Boxes: A Field Guide

A book full of boxes. A box in itself. An unboxing. This book explores boxes in their broadest sense and size. It invites us to step into the field, unravel how and why things are contained and how it might be otherwise. By turning the focus of Science and Technology Studies (STS) to boxing practices, this collation of essays examines boxes as world-making devices.

Gathered in the format of a field guide, it offers an introduction to ways of ordering the world, unpacking their boxed-up, largely invisible politics and epistemics. Performatively, pushing against conventional uses of academic books, this volume is about rethinking taken-for-granted formats and infrastructures of scholarly ordering – thinking, writing, reading. It diverges from encyclopedic logics and representative overviews of boxing practices and the architectural organization of monographs and edited volumes through a single, overarching argument.

This book asks its users to leave well-trodden paths of linear and comprehensive reading and invites them to read sideways, creating their own orders through associations and relating. Thus, this book is best understood as an intervention, a beginning, an open box, a slim volume that needs expansion and further experiments with ordering by its users.



1 The Generative Possibilities of the Wrong Box
Martina Schlünder

2 The Epistemology of the Familiar: A Hymn to Pandora
Maria Rentetzi

3 Navigation Tools for Studying Boxes: A User’s Manual
Susanne Bauer


4 Inscribing the Soul: Cerebral Ventricles as Symbolic and Material Boxes
Jameson Kısmet Bell

5 Better Shelter
Emily Brownell

6 Slide Box: How to Stock Some Thousand Cancer Cases
Ulrich Mechler

7 System Box (Tray) with Wasp
Tahani Nadim


8 Thinking Inside the Box: The Construction of Knowledge in a Miniature Seventeenth-Century Cabinet
Stephanie Bowry

9 Musical Instrument Boxes. Hidden Information: Cases for Musical Instruments and Their Functions
Beatrix Darmstädter

10 Boxing Crickets: A Taxonomy of Containers for Singing and Fighting Ensifera
Martina Siebert


11 Contesting the Box: Museums and Repatriation
Stewart Allen

12 Archaeology and Cigarettes: ‘Ekphora’ and ‘Periphora’ of the Archaeological Identity through Cigarette Packs
Styliana Galiniki and Eleftheria Akrivopoulou

13 More than a Toy Box: Dandanah and the Sea of Stories
Artemis Yagou


14 The Ur-Box: Multispecies Take-off from Noah’s Ark to Animal Air Cargo
Nils Güttler, Martina Schlünder, Susanne Bauer

15 Parcels Render Neglected People Visible
Tanja Hammel

16 Boxes, Infrastructure and the Materiality of Moral Relations: Aid and Respect after Cyclone Pam
Alexandra Widmer


17 ‘As Modern As Tomorrow’: The Medicine Cabinet
Deanna Day

18 The Green Minna: Transporting Police Detainees in Imperial Berlin
Eric J. Engstrom

19 Scaling Up from the Bench: Fermentation Tank
Victoria Lee

20 Deep Time History: The Lure of the Black Box
Dagmar Schäfer


21 Panels and Frames: Toward a New Relationship between Text and Image in Academic Writing
Pit Arens and Martina Schlünder

22 Analogue Privacy: The Paper Shredder as a Technology for Knowledge Destruction
Sarah Blacker


23 Biobank Boxes: Technologies of Population
Susanne Bauer

24 The Magic of Dropbox, its Virtuality and Materiality
Shih-Pei Chen


25 Domestic Reservoirs: Managing Drinking Water in Taiwanese Households
Yi-Ping Cheng

26 Keep Calm and Carry One: The Civilian Gas Mask Case and its Containment of British Emotions
Mats Fridlund

27 Cardboard Box: The Politics of Materiality
Maria Rentetzi


28 Petri dish (boîte de Petri, Petrischale)
Mathias Grote

29 Prussian Census Box: Moving and Freezing Data
Christine von Oertzen

30 Black-Boxing Knowledge: Glass Dosimeters and Governmental Control
Maria Rentetzi 


31 The Mirror Trap
Etienne S. Benson

32 Shifting Medical Bottles: In Between Medical and Indigenous Worlds
Johanna Gonçalves Martín

33 Guarding the Memory: Photographic Glass Plates Negatives’ Boxes
Mirka Palioura, Spyridoula Pyrpili, Myrto Vouleli

34 Lousy Research: The History of Typhus Vaccine Production, 1915–1945
Martina Schlünder


35 The Mechanic’s Toolbox and Tool Chest: A Nexus of the Personal and the Social
Don Duprez

36 Surgeons’ Chests from the Mary Rose
Hanako Endo

37 Ruminations on an Electrotherapeutic Box
Jan Eric Olsén

38 Reliquary: A Box for a Relic
Lucy Razzall

39 The Research Box
Bonnie Mak and Julia Pollack

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