Production and innovation have been central concepts behind policy decisions, but maintainers and maintenance have only recently gained critical attention in STS. Driven by the constant urge for novelty, science and technology is presumed to solve social issues. Yet, this urge towards improvement makes the everyday work and essential labor of 'maintainers,' invisible, and, as a result, precarious. This panel focuses on the constant care and labor practiced to sustain existing sociotechnical systems. What types of actions, bodies, technologies, institutions, relationships, memories, and affects are required to maintain? Maintainers do not exist by themselves but are entangled with communities such as neighbors, policy-makers, scientists, activists, and families. We are committed to center the visibility and impact of the work of maintainers.
Building upon the work by Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell (2016, 2020), and Ellan Spero (2020) and our own work around a particular type of waste management infrastructures in smart cities of South Korea, we seek to explore maintainers with and beyond infrastructures. We invite scholars working on different research topics related to maintainers in any way, shape, and form. Maintenance and maintainers are multifaceted concepts that require discussion across various disciplines and languages in different temporal or geographical settings and this panel seeks to bring together and explore these facets. We also aim to open discussions around the environment in/of/around systems which are maintained, as maintenance work often has profound impacts not only on maintainers inside of it, but also on ecological surroundings including water, air, and land.