What can centering absence do for the social studies of science in illuminating the devastating effects of militarism, colonialism, overtourism, and racial capitalism? In this panel, we ask how different ecologies of absence are produced and, in turn, how they produce and reproduce the inequities and oppressions that come attached to the production of enclosures.
Many technoscientific infrastructures share a characteristic of repeatable spatial forms that are defined by absence. In such cases, a military installation may be absent on the map and out of bounds, or an optical telescope requires the absence of terrestrial light. Other enclosures such as waste repositories, and nuclear power plants also require the absence of development within their radius. Absences in turn are a specific production of space (Lefebvre) often defined by their structuring on emptiness or suspension within space. This panel aims to think collaboratively about the different absences which accumulate in spaces of enclosures.
This panel will take a geographic approach to absence to examine but not be limited to the following questions. What processes produce such spaces and absence and at what scales do these processes operate? How do these scales emerge from the infrastructure itself? And what is the maintenance or enforcement of absence predicated on? We also ask what methods might we use to study ecologies of absence.