Emma Kowal, Deakin University; Ricardo Roque, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon;
Much of today's science is sedimented with histories of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and Indigenous possession. Knowingly or not, STS scholars engage with ghosts, often as an absent presence that emerges at the point of maximum disavowal. This open panel invites papers that investigate haunting and manifold ghostly traces of colonial sciences in the past and in the present and seek to open up dialogues between historians of science and other STS scholars.
We take a broad view of haunting and its manifestations. Scholars examining historical and contemporary sites as diverse as institutional archives, preserved samples, museum displays, laboratory architectures, scientific supply chains, emerging technologies, scientific controversies, or urban infrastructures may find material-semiotic traces of the colonial past to be insistent actors in their accounts. Things or persons dead, ended, or forgotten exert an elusive agency that may be grasped by ghostly idioms. Increasingly, Indigenous scholars and scientists are calling attention to the colonial or imperial relations inscribed into science and technology, at times announcing themselves in idioms of the spectral or spectacular, at other times hiding in plain sight. Contributors to the panel may also wish to explore the ways that scholars are haunted by their subjects, returning to the same questions or preoccupied with sources that cannot be found or books that have not yet been written. We invite participants to attune themselves to ghosts, experimenting with haunting as an analytical tool to track the traces of colonial science.