Meredith Sattler, Virginia Tech; Cherí Johnson, Virginia Tech;
Boundaries take diverse forms: material, environmental, socio-cultural, and ontological/epistemological. They are used in consequential ways: defining relationships, charting territories, mitigating uncertainty, and facilitating optimization, etc. Both societies and cultures of knowledge production tend to actively, and intentionally, use boundaries as technologies of governance [i.e. bounded rationalities, political borders, spatial envelopes, paywalls, models, narratives, identities, prejudices...], to establish hierarchies, divisions, and other sociological conditions, which privilege and/or conceal power dynamics embedded within innovations, individuals, collectives, values, and/or alternate ways of being. Although often boundaries appear stable, scholarship reveals that they produce 'between' zones and edge conditions that are inherently contextual and mutable, producing indeterminate and/or obfuscated zones rife for exploitation and exploration.
This panel's interest is exploring boundary conditions as entwined with, but distinct from, the more meta-level analytical tools scholars use to examine them, and the evidence they reveal. Utilizing History, STS, and Social Sciences scholarship, we seek to expand the analytical tools/approaches/methodologies available to understand, [re]construct and operationalize boundaries, their agents [human and non-human], and their potential consequences. How may these analytical tools be applied to boundary-related questions, to reframe, reveal, and/or facilitate more robust, nuanced, and just understandings? We imagine this work might contribute to existing suites of boundary-related analytical tools: classification, demarcation, boundary objects, boundary work, trading zones, immutable mobiles, large technological systems, closed-worlds, cyborgs, misframing, otherness, and other STS or Postcolonial frameworks. We are particularly interested in scholarship that interrogates existing and/or develops new analytical tools, and welcome novel, contextually rich, and inclusive approaches.