Call for Papers: “Leakage”, Inaugural Conference of stsing, TU Dresden, 19.-22.03.2024, Deadline: 15.10.2023

Call for Papers

Leakage reveals cracks and holes; it signifies porosity, the transgression of a boundary, and a rebuke to fantasies of closure and containment. Unlike a sudden spill or a violent burst, leaks are sites of a slow and steady subversion. They corrode and accumulate over time, calling for a reckoning with temporalities of latency and a readjustment of perceptual scales. Leaks are evidence of hidden complexity and unacknowledged others, both human and nonhuman. They draw attention to the material unconscious, submerged histories, and enabling conditions of cities, bodies, ecologies, technologies, and social systems.

Whether through the registers of excess, loss, abjection, entropy, or sacrifice, leakage can be understood as that which cannot be contained by hegemonic economies of distribution and circulation. Something seeps through that should have stayed behind walls, cordoned off to prevent contamination, mixture, or mediation. Sites of leakage are paradigmatic for the environmental and social costs of resource industries and extractive colonialism but also create liminal zones where ecologies and architectures intermingle. Integral to challenges of bounded individualism in critical disability studies and material feminisms, conceptions of leakage articulate bodies and systems open to the contingencies of environmental exposure and socio-technical enmeshment. Framed by critical data and security studies, leakage speaks to the intersections of surveillance capitalism, digital justice, and hacking. Leaks disturb and redistribute regulated flows of matter, capital, information, and power; they create diversions and bifurcations with nonlinear, unpredictable, and protracted effects. From toxic spills to data leaks, leakage is inherently political. The politics and materialities of leakage raise questions about vulnerable and permeable ecologies, architectures, technologies, bodies, and knowledge systems. Fears of leakage—leaky bodies, leaky pipes, leaky borders, leaky servers, leaky arguments—reinforce regimes of hygiene and security that are quick to produce a techno-social fix or reactionary containment strategy. At the same time, leakage can be leveraged as both an instrument of geopolitical violence and a counter-hegemonic tactic of generative disruption and emancipatory disclosure.

Thinking with leakage promotes a shift in analytical gears and new alliances across disciplines and reference fields. What would a generative politics of leakage look like it? How might an engagement with leakage inform a critical analysis of black boxing, colonial infrastructuralism, spatial design, hetero-patriarchal biopolitics, or technoscientific worldmaking? Who and what is feeding (on) the leak, and what emerges in its wake? Engaging leakage through the lens of science & technology studies (STS) requires self-reflexivity about epistemic instabilities, interdisciplinary diffusion, and unintended consequences. We invite scholars, activists, and artists to defamiliarize, disrupt, or otherwise explore the generative potential of leakage as a variegated paradigm for STS, whether engaged as a physical phenomenon, a material metaphor, an analytical tool, or a political strategy.

We welcome contributions that engage STS from a plurality of disciplines and fields, including art, anthropology, sociology, politics, literature, cultural studies, design, media studies, history of technology, political geography, migration studies, medical humanities, digital humanities, film studies, and environmental & energy humanities. We are specifically committed to promoting expansions and intersections of STS with emancipatory discourses such as critical race theory, feminist materialisms, decolonial criticism, co-futurisms, queer and trans studies, critical posthumanisms, environmental justice, and critical disability studies.

Presentations can be held either in English or German. We strive for a diversity of voices and perspectives from any and all disciplines and career stages. While papers on any subject in STS are welcome, we especially encourage topics that resonate with the overall conference theme by addressing the politics, technoscientific imaginaries, and environmental entanglements of what may count as leakage, leaky, or leaking with respect to topics that include but are not limited to:

·       Toxicity, radiation, and pollution
·       Embodiment, metabolisms, and subjectivity
·       Environmental, digital, and social justice
·       Data systems and information flows
·       Security policies and surveillance systems
·       Movement and accessibility
·       Systems of power and oppression
·       Machines and energy systems
·       Architectures and infrastructures
·       Places, topologies, and geographies
·       Ontologies and epistemologies
·       Atmospheres and geological strata
·       Modernities and narratives of progress & development
·       Temporalities, histories, and futurisms
·       Translations and transformations
·       Hacking, hegemonies, and activisms
·       Value chains and circulations
·       Exclusion and inclusion
·       …

It is possible to submit proposals for individual presentations and preformed panels in English or German. Non-traditional formats (roundtables, artistic research, participatory formats, etc.) are welcome. For individual presentations, we ask for an abstract of 300 words and a short bio (150 words). For preformed panels we require a proposal (single file) that includes a 300-word summary of the panel topic, abstracts of 200 words for each contribution, and bio notes (150 words) for all participants. Please indicate the format you envision for your contribution. Please send all submissions to by October 15, 2023. Options for hybrid participation will be available.

Find more information here.