From Affect to Action: Choices in Attending to Disconcertment in Interdisciplinary Collaborations

  • Smolka, M. (Speaker)
  • Erik Fisher (Speaker)
  • Alexandra Hausstein (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation / Performance / SpeechesTalk or presentation - at conferenceAcademic


The role of affect in interdisciplinary collaborations across socio-technical divides has long been neglected largely due to predominant images of science and scholarship as rational, cognitive endeavours. However, the tensions that emerge in such collaborations due to differences in values, agendas, and epistemologies are as much cognitive as they are bodily felt. We elucidate the role of affective disturbances in interdisciplinary collaborations by analysing what Helen Verran refers to as “disconcertment” in the empirical data of three Socio-Technical Integration Research (STIR) studies. For the analysis, we develop a heuristic that weaves together disconcertment, affective labour, and responsivity to provide a deeper insight in the role of the body in interdisciplinary collaborations. We draw out how bodies do affective labour in the process of generating responsivity between collaborators in moments of disconcertment. Responsive bodies can function as sensors, sources, and processors for disconcerting experiences of difference. We further show how paying attention to disconcertment can stimulate methodological choices to amplify, overcome, or recognise difference between collaborators. Although these choices vary considerably, they generate responsivity, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and collaborative knowledge production. With this analysis of disconcertment we contribute to emergent discussions within Science & Technology Studies on the relation between affect and collaborative action in interdisciplinary engagements.
Period20 Aug 2020
Event titleEASST/4S 2020 Conference: Located and Timing Matters: Significance and agency of STS in emerging worlds
Event typeConference
LocationPrague, Czech RepublicShow on map