepts from their initial conception to their current use, especially to encourage new readers and new readings.

In closing, we would also like to acknowledge the third member of our group, Naho Matsuda, who designed the posters for all four salons. We received many compliments on the visual design of the posters, and we cannot thank Naho enough for her contribution to the success of the Salon series.


Baki Cakici & Jess Perriam


salon-01-cyborgs cisp salon 2 - sts then and now - configuration

CISP Salon - Infrastructures cisp salon 4 - postcolonial sts


Haraway, D.J., 1991. A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge, 149–181.
Oudshoorn, N., 2016. The Vulnerability of Cyborgs: The Case of ICD Shocks. Science, Technology & Human Values 41, 767–792.

Suchman, L., 1987. “Human-Machine Communication”, in Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge University Press.
Grimes, S.M., 2015. Configuring the Child Player. Science, Technology & Human Values 40, 126-148.

Star, S. L. 1999. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American Behavioral Scientist 43 (3): 377–91.
Donovan, J., 2016. “Can You Hear Me Now?” Phreaking the Party Line from Operators to Occupy. Information, Communication & Society 19, 601–617.

Postcolonial STS
Harding, S.G., 1994. Is Science Multicultural?: Challenges, Resources, Opportunities, Uncertainties. Configurations 2, 301–330.
Smith, L.A., 2016. Identifying Democracy: Citizenship, DNA, and Identity in Postdictatorship Argentina. Science, Technology, & Human Values 41, 1037–1062.

March 13, 2017
by Baki Cakici

CISP Salon: Postcolonial STS (Mar 15, 2017)

cisp salon 4 - postcolonial sts

CISP Salon: STS Then & Now – Postcolonial STS
March 15 (Wednesday) 2017
3:00pm-5:00pm, Warmington Tower 1204

Over the past 40 years, Science and Technology Studies (STS) has grown with contributions from many disciplines, sometimes leading to complicated genealogies concerning its many theoretical commitments. During the Autumn and Spring terms, we will meet to discuss two texts in conversation with each other to trace how theories and methods have changed over time. With this reinvention of the CISP Salon, we aim to offer an entry point to STS for those new to the field, as well as providing a new discussion for those familiar with the literature.

At the fourth CISP Salon on Wednesday March 15, we will discuss texts that use postcolonial frames for studying of science and technology. We will begin with Harding’s “Is Science Multicultural?” to understand and question claims of universal science. We will then discuss how these questions inform Smith’s study of DNA identification. The required reading is as follows:

  1. Harding, S.G., 1994. Is Science Multicultural?: Challenges, Resources, Opportunities, Uncertainties. Configurations 2, 301–330.
  2. Smith, L.A., 2016. Identifying Democracy: Citizenship, DNA, and Identity in Postdictatorship Argentina. Science, Technology, & Human Values 41, 1037–1062.

Please contact Baki Cakici ( or Jess Perriam ( for any queries. We look forward to seeing you!

February 15, 2017
by CISP Administrator

How to Make an Archive Travel? The Launch of the WAL App

WAL App Launch Event

Poster design by Naho Matsuda.

This event marks the official launch of the Women’s Art Library (WAL) App. The launch provides an occasion for women artists, academics, students and all other members of the interested public to engage with materials from the archive, learn more about the Women’s Art Library and also try on the Wal App with devices provided by the Library.

The WAL App is part of a project called How to Make an Archive Travel? led by Ana-Maria Herman (Research Associate at the Women’s Art Library and Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Invention and Social Process). For more information about the project visit or follow updates on Twitter @archivetravels.

Friday, 3rd March, 2017 17:30 – 19:30

Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths Library

March also marks Women’s History Month and this event precedes International Women’s Day on the 8th. We therefore see the launch of the WAL App as fitting for the month of March – a time to consider and celebrate women’s lives and work.

Please register at Eventbrite to attend. Queries can be sent to

February 3, 2017
by CISP Administrator

This is the Modern World?

This is the Modern World?

An expedition through the REF and other ‘neoliberal’ times

Inaugural lecture by Daniel Neyland

In collaboration with Vera Ehrenstein and Sveta Milyaeva

What times do we live in and how should we get through them? To address this question I suggest using Latour’s notion of The Modern as a departure point for an expedition through the devices of ‘neoliberalism’ (a term that loses as much as it gains through usage). From emissions trading, advance market commitments, to social impact bonds, we will explore how these devices anticipate a pure and linear time of progress, only to be overwhelmed by hybridity and plurality. Our final destination on the expedition will be a device in which we are reflexively complicit: the REF. I will suggest that here a time of progress is sustained, but only through a curious form of relativism.

Tuesday, 21st February, 2017 17.30 – 19.30

Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Goldsmiths.


January 9, 2017
by CISP Administrator

Experimenting in the Plural. A Report on the Workshop “The New Experimentalisms”

By Kim Kullmann

The Workshop The New Experimentalisms, held on September 21st 2016 at CISP was organised in response to an expanding cross-disciplinary interest in experimentation as a mode of enquiry. While contemporary experimentalisms draw on a range of resources, from laboratory ethnographies in Science and Technology Studies to the early urban research of the Chicago School, such work is united in the assumption that knowing the world necessarily participates in its coming into being (see Guggenheim 2012; Kullman 2013). Instead of settling with empirical description, then, experimenters compose various types of devices and set-ups to induce new variations in phenomena, so as to bring out their transformative potential. As the workshop conveners Alex Wilkie, Dan Neyland and Michael Guggenheim maintained in their opening statement, a key aim for the meeting would be to trace out, compare and critique these emerging styles of experimental enquiry in order to develop a clearer understanding of their possibilities.

The four speakers and commentators came from various disciplinary backgrounds, including anthropology, computer science, design and sociology, as well as discussed a broad assortment of topics, from the politics of design and collaborative ethnography to environmental protection and sensor technology. Although it is not possible to do justice to the intricate arguments of each presenter in this brief account, several themes stood out as relevant to the purposes of the workshop and current scholarship in the area.

Starting the proceedings, Pelle Ehn combined insights from the Scandinavian tradition of participatory design with science and technology studies and the philosophy of John Dewey to argue that design is well-placed to change the conditions for communal life by staging arrangements that invite collectives to actively problematise their material environments. As Ehn argued, creating and sustaining such arrangements requires abandoning overly normative approaches and recognising the plural character of experimentation, whose ingredients and workings tend to vary from one site to another. This claim resonates with recent warnings against the reduction of experimentation to the omnipresent figure of the laboratory, as this might make it difficult to understand the proliferation of real-world experiments, which are often based on notions of chance and control that differ from laboratory settings (see Guggenheim 2012).

Other, closely related issues were explored by Tomas Sanchez Criado, whose work rethinks contemporary forms of collaborative ethnography through various types of “fieldwork devices” that forge novel links between research and practice, in this case anthropology and accessible design. For Sanchez Criado, experimentation builds on a set of evolving, productive constraints as well as on a careful documentation of the process of enquiry, so that it becomes possible to make explicit its various and often surprising outcomes. Although experimentation is a situated practice shaped by unexpected occurrences, as Ehn claimed, attentive documentation guarantees that new knowledges are produced and shared during and after the process, which will enable those involved to trace out and examine the successes and failures of their changing set-ups.

Claire Waterton argued for a wider recognition of nonhuman entities—for example, blue-green algae and their lake environment—as active participants in experiments with political collectives. According to Waterton, contemporary issues require a lengthy process of experimentation with set-ups of human and nonhuman materials that are allowed to change one another in unforeseen ways to articulate new, politically transformative commonalities and differences. Here, experimentation takes place “with” rather than “on” nonhumans and appears as an uncertain and fragile practice, which not only invites us to think beyond divisions between experts and laypersons but also to look for ways to multiply the entities considered as relevant for the political process.

The final presenter, Tobias Bornakke Jorgensen, highlighted the ethical complications of experimental research by describing a cross-disciplinary project, which used sensor data from the smartphones of 1,000 Danish students to map their everyday interactions in time and space. Jorgensen indicated that experimentation can be a demanding approach, especially in large-scale studies, when set-ups are managed across multiple sites and together with colleagues from disparate disciplines, whose methodological assumptions about experimentation might vary. A particular challenge is therefore how to conduct research in a manner that allows for diverse experimentalisms to co-exist and that attends to potential ethical issues stemming from their differences and similarities.

Although the four presenters addressed experimenting in the plural, they appeared to share the basic premise of the practice as a collaborative creation of devices and set-ups, whereby researchers can begin to investigate the conditions for the production of novelty. For this reason, a central question taking shape during the workshop was whether it would be possible to evaluate the novelty of such interventions. Given the questionable uses of experimentation in earlier social science and its ethically suspect aspiration for control and neutrality, an alternative approach seemed to suggest itself—one that was less invested in developing a standard method than in cultivating new methodological sensibilities and recording their evolution throughout the research process (see Latour 2004). Such a minimal approach might allow an experiment to remain sufficiently open to creative adaptation, while also ensuring that its novelty is critically assessed through ongoing documentation and comparison with other experiments.


Guggenheim, M. (2012) Laboratizing and de-laboratizing the world: changing sociological concepts for places of knowledge production. History of the Human Sciences, 25: 99–118.

Kullman, K. (2013) Geographies of experiment / Experimental geographies: a rough guide. Geography Compass, 7: 879-894.

Latour, B. (2004) Politics of nature. How to bring the sciences into democracy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.