[SIGCIS-Members] CFP: Imaginaries of Techno-Optimism (abstracts due March 1), special issue of Science as Culture

Morgan G. Ames morganya at gmail.com
Wed Jan 31 17:42:59 PST 2018


We would love to see some submissions from these community to this special
issue of Science as Culture on the "imaginaries of techno-optimism" - see
details below. Apologies for cross-posting; please forward widely! Let me
or Damien know if you have any questions.

Morgan Ames
Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society
University of California, Berkeley

*Imaginaries of Techno-Optimism*:

CfP for *Science as Culture*

Guest Editors: Damien Droney, Morgan G. Ames, & Mark Gardiner

Deadline for Abstracts: March 1st 2018

Techno-optimism — the expectation that science and technology will lead to
economic, political, or social good — is a mainstay of business,
government, and popular culture. Techno-optimistic attitudes range from the
hope that technologies may have positive effects to the assumption that
they necessarily will. For entrepreneurs or political leaders, promoting
the promise of scientific and technological progress can lead to publicity
and financial investment, draw the attention of development agencies, and
attract enthusiastic employees and clients. While a charge of
techno-utopianism is often taken as an insult, techno-optimism is embraced
by some technology writers and activists.

It is especially important to examine techno-optimism in the cynical
contemporary moment, which is marked by an increased perception of the
threat posed by technology (Richardson 2015). In recent years, the promises
of new media have been tempered by fears of state-sponsored hacking and
corporate data monopolies. While techno-pessimism is on the rise, an
underlying expectation of technological progress continues to structure
technological design and policy. In this proposed special issue, we explore
the nature of the hope that science and technology will make the world a
better place and consider its effects. Drawing on Jasanoff and Kim’s (2015)
conceptual framework of sociotechnical imaginaries, the contributors to
this special issue ask:  H*ow is techno-optimism produced?  and what are
its consequences*?

The concept of sociotechnical imaginaries provides an orienting framework
for understanding the origins and consequences of these positive and
future-focused dispositions toward technology. Jasanoff defines
sociotechnical imaginaries as “collectively held, institutionally
stabilized, and publicly performed visions of desirable futures, animated
by shared understandings of forms of social life and social order
attainable through, and supportive of, advances in science and technology”
(2015:4). Sociotechnical imaginaries explicitly connect the production of
imaginaries (see Anderson 1983, Taylor 2003, Appadurai 1996) to the
production of sociotechnical systems (see Bijker, Hughes, and Pinch 1987).
In this way, it foregrounds science and technology as co-produced with
moral and political landscapes of social life (Jasanoff 2004), highlighting
social, ethical, and political attachments that motivate technoscientific
project. We focus in particular on optimistic sociotechnical imaginaries as
these visions often motivate and direct the design and governance of
technologies. By centering the performances of imaginaries within
distributed sociotechnical systems, the framework of sociotechnical
imaginaries draws attention to both the means and effects of articulating
optimistic attitudes toward the sociotechnical future.

Where does techno-optimism come from? We welcome contributions that
consider the origins of particular optimistic imaginaries and the ways that
those imaginaries are maintained. Submissions could focus on the
power-laden sources of techno-optimism, including unequal capacities to
shape or sustain sociotechnical imaginaries.

What are the consequences of optimistic sociotechnical imaginaries? We seek
contributions that examine the intended and unintended effects of
techno-optimism. Papers may consider which groups are served by
techno-optimistic imaginaries, or which problems are highlighted within
optimistic discourses of the technological future.

We especially welcome contributions that expand the geographic and thematic
diversity of the special issue, including case studies from Europe or Asia
on topics including medicine, finance, and computing. In addition, we are
interested in contributions that employ critical social analysis that is
not foregrounded in existing applications of the sociotechnical imaginaries
framework. Submissions may, for example, employ the concept of ideology to
analyze techno-optimism (see Masco 2004; Turner 2006; Barbrook and Cameron
1996), or consider examples of techno-optimism that are “cruel” (Berlant
2011) by working against the features that make technologies attractive in
the first place.

Please submit abstracts to Damien Droney (ddroney at uchicago.edu) by March
1st. Abstracts should follow the *Science as Culture* guidelines (200-250
words, see http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/csac_edit_guidelines.pdf),
but longer drafts or synopses are also welcome. If accepted, full 7000-word
drafts would be due June 1st.


Anderson, B. (1991). *Imagined Communities* (2nd ed.). London: Verso.

Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of
Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Barbrook, R. & Cameron, A. (1996). The Californian Ideology, *Science as
Culture*, 6(1): 44-72.

Berlant, L. G. (2011). *Cruel Optimism*. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bijker, W., Hughes, T., & Pinch, T. (eds.) (1987). *The Social Construction
of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of
Technology*. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Jasanoff, S. (2004). *States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and
Social Order*. London: Routledge.

Jasanoff, S., & Kim, S.-H. (Eds.) (2015). *Dreamscapes of Modernity:
Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power*. Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press.

Mosco, V. (2004). *The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace*.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Richardson, K. (2015). *An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation
Anxiety and Machines*. New York: Routledge.

Taylor, C (2003). Modern Social Imaginaries. Durham, NC: Duke University

Turner, F. (2006). *From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the
Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism*. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.

Morgan G. Ames
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