CALL FOR PAPERS: Special Issue On Critique And Complicity: STS And Global Health


Background and Rationale

This call for papers is concerned with two disciplinary fields, commonly referred to as ‘STS’ and ‘Global Health’, and how they encounter each other. The special issue will provoke discussion about the analytical, methodological and practical encounters of these fields and the nature of that engagement. STS has exposed the often latent political and economic interests which infuse seemingly objective scientific data and practices, troubling ideas of expertise and the neutrality of scientific knowledge. In so doing, the STS sensibilities of impartiality and symmetry have proved incisive analytical tools in examining science and technology. In bringing these two strands together, we also aim to shed light on STS’s sets of “methodological reality practices” (Law 2008), which have often posited STS as first and foremost a critical enterprise which is non-interventional, apolitical, agnostic, and symmetrical.


This special issue has two overarching aims. The first is to scrutinise the taken-for-granted features of Global Health knowledge production apparatuses such as ethics, experimentation and standardization. These mundane infrastructures are the everyday elements of a well-oiled machinery which span multiple geographies and interests. The second aim is to trouble the grand narratives and assumptions underpinning many Global Health projects, such as race, gender, innovation, emergency and empowerment. Often, these universalising categories are used to justify interventions; explain why things go wrong; or make global standards appear self-evident. This special issue will show how such categories are used strategically to organise the various types work involved in Global Health and thus play a role in creating, rather than merely representing, the realities they describe.

In light of these aims, we invite authors to examine questions such as:


  • What kinds of knowledge production and governance processes are evident in Global Health? How are boundaries crossed, produced and maintained? How do context and history shape Global Health programmes? How are different communities and forms of expertise produced, involved and enacted? What is the role of bioethics in such programmes?
  • In what ways do Global Health interventions challenge or extend STS sensibilities? Does an engagement with Global Health trouble STS’s traditional badges of honour?
  • Can engagement be a constructive endeavour for both fields, when such divergent epistemological grounds underpin their respective practices?
Issues that could be addressed include, among others: practices within global clinical trials; the development of Global Health technologies (drugs, diagnostics, vaccines, and service delivery strategies); experimental public health interventions; access to medicines and health care; population surveillance programmes; novel collaborative partnerships (including civil society and activist groups); and governance mechanisms in regulating these.


If you are interested, please submit your paper by 15 September 2015. However, we strongly encourage authors to contact us with an expression of interest as soon as possible or to submit their paper earlier. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the journal guidelines for authors ( and will be peer reviewed following the journal’s normal review process and criteria. For further information and submissions please contact the guest editors using the email:

Guest editors

Catherine Montgomery (University of Amsterdam), Salla Sariola (Ethox Centre, Oxford), Patricia Kingori (Ethox Centre, Oxford), Nora Engel (Maastricht University)