Conference Panel Organizer and Presenter . 2021
4S / Society for the Social Studies of Science 

Panel Brief: 
This panel will engage the concept of emergence in environmental infrastructures. Emergence here is considered broadly to include the becoming of practices, discourses, and relations in excess of planned, material infrastructures for the valuation and control of environmental resources be they water, land, air, or other. Emergence is a familiar concept in complex systems theory that describes self-organizing systems like flocking and more generally describes anything that results beyond a mere sum of parts. The study of infrastructure is one of STS’s longstanding concerns regarding the commonplace sociotechnical systems that support the circulation of materials, people, and knowledge (Star and Ruhleder; Chattopadhyay; Bowker; Edwards et. al.; Anand, Gupta, and Appel; Simone). Yoked together, emergence in environmental infrastructures includes unanticipated outcomes that can influence material processes, practices, interdependencies, scripts, instruments, and institutions on a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

We welcome papers that engage with questions such as: How can the concept of emergence deepen our understanding of the effects of environmental infrastructures? What can it tell us about implicated communities and technical systems and their corresponding epistemologies, ontologies, attunements, and politics? How can emergence in turn influence how we observe, analyze, document, and publicize environmental issues? We invite intersectional approaches that engage feminist, decolonial & postcolonial science and technology studies in order to gather expansive ways to identify relations and discourses that emerge from environmental infrastructures within conditions of inequality and uncertainty.

Keywords: emergence, infrastructure, environments, built environment, interdependencies

Presentation Abstract:
Understanding the impact of environmental governance on urban futures requires analyzing the relations involved in negotiating over-regulation and under-regulation of toxics within the risk-based environmental regulatory regime of the United States. In this talk, I argue that striking this balance to produce outcomes for state-driven regulatory programs is vitally dependent on a social infrastructure composed of long-standing relations amongst community members. This social infrastructure scaffolds various configurations of interactions across time, territorial scales, and federal, state, and local levels of participation and governance to achieve outcomes such as the enforcement of emissions reductions and land rezoning. Through a case of regulating chrome plating in Southern California, I examine one of many social infrastructure configurations that reveal factors that compound or curtail the desired effects of the regulatory regime in a time of late industrialism. Specifically, I tease out factors at the nexus of toxics, taste, and trust to argue that social infrastructures manage relations of trust and mistrust, which in turn can highlight issues such as cultural taste that are rarely addressed in regulatory discourse but can stymie the advance of the regulatory regime. I conclude that the environmental regulatory regime doesn’t merely involve developing and implementing rules and standards but also fragile and provisional social relations to organize how various stakeholders assert their power or lack thereof in urban environmental governance towards more just futures.


[Panel #1] Liam Healy will unsettle care and control to examine a transformed borderscape in the refugee and migrant camp in Calais through his design and research practice attuned to vulnerability. 🚴🏼-🚴🏼

[Panel #1] Shana Hirsh will discuss emergent practices in highly uncertain watershed restoration efforts in the Methow river in northern Washington through a case of the "beaver dam analog" 🦫

[Panel #1] I will discuss emergent configurations of social infrastructures from efforts of the regulatory regime for air pollution and toxics through 2 cases of chrome plating in urban areas of southern California ☣️

[Panel #2] Daniel Williford will provide a post-colonial analysis of emergent affects in 2 infrastructural megaprojects in post-independence Morocco -- a recent solar power station and a historic cement plant, both contributing to nation-building. ☀️

[Panel #2] Aarti Latkar and Aalok Khandelkar examine emergent service practices & their limitations in the management of municipal solid waste in south India by conceptualizing it as a liminal space of functional and dysfunctional relations. 🗑

[Panel #2] Dana Burton will present emergent encounters in interplanetary relations when martian life is brought into proximity with that of the earth, through her research at NASA on astrobiological sample collection and return from Mars. 🌍 👉🏽👈🏽 🔴