Call for abstracts, 2020 STS Conference Graz, session on open hardware in Global South

This year’s STS Conference in Graz, Austria, will be hosting a session on “Open and collaborative forms of organisation for the production of knowledge and material artefacts in the developing world“.

The deadline for abstracts has been extended until 31st January.

You may find the call below!


STS Conference Graz 2020, “Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies”
Graz, Austria, May 4-6, 2020

The STS Conference Graz is the joint Annual Conference of the Science, Technology and Society Unit – Graz University of Technology, the Inter-Disciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ) and the Institute of Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS).
We invite interested researchers in the areas of science, technology and society studies as well as sustainability studies to give presentations. The conference provides a forum to discuss on a broad variety of topics in these fields – especially abstracts are encouraged which refer to aspects of the following sessions (

For submitting your abstract, please use the online form (
Submission Deadline: January 31, 2020
Notification of Abstracts: February 2020


Open and collaborative forms of organisation for the production of knowledge and material artefacts in the developing world

The widespread diffusion of the internet and various communication platforms has drastically facilitated the ability of spatially dispersed communities to interact with each other. This has led to the emergence of new modes for the production of knowledge and material artefacts making use of open and collaborative forms of organisation. For example, the open science movement uses digital means to make research outputs freely available to non-academic audiences and to involve study participants in the design of research and/or the collection of data. The case of the hacker community has shown that open and collaborative software development can result in world-leading products (e.g., Firefox, Linux). More recently, we have witnessed a growing number of open hardware projects that design physical artefacts in a collaborative manner and make these openly accessible via the web for others to replicate, adapt, improve, or sell (e.g., Arduino, WikiHouse).

While the most well-known of these initiatives have predominantly taken place in industrialised countries, open and collaborative forms of knowledge and material production via online platforms potentially also hold great promise for communities in the Global South. They allow agents in the developing world to use and contribute to knowledge bases which were previously inaccessible. Such platforms can also allow for local industrial development where open knowledge can be exploited commercially. Furthermore, open and collaborative forms of production can help promote the development of contextually appropriate technologies due to the involvement of a broad base of users/contributors who usually are left out of the technology development process.

However, there are also a number of barriers to the use of open and collaborative forms of production. For instance, the feasibility of collaborative problem-solving via digital means likely depends on the nature of the tasks involved, e.g., their modularity or the amount of tacit knowledge required. Another critical element is the design of the open knowledge platform, e.g., with regards to the accessibility, transparency, and comprehensiveness of the available open source documentation. Another key issue, especially within the context of communities in the developing world, is the availability of the material infrastructure and the knowledge/skills necessary to utilise open access information.

For this session, we invite papers that investigate the emerging phenomena of open and collaborative modes of production in the context of communities located in the Global South. This can include, but does not need to be limited to, research on open science, software, and hardware. Relevant papers could empirically investigate the nature of specific open and collaborative projects and the impacts that these have had on the communities involved. Submissions could also analyse certain contextual elements found in different low and middle-income countries that constitute drivers or barriers to this new mode of knowledge and material production. Another potentially interesting field of investigation are the ways in which open and collaborative forms of production relate to mainstream institutions in developing country contexts, such as investors, markets, government, donor agencies, or academia.

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