Beyond innovation, maintain and make last

Focused on the dynamics of innovation, Science and Technology Studies have left aside the more ordinary aspect of sociotechnical assemblages, neglecting the activities dedicated to ensuring their stability and their persistence. In recent years, these activities have however become increasingly important. With the deepening of the climate crisis and the amplification of heath crises, issues related to the sustainability, continuity in activity and life span of things and people have gradually imposed themselves as a counterpoint to the obsessions with innovation and the omnipresent figure of disruption. What can these concerns teach us about the way of existence of scientific and technical devices, beyond the innovation process? How are the conditions of permanence and sustainability organized in different fields? How are time and futures problematized?

Extending the works on valuation devices, researches on the history and the use of the accounting technique of actualization of the future (discounting) show how duration and long term have progressively been problematized from an investment perspective. Actualization leads to think of time as a depreciation, whose technical and political rationale is crucial to question.

The CSI is one of the places where Maintenance and Repair Studies have recently emerged as an interdisciplinary research area that explores the variety of activities dedicated to the maintenance of technical objects, from small objects of daily consumption to the most complex infrastructures. In the past few years, the political, technical and material issues involved in urban maintenance have been areas of particular interest. More recently, the CSI has initiated a research partnership with the Institut pour la recherche appliquée et l’expérimentation en génie civil (IREX) [Institute for Applied Research and Experimentation in Civil Engineering] and Routes de France to study the contemporary transformations in the asset management of transport infrastructures.

One of the peculiarities of the CSI’s work on this subject is their desire not to artificially separate what comes down to the maintenance of things on the one hand and the support for humans on the other. On the contrary, the challenge is to question the modalities of care in the broad sense of the term, which combines care for artifacts, care for the environment and care for people.

Projects:

La gestion patrimoniale des réseaux d’eau en France [Water stewardship in France] (Gespare)

L’effacement des graffiti à Paris [Graffiti erasure in Paris]

Seminar:

Maintaining/Supporting: fragility as a mode of existence

PhD theses:

Mathieu Baudrin, Maintenir la technologie aérosol et son industrie : une enquête sur les collectifs industriels (1958-2017) / Maintaining aerosol technology and its industry : an inquiry into the industrial collectives (1958-2017)

Evan A. Fisher, Le triage humanitaire. Les responsabilités et les compétences de Médecins Sans Frontières / Humanitarian Triage. The responsibilities and competencies of Doctors Without Borders

Roman Solé-Pomies, Gestion patrimoniale et anticipation des nouveaux usages : quelle gouvernance locale pour des infrastructures routières durables ? / Maintaining and Foreseeing New Uses: Mutations in Local Governance for Sustainable Road Infrastructures

Publications:

Jérôme Denis, David Pontille, 2019, Why do maintenance and repair matter?

Liliana Doganova, 2018, Discounting and the making of the future: on uncertainty in forest management and drug development

Antoine Hennion, 2017, Attachments, you say? … How a concept collectively emerges in one research group