Virtuality, Pandemics, and Global/Planetary Health

The term started with an empty kitchen and is about to end with an almost empty kitchen. Our Kitchen STS discussions have more or less successfully gone virtual and we can look back at three great sessions. Huge thanks to Carolin, Kevin, and Mara, who did all the preparations as they are our local experts about pandemics and global health!

The discussed literature provided a good introduction into STS and (Global) Public Health. We engaged in many different questions and streams of discussion that are intersting for STS debates: The problem of knowledge production, (un)safe knowledge, conflicting viewpoints, biopolitics, environmental impacts and planetary, more-than-human health concepts, to name a few.

Here is the list of literature which we discussed:

  • Sariola, S.; Engel, N.; Montgomery, C.; Kingori, P. (2017) STS and Global Health. In: Science & Technology Studies 30 (3): 2-12.
  • Kelly, A. (2018) Ebola vaccines, evidentiary charisma and the rise of global health emergency research. In: Economy and Society 47 (1): 135-161.
  • Farman, A.; Rottenburg, R. (2019) Measures of future health,from the nonhuman to the planetary. An introductory essay. Medicine Anthropology Theory 6 (3): 1–28.
  • Lorenzini, D. (2020) Biopolitics in the Time of Coronavirus. Critical Inquiry (blog), URL:

As some of us are already preparing for the joint virtual 4S/EASST conference in August we thought that, given the current COVID-19 regulations about physical meetings, we would kindly invite to a pre-conference hang out some time before the official start of the conference on 18th August 2020 and/or a post-conference hang out some time after the conference. If you are interested in such meetings please write us an email.

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The virtual Frankfurt kitchen STS

If you are allowed to walk through the corridors of the PEG building these days you find shut doors, no lights, no people around. The kitchen on the 3rd floor is empty. What a comfortable study environment this would be; but without students? The pandemic makes us realize many things, good ones but also fatal ones. Some proclaim the next big economic crisis, some fear a rising authoritarianism, others focus on the more hopeful stories on decreasing environmental pollution or the “long due” digitalisation of work. In the academic world, “flash calls” became a quick response, as well as the many openings of access to scientific papers and even books. What else happens during such a state of exception?

Our own response to it is not new, but still new enough for the kitchen STS. We will hold this terms’ sessions online! As most of our seminars are virtual already, we thought that this would be the most appropriate way of dealing with the current situation. Also, we think that our discussion group could benefit from trying out the possibility for remote participation – maybe even from our own kitchens at home. Taking a look at this years’ 4S/EASST conference in Prague, we believe that a virtual kitchen STS can help to practice and organise virtual panels, as well.

For the start, we will organise a Zoom-meeting on 29. April 2020 at 18:00h (6pm, CEST). If you want to join, please register on our list or write us an e-mail.

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Talk and discussion with Dr. Tara Mehrabi: Queer Ecologies of Death in the Lab (Feb 12, 2020)

We are happy to announce the visit of Dr. Tara Mehrabi from Karlstad University who will be talking about and discussing with us her work on “Queer Ecologies of Death in the Lab: Rethinking Waste, Decomposition and Death Through a Queerfeminist Lens”.

Since the kitchen area is very popular these days, we will be meeting in room 3G.202 (on the other end of the corridor) – as usually at 6 pm.

Tara is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Gender Studies at Karlstad University, Sweden. She is a founding member of the Queer Death Studies Network and a member of The Posthumanities Hub based at Linköping University. She is the author of the monograph Making Death Matter: A Feminist Technoscience Study of Alzheimer’s Sciences in the Laboratory (2016). Together with Marietta Radomska and Nina Lykke, she co-edited the special issue of the journal Women, Gender & Research “Queer Death Studies: Coming to Terms with Death with Death, Dying and Mourning Differently” (2019).

A short abstract on her talk can be found here.

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How bacteria run the planet: Lynn Margulis’ theory of symbiogenetic evolution

This semester’s last kitchen STS session takes place on July 10th, at 6pm – just this once not in the kitchen area but in room PEG 2.G 107. We will discuss the work of Lynn Margulis, more specifically the Gaia hypothesis she formulated togehter with James Lovelock and her concept of symbiogenesis as an alternative to the (neo) Darwinist theory of evolution.

Looking forward to seeing many of you next week’s session – which we will round off with some semester closing drinks in the Sommergarten afterwards!

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“Plastic as a Political Material” – Kitchen STS goes ISOE

This month, our regular kitchen STS meeting will be replaced by an exciting outward event. On Wednesday, June 19th at 10 a.m., Gay Hawkins is here to discuss with us her recent work on plastic and material politics in a colloquium at the Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung (ISOE) in Bockenheim. The event is organized by the PlastX research group and is an accompanying event to their lecture series “Living in the Plastic Age“.

On the same day, Gay Hawkins also gives a public talk on “Plastic as a Political Material” as part of this lecture series. It takes place at Campus Westend in room HZ 3 (Hörsaalzentrum) at 4 p.m.

If you’re interested in participating in the colloquium, please send an email to Josef or me in advance, so that we can inform the organizers about the number of participants from the kitchen STS discussion group.

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Want to find out how to interview a plant?

In our next session, to be held on May 15th, we’ll be discussing a chapter from John Hartigan’s recent book Care of the Species (2017). The text is an intriguing proposal for and a thorough exploration of “How to Interview a Plant”, developed throughout the author’s ethnographic field research in botanical gardens.

Looking forward to seeing many of you on Wednesday 15th at 6pm in the kitchen area at PEG 3G 204!

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Kitchen STS summer term 2019: First meeting April 17

Dear kitchen people. As most of you already know, Endre has left Frankfurt for a professorship in Munich. Even though we will truly miss him, Kitchen STS continuous. Franziska von Verschuer and I are taking care of the institution Kitchen STS has become thanks to Endre and others. For organizational reasons, however, we have to move our meetings to Wednesday evenings. We hope this works for as many of you as possible. We are looking forward to an exciting semester and hope to see many of you at our first meeting in our kitchen (PEG 3G 204) at 6pm on April 17.

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In our next session, to be held on the 24th January, we’ll be discussing a manuscript by James Maguire and Brit Ross Winthereik – both from the IT University in Copenhagen. It’s about ‘datafication’ and the role data centres play in the ongoing digitalisation of the Danish state. Please send Endre an email to get a PDF.

Looking forward to seeing many of you at 6pm on Thursday the 24th, in PEG 3G 204.

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Critical Data Studies

Our next meting will be held on the 13th December – this time at 7pm – in PEG 3G 202. We’ll have pizza and a discussion about Critical Data Studies. Paula has suggested that we discuss this introductory text in Big Data & Society. Those of you wanting more text to read could look at Engin Isin and Evelyn Ruppert’s Being Digital Citizens – Paula has chapters 2 and 3 as a PDF.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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Discussion on ‘Inventing the Social’

In the next meeting, at 6pm on the 22nd November, we’ll be discussing the introduction and selected chapters from Noortje Marres et al.’s Inventing the Social. You can access the PDF for free following the link below – or buy it as a beautiful physical object!

Inventing the Social



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