WTMC Annual Meeting 24 February, De Balie, Amsterdam

Time: 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM
De Balie
Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10
1017 RR Amsterdam

You are cordially invited to the annual meeting of WTMC which will be held on 24 February 2023, 10.30-19.00 in the Balie in Amsterdam.


Program WTMC Annual meeting

10.00-10.30         Reception with coffee/tea

10.30-11.00         Welcome and update about WTMC – Esther Turnhout (University of Twente and Academic director WTMC)

11.00-12.30         Science and Technology Studies and Activism – Jorrit Smit (Leiden University), Sarah Rose Bieszczad (Leiden University), Guus Dix (University of Twente),

Lotje Siffels (Radboud University), Marula Tsagari (TU Delft)

12.30-13.30         Lunch

13.30-14.30         Honouring Arie Rip – Peter Stegmaier (University of Twente), José van Eijndhoven (Erasmus University), Pierre Delvenne (Université de Liège)

14.30-15.30         Decolonizing Science and Technology Studies – Esha Shah (Wageningen University), Candida Sanchez Burmester (Maastricht University), Anique Hommels (Maastricht University)

15.30-16.00         Tea Break

16.00-17.30         A world without Latour – Huub Dijstelbloem (University of Amsterdam), Noortje Marres (University of Warwick), Gerard de Vries (University of Amsterdam), Harpo ‘t Hart (Embassy of the North Sea)

17-30-19:00         Drinks


In connection with the reservations made for the catering (lunch and subsequent drinks), we would like to ask you to consider the following costs: 25 euros for WTMC members and 50 euros for non-members.

All are welcome – PhD members, retired members and everyone interested in the topics we will be discussing (also if not a member of WTMC).

Book your place here. Please register by 31 January 2023!


Detailed panel descriptions


Science and Technology Studies and Activism

  • Chaired by Jorrit Smit (Leiden University), Sarah Rose Bieszczad (Leiden University), and Guus Dix (University of Twente)

Science and technology are deeply intertwined with the global climate and ecological crisis, socio-economic inequality and (neo)colonial power struggles. Unsurprisingly, many STS scholars are deeply affected by these issues and seek to do something within and beyond their academic work. In this panel, we open up the space for these affects and actions. In doing so, we hope to foster a dialogue about STS and activism within the WTMC-community. Starting from a number of pitches and reflections, we ask:

  • What is emotionally and politically at stake for academics who (long to) engage in activism?
  • How does the field of STS help or obstruct them in that engagement?
  • What can the WTMC-community do to safeguard and expand the space for activist ideas, desires and practices?


Honouring Arie Rip

  • Chaired by Peter Stegmaier (University of Twente)

Arie Rip has been awarded the Bernal Prize 2022 by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). We want to pay tribute to what Arie Rip has done for STS, especially in the Netherlands, with some serious reflections and also a few anecdotes. Two of his companions, José van Eijndhoven (Erasmus University) and Pierre Delvenne (Université de Liège) will help us to bridge the large time span and thematic breadth of Arie Rip’s work. The panel will close with an open discussion.


Decolonizing Science and Technology Studies: Disrupting the dominant

  • Keynote lecture by Esha Shah (Wageningen University)

In 1995, STS scholars Shrum and Shenhav claimed that “the literature on science and technology in less developed countries (LDCs) is immense and interdisciplinary, but not predominantly academic”, they in fact felt that “it would be easy to damn much of it for lack of systematicity, methodological sophistication, and theoretical grounding” (Handbook of Science and Technology Studies). This dismissal of the science and technology critique emerging from the non-West as theoretically unimportant was the founding moment integral to the inception of Euro-America centric STS, which in 1995 was yet an emerging discipline. In 1995, however, postcolonial theory and subaltern studies, closely connected to scholarly and political activism in South-Asia and Latin America, were established disciplines, extensively discussing the colonial roots of modern science and technology and their disastrous effects on the bodies, environment, and epistemologies of Third World people for more than two decades. I will look back to discuss the key differences and exchanges between the critique of modern science and technology emerging from within post-colonial and subaltern theory and the discourses on postcolonial technoscience as happening within STS. Since the formative early misconceptions as expressed by Shrum and Shenhav, postcolonial technoscience in STS has significantly transformed into a small and yet vibrant field of inquiry that is based largely on the empirical expansion of the focus from the West to the Rest and that still, I tend to argue, keeps intact the Euro-America centric “analytical-institutional complex” (Law and Lin) of STS – “in the metropolis they ‘do theory’ and in the colonies they gather data” as was poignantly described by Itty Abraham. Learning from the postcolonial and subaltern studies, by privileging the notion of the affective, embodied, and biographical subject as the agent of change, I will make an attempt to disrupt the dominant by discussing a case study from the metropole to challenge one of the core analytical concepts of STS theory.

  • Commentary by Candida Sanchez Burmester (Maastricht University)
  • Chaired by Anique Hommels (Maastricht University)


A world without Latour

  • Chaired by Huub Dijstelbloem (University of Amsterdam) and Noortje Marres (University of Warwick)

In this session, we will commemorate Bruno Latour, his work, and his importance for STS. The title of this session can be understood in various ways, purposefully so. What does a world without a Latour-view look like? What understandings of objects, relations, networks, humans, nature, and technology did we have before Latour – what twists did he give to them? Which worlds have remained relatively untouched by Latour, and continue to live without his approach?  How do we go on now that we can no longer rely on Latour to make space for experiments across STS theory and practice?

We will explore these questions in four areas, ending with a roundtable discussion:

1    Latour and STS – Huub Dijstelbloem (University of Amsterdam)

Roughly speaking, worldwide STS research comes in two shapes: the Science and Technology Studies with an emphasis on empirical engagement with epistemological, ontological, and political theory questions on the one hand, and the study of Science, Technology and Society with a focus on questions of democracy, citizen participation, innovation, transition, impact, and public policy on the other. How did Latour connect these different approaches, or navigate across them? What was Latour’s contribution to building the field of STS in these varying guises? And what will STS be in a world without Latour?

2    Gaia/the Climate Regime/Parliament of Things – Noortje Marres (University of Warwick)

Bruno Latour is perhaps most well known as the dilettant intellectual who attributed agency to things, and what he and other actor-network theorists called “non-humans”. In more recent work, he took on the role of spokesperson for the climate crisis, proposing that we are today living through a profound historical shift, in which a new ecological class is taking shape, and the dominant ideologies of the 19th Century – focused on freedom and equality – are being shaken up by the emergence of a new doctrine that foregrounds interdependence, habitability and care. What are the key issues for science and politics as they emerge from this work?  Who are where are the collectives that can carry them further?

3    Latour and philosophy – Gerard de Vries (University of Amsterdam)

Bruno Latour had a special relationship with The Netherlands. Not only was the Netherlands for him one of the few places in the world where the role of science and technology in the construction of nature was affirmed and not denied. It was also the country where he had great colleagues and good friends in the STS/WTMC community, The Netherlands is also the country that first recognized Latour as a philosopher – witness his appointment to the Spinoza Chair at the University of Amsterdam in 2005 and the award of the Spinozalens in 2020. What kind of philosopher was Latour? What was philosophy like in a world without Latour, and how will it develop from now on?

4    Art and activism – Harpo ‘t Hart (Embassy of the North Sea)

One of the characteristics of Latour’s work is his interdisciplinarity and his engagement with art and activism: not only did Latour collaborate with artists throughout his career, later in life he championed exhibitions, plays and demonstrations as methods for the social sciences and humanities. Exhibitions like Making Things Public and Critical Zones have had a defining impact on many scholars and opened new avenues for collaboration between artists, academics, and activists. How has Latour changed the association of art/science/research/activism?

Roundtable: A World without Latour 

In this round table, we invite all speakers and the audience to discuss “what’s next” for STS and Latour-inspired social sciences and humanities research. What are our defining challenges and what kinds of collaborations and ways of working do they require?