Putting Science in its Place

In some corners of anthropology, it has been said that science studies lacks a robust sense of place. But many capable ethnographers have brought labs, hospital suites, and production facilities to life, giving readers a granular sense for what distinguishes these sites from other milieux. What, precisely, might be missing? Consider the word “place.” As science studies scholars have repeatedly …



My friend Dr. Muñoz makes his own bleach.  He uses salt, water, and electrodes to render sodium hypochlorite.  To do this, he has colonized a small space in a garage-cum-storage unit nestled on the grounds of the Managua health center where he works.  His bleach-making is ad-hoc and off the books.  Dr. Muñoz doesn’t get extra money or time from …


Petri Dish

The petri dish was made for separation.  It was developed for culturing microorganisms while separating them from airborne contaminates.  As part of its ability to make separations between the contaminated world outside and the uncontaminated world inside, the dish also assisted in separating individuals from disease.  These days, it’s getting harder for petri dishes to maintain these separations.

Julius Richard …




Early anthropological experiments depended on tables to hold their equipment steady, at eye level, and off the ground. Photographs from the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits in 1898 make it clear that tables played an important role in the psychological experiments conducted by the anthropologists.

A table is a technology that stabilizes people and things in space …


TB/HIV: Distinct Histories, Entangled Futures. Towards an Epistemology of Co-infection

Communication never occurs without a transformation,
and indeed always involves a stylized remodelling,
which intracollectively achieves corroboration
and which intercollectively yields fundamental alteration.

(Fleck 1981, 111)

One office, two diseases, two disciplines. That’s where we started. And while sharing an office as post-doctoral researchers at the University of Zürich, that’s where we stumbled upon one of those “epistemological obstacles” – …