Linguists first used the term backchannel to refer to the spontaneous responses and signals that provide interactivity to what is only apparently a one-way communication. Social media users have adopted the term to refer to the unofficial, multi-directional online conversation that parallels formal academic exchange at a lecture or conference. The Backchannels blog is intended to have a similar relationship to scholarly discourse in STS. It provides an outlet for alternative-format scholarly communications, publishing shorter, timelier, media-rich communiques of interest to the global STS community. The editors welcome proposed contributions.


Nov 20 2023

In this post, James Merron describes the tensions and contestations over registering, describing and organizing frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum, based on his ethnographic experience at the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory (GRAO) just outside of Accra, Ghana.

Celebrating TrevorFest: Taking Trevor’s Legacy Forward

Nov 13 2023

In this post, Amanda Domingues, Lissette Lorenz and Barkha Kagliwal take us to a weekend of reflection, recollection, and celebration of Trevor J. Pinch’s work, recounting his unique legacy in the field of STS.

STS and epidemiological scientific production using large databases in Brazil

Oct 30 2023

In this post, Mariana Pitta Lima and Bethânia Almeida aim to explore initial reflections from an STS perspective on the production of science in epidemiology and data for health research in Brazil. They suggest that STS can deepen critical reflection on the production of research involving the relationship between population data and health outcomes in specific studies that explore how "the social" enacts on health and disease.

"We embody the revolt": report of a Brazilian participatory art experience inspired by the works of Hélio Oiticica

Oct 16 2023

The power of embodied resistance is a major theme of this intriguing LARP initiative in Brazil, as reported by André Sarturi, Carolina Scartezini, Luiz Falcão & Rafa Novak

Ceaselessly flowing city, tetheredly moving couriers: the case of Baemin delivery platform workers in Seoul

Oct 9 2023

In this post, El No explores how distinctive patterns of mobilities are produced through the operation of a food delivery platform, Baemin. Drawing on a mobile ethnography conducted in Seoul, El shows how a platform-initiated flow is performed and experienced by the couriers, and how this construction of mobilities becomes a site of politics.

Hearing the Planetary

Sep 25 2023

What can sound tell us about the future? Recounting his encounter with the Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon, Lukáš LikavĨan invokes a situated philosophy through the act of listening.

Fortune or calamity? A Thai perspective on ChatGPT

Sep 18 2023

By discussing Thailand’s take on ChatGPT with Prof. Soraj Hongladarom (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand), we can appreciate how different approaches to ChatGPT are less due to culturally diverging metaphysical interpretations of reality than due to culturally diverging relations to trust.

What does a Critical Data Studies look like, in 2023?* A Workshop Report

Sep 11 2023

In this post, Catriona Gray reports back from a workshop on data materialities and infrastructures at the University of Cambridge and reflects on the field of Critical Data Studies today.

Our “Hidden Gills”: A Report on the 2023 Animal Studies Summer Institute

Sep 4 2023

Backchannels Assistant Editor Richard Fadok ferrets out thematic convergences between STS and animal studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Animal Studies Summer Institute.

Challenges of flood control technologies on Kosi River in India

Sep 4 2023

Flood-control structures on rivers shape the experience of living with floods. In this post, Kanisha Singh reflects on the ambivalence around these structures – their promises and risks – on the Kosi River in India.

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