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Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)

Boston, Massachusetts

Wed. August 30 (11am!) – Sat. September 2, 2017 (5:30pm)

View a photo album from the Boston Meeting!

Video Playlist

Note the playlist menu in the upper left corner.

Conference theme: STS (In)Sensibilities

If sensibility is the ability to grasp and to respond, how might we articulate the (in)sensibilities of contemporary technoscience?  How, similarly, can we reflect on the extent and limits of our own sensibilities as STS scholars, teachers, and activists?  The conference theme invites an open reading and exploration of how the world is made differently sense-able through multiple discourses and practices of knowledge-making, as well as that which evades the sensoria of technoscience and STS.  Our aim is that the sense of ‘sense’ be read broadly, from mediating technologies of perception and apprehension to the discursive and material practices that render worlds familiar and strange, real and imagined, actual and possible, politically (in)sensitive and ethically sensible.

We welcome open panel and closed session proposals, individual paper submissions, and proposals for events that are innovative in their delivery, organization, range of topics, and type of public.  Due to the growing number of submissions and our desire to be as inclusive as possible, each participant will be strictly limited to only one paper or media presentation and one other activity (such as session chair or discussant), for a maximum of two appearances. Participation in the Making and Doing event (see below) is not counted toward this limit.

Join the discussion

Twitter: Use the hashtag #4S2017 when tweeting from the meeting. We will be monitoring the feed and retweeting.

Facebook: mention @4SPage in your post. We’ll share selected posts.


A final program is now available. You can browse the interactive program or download the abbreviated PDF (8/17, 1 MB) or the complete PDF (4MB). You can also download the basic program with abstracts.  If you find a problem with the listing of your name or affiliation, please log into the membership site, Manage Profile, and Edit Bio. This information will be synced to the online program within 30 minutes.

Meeting Highlights


Friday, September 1, Sheraton, from 7:30-10:30pm

Seats are limited. To register, log in at 4smembers.org > Manage Profile > Event Registrations > edit registration

Great, Boston area food. The banquet will offer 4 buffets including the North End (Italian), the Waterfront (local seafood), China Town, and Southie (classic comfort food New England style). There will be plenty of vegetarian options throughout.

The Goza Latin Jazz Band will be playing for us from 8:30 to 10:30, featuring Afro Cuban and salsa music – you can read more about them and see some videos at their website.

Presidential Plenary – Interrogating ‘the Threat’

Wednesday August 30th

A critical conversation regarding what we should be concerned about, as both STS scholars and members of wider publics

Plenary – Opportunities and Challenges for an Engaged STS

Friday, September 1

An interactive conversation about what we are and could be doing as STS scholars, within and beyond the academy

Awards Plenary

Thursday, August 31

Participants in the 4S 2017 Awards Plenary

Invited Session: Reproductive Justice and Injustice

Friday, September 1

Bridging scholarship and activism, this special session will take up critical issues of reproductive justice and injustice here in Boston and around the globe

Invited Session: Making Sense of Data Revolutions

Saturday, September 2

A moderated discussion on data ethics, media technologies, and optimistic futures

Making and Doing Presentations

Thursday August 31

The Making and Doing Exhibition returns! This interactive event highlights scholarly practices for producing and expressing STS knowledge and expertise that extend beyond the academic paper or book. By increasing the extent to which 4S members learn from one another about practices they have developed and enacted, the initiative seeks to improve the effectiveness and influence of STS scholarship beyond the field and/or to expand the modes of STS knowledge production.

Ethnografilm Dailies

A selection of short films from the most recent Ethnografilm festival in Paris, France. View descriptions here.

Affiliated Events

Pre-conference Meeting: STS in China: Past, Present, Future

Monday, August 28, 2:00-4:00pm
MIT, Bldg. E51 Room 095, Amherst St., Cambridge
Organizer:           Kim Fortun (kfortun@uci.edu)

This informal pre-meeting will provide an opportunity for dialogue with STS scholars in and focused on China, aiming to draw out different STS genealogies and foci, critical contextual factors, key challenges, and plans for the future.  All are welcome.

Pre-conference Meeting: STS Across Borders

Wednesday, August 30, 9:15-10:45am
Beacon D, Boston Sheraton Hotel
Organizer: Kim Fortun (kfortun@uci.edu)

This informal, pre-meeting will be provide an opportunity for STS scholars from different regions and networks to meet, and learn about  different STS contexts, genealogies and approaches.  Participants are invited to contribute reference material in advance, addressing preliminary queries that will help draw out critical differences and comparisons, shared concerns, and possibilities for collaboration.  Contributed material will be curated and shared in advance of the meeting. The meeting will lay ground for continued dialogue and planning — focused, in part, on the 4S 2018 meetings in Sydney, where the theme will be Transnational STS.  To contribute material for this meeting, contact Kim Fortun (kfortun@uci.edu).  All are welcome to attend.

Non-Academic Career Paths: A Pre-Conference Workshop

Tuesday, August 29, 8:30am-3:00pm

A free workshop for graduate students and recent PhDs to learn about careers beyond academia and how to prepare for them.

Enacting Environmental Data Justice:  A 4S Pre-Meeting Event

Tuesday, August 29, 4-8pm

As the new presidential administration threatens to curtail environmental agencies and their infrastructures of data collection, a powerful grassroots movement has formed to archive and protect federally-maintained datasets and associated curated information. You are invited to attend an experimental workshop titled Enacting Environmental Data Justice.

4S 2017 Welcome Demonstration

As part of our initiative to welcome international conference participants to Boston, a group of us will be staging a Welcome Demonstration at Boston’s Logan Airport on Tuesday August 29th, from 5:30-7:30pm.

Impossible to Simply Continue Along Previous Lines: Changing Life in Times of Crisis

Tuesday, August 29, 8:30am – 8:30pm

The one-day workshop will create spaces, interactions, and support that help extend our projects of inquiry and engagement around changing life in times of crisis.

Film Screening: Healing Fukushima

Thursday, August 31, 6-8pm

Sulfikar Amir will be screening his documentary film called Healing Fukushima at MIT following the Making and Doing event. Mike Fischer is hosting the screening and chairing the after-screening discussion. Three speakers will discuss the film, including Scott Knowles (Drexel), Masashi Shirabe (Tokyo Tech), and Kim Fortun (Rensselaer, to be confirmed). . Check out the film trailer and full synopsis.

Mentorship Program

The Mentorship Program has become a popular part of the 4S conference. The goal of the program is to exchange ideas with junior scholars and support their career development. A mentoring relationship assumes a minimum of one conversation at the 4S conference. It is hoped that mentoring relationships will also continue with at least two follow-up phone calls or emails during the following 12 months. We will match new scholars with more experienced scholars and make an effort to assign mentors outside of one’s university. We hope that the mentoring project will allow new scholars to feel more at home in the STS community.

Visit the Mentorship Program registration page for more information and to sign up.

4S Monitoring Travel Ban and Boycotts

4S has published a statement on the rapidly evolving U.S. political situation, reaffirming the internationalism of 4S, in fact and spirit, as well as our deep appreciation for the diverse experiences and perspectives that 4S members bring to our collective work. We encourage anyone planning to submit an abstract to do so, even if they may be prevented from attending the conference owing either to border restrictions or to matters of conscience.  If the Executive Order remains in place into the summer, those unable or unwilling to attend will be included in the program, and their decisions regarding participation noted as requested.

Important Dates

Nov 15. Call for open panels proposals
Jan 1. Submission closes for open panels
Jan 15.  Call for closed/invited sessions and individual paper submissions and Making and Doing session proposals
March 1. Deadline for submission of closed sessions and individual papers
April 15. Acceptance notification
May 15.  Preliminary program
June 23. End of early registration
July 21. Registration deadline to be included in the program. Last day to cancel registration without penalty.

Registration and payment

This year, meeting registration will take place on the 4S Members site. If you submitted a paper or are listed as a presenter or author on an accepted paper, you already have an account with the site. Please avoid creating a duplicate account–it will only cause confusion. If you don’t know your login credentials, use the ‘forgot password’ link. When you update your password, your user name will be displayed on the confirmation screen.

If you do not see the member rates offered after you log in, you may elect to join 4S before registering. Use the ‘Membership’ link in the menu. (Note:  If you see the message Your membership is current and does not expire when you log in, it means you do not have an active 4S membership. The message is referring to your Guest Membership in the web site. Apologies for the confusing language.)

This year you can pay online immediately upon registering, or you may select the bill me option and print an invoice to be processed by your institution. Subsequent payment may be made online or by bank transfer. Find bank information here. 4S strongly prefers online payment upon registration, for obvious reasons: pursuing people for payment is a nuisance for all involved.

For technical support, contact the administrator.


Early rates apply through midnight, EDT, June 23. ‘Concession’ rates apply to students and all unwaged or low waged.  Concession rates are meant for people such as students, retirees, under/unemployed, those living in economically disadvantaged countries, and others fo

Concession Professional



Cancellation Policy

After July 21, cancellations will be accepted with a refund of 50%. Any cancellations after August 4 will not be refunded.


Hotel Information

The meeting will be held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton Street. Our room block for this meeting is limited, so please book early if you want to stay at the conference hotel. To reserve a room at the conference rate of $179, call the Starwood Reservations Center at Reservation Center at 1.888.627.7054 provide the group code ‘4H29AA’ or simply book online.

Pluralizing Language in the Age of Trump and Brexit: An Invitation for the Upcoming 4S Conference (and beyond)

Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Xhosa

At the Boston 2017 conference, 4S invites presenters to deliver papers in languages other than English. 4S recognizes that xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise in many places. While English has become a scientific lingua franca that has been favoured in communications and networking across the globe, it is the official language of just a handful of countries, most prominently the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The current policies of these two countries send a message of insulation and parochialism to the world, explicitly threatening the richness and importance of human difference. In response, the aim of this initiative is to decenter English as the de facto language of this and other international conferences. Linguistic pluralism should be welcomed and encouraged to make clear that the world is irreducibly plural.

While this invitation is particularly extended to those whose first language is not English, even monolingual English speaker may have parts or all of their presentation written or audio-recorded in another language by another speaker. There are many ways to represent linguistic pluralism and we encourage creativity in this regard. To secure full understanding of each presentation, presenters should provide English translation, which can be distributed in various ways: a full paper, a summary, slides that accompany the talk, or other inventive forms.

This will of course be a collective experiment the first time through, in which we’ll trial different ways in which presenters can express their ideas in the language with which they feel most comfortable, while also making those ideas accessible to English speaking participants. We would like to extend a further request to anyone willing to translate this invitation into (an)other language(s) and also perhaps to aid in the creation of English summaries for circulation at the conference.  If you are able and willing to contribute to this effort, please contact Maurizio at m.meloni@sheffield.ac.uk.

Thanks to translators, ElHassan ElSabry, Jiuheng He, Aadita Chaudhury, HungYin Tsai, Aimé Dafon Sègla, Susanne Oechsner, Ivan da Costa Marques, Daria Dementeva, Olga Doletskaya, Igor Lyustritskiy, Claudia Castañeda

Program Committee

Heather Paxson (MIT, Chair)
Daniel Breslau (Virginia Tech)
Claudia Castañeda (Emerson College)
Tarleton Gillespie (Cornell, Microsoft Research New England)
Mary Gray (Indiana University, Microsoft Research New England)
Clare Kim (MIT)
Nick Seaver (Tufts)
Banu Subramaniam (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
TL Taylor (MIT)
Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University)

Travel Grants

Applications for grants to support travel to the meeting for students and other low-income scholars are now closed.

Original Call for Papers, Panels, and Making and Doing Presentations

Deadline for Submission: March 1, 2017

While submissions are closed, you can log in and view yours or edit contact information here.


Paper submissions should be in the form of abstracts of up to 250 words. They should include the paper’s main arguments, methods, and contributions to STS. You may choose to submit your paper abstract to an open panel, or you can leave panel selection to the program organizers.  In addition to designating one or more topical Research Areas using the drop-down menu, please list up to five keywords to help the program organizers evaluate and assign your paper.


Each session proposal should contain a summary and rationale of up to 250 words, including a brief discussion of its contribution to STS.  A session proposal must contain a minimum of three paper abstracts conforming to the criteria above and may contain up to five, plus a discussant. If the proposal contains fewer than five papers, the Program Committee may assign additional papers to your session to optimize scheduling and participation.

Open Panels

Prior to opening submissions, the program Committee accepted 129 proposals to host Open Panels. Their descriptions are available for perusal across four pages via the menu at left. When submitting a paper, you have the option of nominating your paper for up to three Open Panels.

The purpose of calling for open panel proposals is to stimulate the formation of new networks around topics of interest to the 4S community. Like any meeting panel, an open panel is a paper session with a theme and a responsible chairperson(s). In contrast to traditional (closed) session proposals, open panel topics are included in the call for papers, and authors nominate their paper for one or more panels.

Making and Doing Session

In addition to paper and session submissions, 4S invites proposed presentations for the ‘STS Making and Doing’ event.  Participation in the Making and Doing event does not count toward limits on conference participation described elsewhere. Making and Doing proposals are submitted through a dedicated form found at the same location as paper and session submissions.

Contact Information

For information on conference and program practices, acceptance status, and scheduling, contact the Program Chair, Heather Paxson.

For technical assistance with the submission or registration process, contact the 4S Administrator.