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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Post-Lancaster and Sydney meeting

We meet for the first time in the new Winter term on the 18th October 2018 – looking forward to catching up after a summer of many STS events, including the EASST meeting in Lancaster and the 4S meeting in Sydney.

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Matters of Life and Death symposium

Dear all,

The next kitchen meeting will be the ‘Matters of Life and Death’ symposium, organised by Endre Dányi, Martina Kolanoski and Thomas Scheffer. The event will take place on 3 and 4 July 2018, in the university’s guest house (Fraunlobstr. 1), and include Sven Opitz, Alain Pottage and Lucy Suchman among other STS scholars.

Please find a short description of the symposium below. If you wish to attend, please drop Endre a line.

We are witnessing a renewed urgency of dealing with ‘existential problems’ – problems that are reducible neither to ‘ordinary problems’ modern institutions were developed to handle, nor to ‘crises’ that signal extraordinary failures of those institutions. The first tenet of this symposium is that existential problems, such as climate change, are matters of life and death: they challenge ways of life, but they do so in a distributed manner. In this sense, they are both ordinary and extraordinary, potentially anti-democratic, urgent, collectivist, globally interwoven, inter-dependent and recursive. As such, they call for totalizing societal mobilizations and, by doing so, tend to weaken functional differentiation and institutional divisions of labour. In the symposium, we engage with existential challenges in a problem-focused and practice-oriented manner.

More specifically, we examine how – depending on our theoretical vocabularies – collectives, social systems, members, institutions, and state apparatuses perform, frame, deny, and scale up/down existential problems. In other words, how life and death come to matter and are being appropriated. The second tenet is that law and legal modes of doing play a central role in such problem-solution-combinations. They do so, for instance, by offering a horizon for possible solutions, as liberal scholars have suggested, or by constraining (causes of) problem-solving capacities, like Marxist, feminist and anarchist thinkers have proposed.

In light of existential problems, we ask how legislation or law enforcement restrict or prescribe problem-solving efforts. The symposium will take place on 3-4 July 2018 at the Westend Campus and the Goethe University’s Guesthouse (Fraunlobstraße 1, about a 15 minute walk from the Westend Campus).

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The Elements of a Sociology of Digital Economic Geographies

Co-organised by the Human Geography and the Cultural Anthropology departments, the next kitchen session will be centred around Koray Çalışkan’s visit to Frankfurt on the 18th and the 19th June. Please find below a detailed description of the programme.


The Elements of a Sociology of Digital Economic Geographies

Monday, June, 18th 2018, 18:00
Seminarhaus SH 0.109

The lecture is part of the new MA STS and jointly organized by the Institut für Kulturanthropologie und Europäische Ethnologie and the Institut für Humangeographie.

Koray Çalışkan is associate professor of politics at Bogazici University. He received his Ph.D. with distinction from New York University with which he won the Malcolm Kerr Social Science Award from MESA. His book Market Threads came out from Princeton University Press and focused on markets in Egypt, Turkey and the US. Currently he works on wind energy markets and political regimes.

On Tuesday, June 19th, 10 -12 am, PEG 2.G202 (Besprechungsraum des Instituts für Humangeographie), there will be an opportunity to continue our discussion with Koray on 1) marketization 2) ethnographies of global stuff and 3) political transformation in Turkey.


The Elements of a Sociology of Digital Economic Geographies

Koray Çalışkan 

This paper aims at describing the universe of new economic geographies, built by blockchains and funded via digital monies such as Bitcoin. Following the 2008 Crisis and in part as a result of it, trust in conventional banking has plummeted to a new low.  In response to this development, economic actors have begun to pursue new initiatives, often bypassing the state and banks. Since 2008 and for the first time in history, people are issuing their own digital money with the help of blockchain technology, and without a central authority. Companies and a few communities had previously experimented with their own monies, yet none of them had 1) found a way to do this with no central authority, 2) managed to address issues of trust conclusively, at least in theory. Blockchain technology seems to be successful on both fronts. This paper analyses new markets of ICOs in critical conversation with recent developments in social research on non-digital market geographies. It shows that new digital markets of ICOs require social theory to go beyond analogical thinking and imagine new concepts to represent a novel relationship of exchange, production, valuation, redistribution, and representation.


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