Katie Ulrich Annotations

STS Beyond Academia (https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/sketch-7-sts-beyond-academia/essay)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 4:46pm

My research is on sugarcane biotechnologies to make sugar-based bioproducsts, like biofuels and bioplastics, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I'm mid-way through my ethnographic research and I've been making a "sugar library" as I go, which is a catalog of various types of forms that I've encountered sugar(cane) in: it includes physical objects like sugarcane-based plastic bags; phone pictures, of ethanol prices at fuel stations or sugarcane fields in various places in the state of São Paulo, etc.; historical narratives about sugarcane in Brazil articulated by interlocutors and lay people alike; metrics and indicators related to sugarcane productivity; graphics and diagrams shared in presentations about sugarcane to industry actors and scientists; cellular phone applications for tracking field productivity; poems about sugarcane written by scientists; metaphors about the architecture of sugarcane cell walls; and many more. My aim was to trace how sugarcane takes different forms/is transformed in social, economic, and molecular ways across various sites and contexts, in order to think about how sugarcane is transformed (or not) from a crop with a violent history into a feedstock for new environmental and industrial futures. However, especially now that I'm partway through my fieldwork, I want to think further about making this sugar library into some kind of public interactive format. I'm not sure what this could look like, and if this would even be engaging or interesting to non-academics. I would need to think about who the audience is and what the purpose of sharing it would be, specifically. I would love to hear more thoughts during this sketch's discussion about different beyond-academia audiences.

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