We’re organinizing a panel on symbiosis as object and concept on the 2019 4s conference in New Orleans (see our call below). If you’re interessted you can apply here: https://www.4s2019.org/call-for-submissions/

Reciprocal Capture: Symbiosis As Object And Concept In STS-Research

Andreas Folkers, Justus Liebig-University Gießen

Sven Opitz, Philipps-University Marburg

Research on the microbiome suggests that symbiosis is not just a curiosity but rather a rule in biology. Humans and non-human animals depend on symbiosis with microbes that outnumber their hosts in terms of cells and genetic material. Correspondingly, new modes of biotechnological intervention emerged trying to intervene into symbiotic relationships. This panel seeks to investigate scientific and technological practices associated with symbioses: How does the turn toward mutualist arts of living challenge long-held assumptions in the life sciences, for instance about individualistic competition in evolutionary biology or the identification of microbes with pathogens? What about new kinds of “symbiopolitics” (Stefan Helmreich) aiming at optimizing, creating or dissociating symbiotic bonds to improve human health, increase agricultural production or repair disrupted ecosystems? At the same time, symbiosis has already been adopted as a concept in STS-research: Donna Haraway’s thought on “sympoiesis”, Anna Tsing’s notion of “encounter”, and Isabelle Stengers’ understanding of “reciprocal capture” are cases in point. The panel seeks to advance this conceptual debate: How does symbiosis provide the opportunity for (re)-thinking natureculture relationalities? How does it help in re-conceiving the global in terrestrial terms as a “symbiotic planet” (Lynn Margulis)? In dealing with symbiosis, reciprocal capture also designates the mode in which the conceptual is folded into the phenomenal and vice versa. We are looking for talks that:

  • explore the significance of symbiosis as an alternative biological paradigm
  • analyze emerging forms of “symbiopolitics”
  • engage with symbiosis as a figure of thought in STS