Call for Papers: Session at the 4S Annual Meeting, Cleveland, USA.

The politics of uncertainty: disasters and STS

Manuel Tironi (

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Israel Rodríguez-Giralt (

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and Goldsmiths College, University of London.


Disasters –from floods to toxic runoffs, from earthquakes to terrorist attacks- have become highly contested political objects. The proliferation of a ‘new species of trouble’ (new types of problems) has dissolved the demarcation between natural and technological disasters. Moreover, the assessment of the causes and effects of a disaster, as well as the strategies of disaster prevention or reconstruction, once scientific problems in the hand of experts, increasingly involve multiple actors, forms of knowledge production, and value regimes. As a result, it is almost impossible to determine when a disaster begins and ends, what modes of existence it disrupts, and how to disentangle its human, material, institutional, and technological dimensions. Thus what constitutes a disaster, how responsibilities should be allocated, and which agents should participate in the reconstruction plans –once unproblematic questions- have become pressing queries for policy makers, politicians, and scientists.

STS scholars from different theoretical and research fields are invited to participate and submit papers addressing the politization of disasters and the complex situations produced by disasters. Papers are welcome on a variety of issues, including (but not limited to):

  • Disasters as nature/society recombinant spaces.
  • Justification and evaluation regimes in catastrophic settings.
  • Hybrid forums, participation and public engagement in disaster contexts.
  • Expertiments in governance and more-than-human politics and cosmopolitics in the prevention, management and relief of disasters.
  • Methodological and theoretical issues related to disasters.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent by email (see website for instructions) by 2010 March 15th to the organizers.



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