Call for submissions – Panel 148. Rethinking Expertise under COVID-19: a New Look at Digitization and Decentralization

We invite you to consider submitting an abstract to “Rethinking Expertise under COVID-19: a New Look at Digitization and Decentralization”, panel @ 4S Annual Meeting, 6-9 October, Toronto and worldwide.

Submission Deadline: March 8, 2021 via
Keywords: enabling technologies, maker movement, expertise, healthcare, 3D printing

This session takes its inspiration from transformations in manufacturing and digitization that have been observed around the world in the aftermath of COVID-19. The fast spread of the pandemic led to shortages in Personal Protective Equipment and other medical devices essential for healthcare. As an expression of practices and methods in uncertain times these resulted in a surge of maker and hacker movements dedicated to producing this equipment through 3D-printing and other means. Simultaneously there has been an increase in digitization of healthcare through telemedicine and virtual consults, mostly governmentally mandated. So, on the one hand, we are dealing with a highly altruistic-seeming provision of aid by several communities of practice, while on the other hand, governments have an interest in building in certain control mechanisms to ensure certainty. While there has been a long standing interest in STS in how technologies mediate action, we are interested in exploring how these objects/technologies become entangled in new sociotechnical imaginaries as they intertwine forms of responsibility, solidarity and care. What kind(s) of relations are enabled through these new practices? How do they unsettle existing structures of expertise?

This session will bring together scholars who are interested in analyzing the ambivalences and challenges of these new practices in divergent settings. We are interested in both empirical and theoretical analyses that address the following questions:

How is care reflected in these emerging sociotechnical assemblages?
How do maker communities conceptualize technical creation, expertise and collective action?
What do these emerging practices mean for vulnerable populations?

Panel organizers: Emine Onculer Yayalar, Bilkent University; Melike Şahinol, Orient-Institut Istanbul and Erkan Saka, İstanbul Bilgi University.