Asher Boersma

Tracking Santa and Sinterklaas: Operators, Folklore, and the Pedagogy of the All-knowing Center

Although popular culture is the primary realm of control room representations – which is where scholarly attention has been drawn to (Deane 2015, 2021) – actual control rooms have been made public throughout their existence. The public role of control rooms in schemes of state legitimacy has even profoundly shaped their design (Boersma, forthcoming). In this paper two practices by control room operators are compared in which they insert their workplace and their expertise into existing pop folklore. In doing so the paper marks a further step in the integration of the two largely separate discourses of control room practice (in workplace studies) and promise (cultural studies). Ultimately, it shows that the pedagogy of the control room as all-knowing center operates in a continuum of patriarchal, disciplinarian societies. Moreover, the popularization of centralized monitoring of movement is part of state-legitimating efforts post-interventionist, behavioral turn in infrastructuring (Star 1999, Boersma 2018).

Asher Boersma is a postdoctoral researcher at Konstanz University. He focusses on the history and practice of nautical and maritime mobilities, and mediated control of waterway networks (Rhine, Danube, Northeastern Passage).

Selected publications:

Boersma, Asher (forthcoming): “Leitstellen als öffentliche Orte: Gatekeeping zwischen Prestige, Konzentration und Resignation.” In: Franziska Reichenbecher/Gabriele Schabacher (eds.), Medien des Gatekeeping. Akteure, Architekturen, Prozesse. Bielefeld: Transcript.

Boersma, Asher (2022): “Mediatisierte Wahrnehmung, infrastrukturiertes Wasser, situiertes Wissen: Entwurf einer Praxistheorie der nautischen Navigation.” In: Navigationen 22 (1), 93–115.

Boersma, Asher (2020): “Follow the Action: Understanding the Conflicting Temporalities of Ships, River, Authorities and Family Through Distributed Ethnography.” In: Mobilities 15 (5), 661–676.

Boersma, Asher/Judith Willkomm (2020): “Chips, Splinters and Emails from a German Workshop: On STS Concepts in Academic Justification.” In: Astrid Wiedmann/Katherin Wagenknecht/Philipp Goll/Andreas Wagenknecht (eds.), Wie forschen mit den Science and Technology Studies? Bielefeld: Transcript, 272–296

Boersma, Asher (2018): “Mediatisation of Work: A History of Control Room Practice.” In: Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 2, 113–132.

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