Day 1 is coming to a close, and before I head off I thought I’d contribute a few first thoughts. What I’ve been astounded by today is the sheer scale and depth of research in STS. Today I’ve travelled from Austria, to Uganda, to South Korea and back to the Netherlands via the US, UK and Germany. I’ve heard about nanotechnology, GM and stem cells, but also about e-books and health services.
I started off today in a ‘networks’ session, and was struck by the ways in which people are visualising the networks and topologies of technological innovation, trying to bring some concreteness to the worlds of actor-network theory and activity theory. The pervasiveness of networks and images of them extends to research itself, or at least new views of the action of genes, as described in a paper by Christophe Bonneuil. After topping up on coffee, a couple of sessions on national policy frameworks with Sheila Jasanoff and Arie Rip reemphasised the complexity of the questions with which STS is grappling, even when it clusters around biotechnology and nanotechnology. Analysis of the imaginaries underlying technological development is an increasingly prominent area of work in STS, and its something that I think I’ll hear more of as the conference progresses. With some of these thoughts rattling around in what’s left of my brain, it was interesting to go along to the last session of the day, on Development and Materiality. Here, the ways in which imaginaries of technological and social development are intertwined was unpicked, particularly around GM (thanks Dominic), along with the ways in which regulatory framings of agricultural bioetchnology act to shape socio-technical practices. Here, I returned to the world of comparative studies, in a paper comparing the Argentinian and Chinese experiences . A breathless dash through the day so far, but its not over yet – this evening features the subplenary on pharmaceutical research, close to my own interests in pharmaceutical biotechnology. Loving the photos – I was too late to get to the dissertation workshop at lunchtime, so my thesis will, alas, remain incoherent for the foreseeable future.