Science and Technology Studies


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STS Research Seminar: Towards a social, cultural and political history of the scientific conference

28 April 2021, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Join this STS Research Seminar with Charlotte Bigg, Centre Alexandre Koyré

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students




Department of Science and Technology Studies

Towards a social, cultural and political history of the scientific conference : conceptual, material and experiential aspects. 
Charlotte Bigg, Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris. To receive the joining instructions, please email sts@ucl.ac.uk.

The move online of almost all scientific meetings in the past year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has thown into sharp relief the taken-for-granted centrality of conferences within scientific (and other) cultures, including within our fields. While particular conferences, conference series or congresses do feature in historical and sociological studies of science, the distinct form of the conference has, perhaps surprisingly, not been studied as the standard feature of scientific life that it has become. My presentation will draw upon ongoing work within the collective project The Scientific Conference: A social, cultural and political history, to offer a few tentative thoughts on how scientific conferences might be studied. The ongoing existence, indeed continued growth of conferencing activity worldwide in the past few months suggests that conferences are about much more than simply communicating scientific results. Paying attention to their conceptual, material and experiential dimensions, including their apparently mundane aspects, can yield insights into the forms, meanings and functions of conferences in science and more broadly : as spaces of inclusion and exclusion, as embodiments of idealized communities, as materialisations, however imperfect, of ideas about scientific and social order.

About the Speaker

Charlotte Bigg

Research Fellow at centre Alexandre Koyré

More about Charlotte Bigg