Anthropology of Science and Technology

Though most often studied as independent bodies of knowledge, science and technology pervade everyday life, politics, and knowledge production. Increasingly, participation in political and public life demands fluency with languages of technoscience; such fluency affects peoples’ ability to be “successful” patients, consumers, and community members.

Scholars in Stanford’s anthropology department engage the implications of technoscience and contribute analytic methods to better understanding the larger question of how scientific knowledge and the practices of technoscientific experts intersect processes of social life, governance, and human suffering. Angela Garcia works on scientific imaginaries of drug addiction and the way these shape therapeutic and juridical responses as well as the subjective experiences of drug users themselves. Lochlann Jain has written on the politics and history of product design in the context of personal injury law, and is currently completing a book on cancer. Tanya Luhrmann has studied the practice of psychiatry in the United States. Matthew Kohrman has investigated science and technopolitics in the domains of disability and tobacco. James Ferguson has a long-standing interest in the critical study of social-scientific ideas of “development”, and has more recently been engaged in a study of the “policy science” of poverty and social assistance in contemporary southern Africa. Duana Fullwiley has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on genetics in laboratories and hospitals in France, Senegal, and the United States. Her work in Dakar shows how French colonial ideas of Senegalese population specificity, geopolitics of contemporary African nation states, and economic restructuring of the state health sector influenced early population genetic findings that cast Senegalese sickle cell anemia as "mild." In the U.S. Fullwiley has worked in multiple labs where researchers hope to determine the genetics of racialized continental ancestry for identity quests, disease diagnostics, and pharmaceutical development for niche target populations that are largely comprised of American minorities.