[Call for Papers] “Small Science: Perspectives on Contemporary Small-Scale Research” (Barcelona, 2-3 February 2023; Deadline 15 October 2022)

12 september 2022

The Institut d’Història de la Ciència iHC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona invites paper proposals for the international workshop Small Science: Perspectives on Contemporary Small-Scale Research. The event will take place in person on February 2-3, 2023 at the Institut d’Història de la Ciència, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. However, there will also be a virtual option for those choosing to attend remotely.

Through the second half of the 20th century, the rise of Big Science eclipsed researchers producing substantial knowledge with modest means. Since the turn of the century, however, a concern with small ways of knowing and doing is noticeable. Isabelle Stengers’ slow science, Manu Prakash’s frugal science, Sebastián Ureta’s ruination science, Rosi Braidotti’s minor science, Simon Werrett’s thrifty science… Increased attention is being paid, in the current planetary crisis, to humble yet effective research practices. The early modern approach to “achieving a balance between spending and buying new and saving and making use of things”, Werrett notices, seems to be “reemerging today”: “While people in the late-twentieth century supposed that the future of science would be mostly ‘big,’ as we enter the twenty-first century, it seems that the future will also be small” (2019: 196). We contend that small science has not ceased to be a relevant, if faintly visible feature of contemporary science.

Following a symposium on Small Science at the ESHS Conference in Brussels (September 2022), and building on an ongoing research project (PID2019-105131GB-I00 SMALLSCIENCE A historical survey of contemporary small-scale research), the workshop aims at placing recent concerns with small-scale research practices in historical perspective.

We invite papers exploring some of the historical strands converging in current small science projects. Amongst other questions, we should like to reflect on:

  • the uses and meanings of the category itself;
  • small science and science policy;
  • small science, repair and maintenance;
  • the relationship between small- and large-scale scientific practices;
  • the interplay between public and private interests in small-scale projects;
  • the connection between small science, lay and amateur research, and citizen science;
  • the historical roots of contemporary small science;
  • case-studies exemplifying small science and providing an empirical basis for discussion.

A paper proposal of up to 300 words and a brief CV are to be sent to xavier.roque@uab.cat before 15 October 2022. Submissions from early career researchers are welcome. Please state if you need support for accommodation. Limited funds are available from the organizers to cover part of the expenses.

There will also be a discussion about an edited journal issue or book, based on papers presented at the workshop. Decisions regarding inclusion will be made later by the editors.


  • Braidotti, R. “A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities”. Theory, Culture & Society 36, (2018): 31–61.
  • Martens, L., Cybulski, J. S., Clements, J. & Prakash, M. “Foldscope: Origami-Based Paper Microscope”. PLoS ONE 9, e98781, 2014: 1–11.
  • Stengers, I. Another Science is Possible. A Manifesto for Slow Science. Cambridge: Polity, 2018.
  • Ureta, S. “Ruination Science: Producing Knowledge from a Toxic World”. Science Technology and Human Values 46, 2021: 29–52.
  • Werrett, S. Thrifty Science. Making the Most of Materials in the History of Experiment. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2019.

Xavier Roqué (UAB, on behalf of the organising committee) Gemma Cirac-Claveras (UAB); Enric Pérez-Canals (UB); Eoin Phillips (URL)


Image credit: Edward Drinker Cope’s home, Wikimedia Commons.