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Retreat 2009


The 2009 STS Retreat was held at the Marin Headlands institute from Friday, June 26 - Sunday, June 28. Below is an overview of the amazing time we spent together!

Friday 26:

12:00-1:00 p.m.:      Lunch!

1:00-3:30 p.m.:       Introductions: STS in 3 minutes

4:00-6:00 p.m.:       Dissertation Proposal Groups

6:00-7:00 p.m.:       Dinner!

Saturday 27:

8:00-9:00 a.m.:       Breakfast!

9:00-11:00 a.m.:      Mini-Workshop: “Problem Based Learning curriculum in STS” by Brian Dolan

11:00-12:00 p.m.:    Tom Boellstorff will introduce some guidelines for his workshop on Sunday.

12:00-1:00 p.m.:      Lunch!

1:00 3:30 p.m.:        Writing/Granting/Jobbing Groups (self-organize)

4:00-6:00 p.m.:       Mini-Workshop: “SF Borderlands” by Eben Kirksey and Marnia Johnston

6:00-7:00 p.m.:       Dinner!

Sunday 28:

8:00-9:00 a.m.:       Breakfast!

9:00-11:00 a.m.:      Mini-Workshop: “Virtual Worlds” by Tom Boellstorff

11:00-12:00 p.m.:    Lessons and Plans for Next Year

12:00-1:00 p.m.:      Lunch!



Workshop I: “Virtual worlds” by Tom Boellstorff

This workshop will help people think about how to use ethnographic methods to think about virtual worlds, social networking sites, blogs, etc. Since we have extremely limited internet, we’ll turn the lemon of limited computers/Internet access into lemonade! There will be two activities:

#1 PostBook. We will create a post-it networking site on the walls. We’ll watch it grow and see what people do with it, and then talk about how to analyze it and by extension social networking sites.

#2 Actual-world fieldnotes. We’ll treat the Marin Headlands site as a virtual virtual world, and people will be assigned short field entries focusing on placemaking, sociality, subjectivity, and governance. Then we’ll discuss what we find from this (and the PostBook exercise) in light of the readings.

Tom will bring some pens and post-it notes, but asks that students bring along anything they have laying around that might prove interesting to work with for this exercise: more post-it notes, tacks, small pieces of paper, string, scissors, tape, and anything else that crosses your mind (within reason!).


BARNES, J.A. (1954). “Class and committees in a Norwegian island Parish”. Human Relations 7(1): 39-58.

REED, Adam (2008). “ ‘Blog this’: surfing the metropolis and the method of London”. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14(2): 391-406.


BOELLSTORFF, Tom (2003). “Dubbing culture: Indonesian gay and lesbi subjectivities and ethnography in an already globalized world”. American Ethnologist 30(2): 225-242.


Workshop II: “Problem Based Learning curriculum in STS” by Brian Dolan

The session as will be a brainstorming/share ideas and experiences session about how we teach STS, how we imagine our learning objectives, and how we might implement a problem based learning approach (modified case-based studies) to go beyond more conventional reading/discussion seminars.


DAHLAGREN, Madeleine Abrandt and Guilla ÖBERG (2001). “Questioning to learn and learning to question: structure and function of problem-based learning scenarios in environmental science education”. Higher Education 41(3): 263-282.

GALISON, Peter (2008). “Ten problems in history and philosophy of science”. Isis 99(1): 111-124.


Workshop III: “SF Borderlands” By Eben Kirksey / Marnia Johnston

In this workshop we will create an ethnographic para-site on the borderlands of San Francisco—where science fictions and speculative fabulations meet up with actual robots and living chimera.  We will collectively invent some original tales that speak to our anxieties, hopes, and theoretical concerns.  Dividing up into groups, each with their own robot or semi-living being, we will be given a mission from Anna Tsing’s Game of Global Futures.  You might be asked to “corrupt a nation’s government” or “revitalize an ancient philosophy.”  Each group will produce a plausible story (possibly with a multi-media slide show) that fulfills the mission and that speaks to broader concerns in the STS literature.


TSING, Anna and Elizabeth POLLMAN (2005). “Global futures: the game”. In: ROSENBERG, Daniel and Susan HARDING (eds.), Histories of the future, pp. 105-122. Durham and London, Duke University Press.


DUMIT, Joseph (2008). “Foreword: Biological feedback”. In: da COSTA, Beatriz and Kavita PHILIP (eds.), Tactical biopolitics. Art, activism, and technoscience, pp. xi-xiv. Cambridge and London, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press (MIT).

MARCUS, George E. (2006). “Notes on the Contemporary Imperative to Collaborate”. Anthropology of the Contemporary Research Collaboratory (ARC).

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