Research group for the ethnographic inquiry into ecologies, infrastructures, bodies and knowledges
Renaming the lab

Renaming the lab

Dear Friends of the STS Lab at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,

as you can see, our Lab has renamed itself. It is now the ‘Laboratory: Anthropology of Environment|Human Relations’.

We continue to be committed to science and technology studies and to ethnographic theorising through an open space for work in progress, experiments, 
collaborative writing and peer support. Yet exciting developments at our institutional home - the Institute of European Ethnology - have made the change
necessary. Firstly, we have appointed with Tahani Nadim and Ignacio Farias two quite brilliant scholars whose research is heavily infused with STS 
thinking and who are both very active and visible within EASST. Secondly, other areas such as media anthropology and discussions around postcolonial 
theory are also increasingly intersecting with STS thought.

So STS flourishes at Humboldt in different fields of research. Naming one of these fields 'STS Lab' simply does not make sense. While we have been doing
a lot of thinking across fields in the past and hope to continue to do so in the future, our respective fields of research and interest also remain distinct. 
Labelling therefore needs to occur at the level of themes and fields not perspective:

Laboratory: Anthropology of Environment|Human Relations

The lab was founded in 2004 by Stefan Beck and Jörg Niewöhner as the Collaboratory: Social Anthropology and Life Sciences. It has since continuously shifted,
but remained true to the idea of co-labor(at)ing with each other and with our various epistemic partners in our fields of research.

We see our approach within the broad and multi-facetted tradition of social and cultural anthropology, including its German-speaking strand of European Ethnology. 
We have dropped the ‘social and cultural’ to reference our background in science and technology studies, the material turn and our understanding of ‘the social’ 
as always already entangled with environments, artefacts, infrastructure and bodies.

Environment | Human Relations
Human-Environment relations or interactions is a term largely occupied by ecological and systemic thinking in the biological and human sciences. While we 
co-laborate with these thought styles, we are keen to explore ethnographically how these relations are enacted rather than assuming them within a particular 
epistemological position. We also want to emphasise the environment to avoid its reduction to symbol or metaphor. (cf. Niewöhner & Lock 2018)
The vertical bar ‘|’ marks our inquiry into an open, dynamic and often ambivalent and excessive relationship. We take our cue here from Stefan Beck’s 
inaugural lecture at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin entitled “Nature | Culture: Thoughts on a relational anthropology”. ‘Relations’ summons 
elective affinities including Gregory Bateson, Marilyn Strathern, Stefan Beck, Annemarie Mol, to name but a few with a lifelong interest in relentlessly 
relational research and thought.

While we stand on the shoulders of environmental and ecological anthropology as well as cultural ecology, the ‘of’ emphasises the STS inflection of our 
perspective. We study environment|human relations as always already known within situated ecologies of expertise.

We hope you like the new name. If you don’t, don’t update the cache of your internet browser and come along anyway.

Have a productive and enjoyable summer!