Postdoctoral Fellow in Informatics, Department of Veterans Affairs
Research Associate, Divison of Epidemiology, University of Utah
Contributor, Platypus, The CASTAC Blog
My research to date has focused on the institutionalization of 'the environment' as a technopolitical problem in Ecuador with a special focus on biodiversity.
Contributions to Platypus, The CASTAC Blog
By: Peter Taber, Nicholas Rattray, Lauren Penney, Megan McCullough and Samantha Gottlieb This post emerged from a 2018 Society for Applied Anthropology panel on anthropological engagements with health data in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Serving over 9 million enrollees with a current federal budget of USD68 billion, the VA is an important testing site for digital healthcare infrastructure, as it has been for several decades. The panel brought our VA research and quality improvement (QI) efforts targeting the electronic health record (EHR) and other digital infrastructure into dialog with existing work on the social lives of data and algorithms, as well as the broader concerns of medical anthropology and STS in an era of the “datafication of health” (Ruckenstein and Schüll 2017). Extracts from our conversation, presented below, are taken from a follow-up video call exploring these issues. (more…) (read more...)
I’m a sociocultural anthropologist by training. Until recently, my research focused on environmental issues in Ecuador. Yet, my attempt to address the gaps left by traditional anthropological approaches to environmental issues quickly brought me into topical areas that the anthropology I was trained in infrequently touched on: institutional change over historical time, knowledge infrastructure work, and particularly the functioning and interaction of modern forms of expertise. I’m now a postdoctoral fellow in medical informatics at the U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration. It is an odd organizational context to find myself in, as someone who conceived of himself as an environmental anthropologist for years. Yet many of the big themes are strikingly familiar. In particular, I am surrounded by (and participating in) the expert design of sociotechnical contexts intended to be inhabited by other experts – an aspect of environmental expertise that fascinated me in my environmentally-focused research. In my postdoc, I’m (read more...)
Lisa: Into the Extreme is an ethnography of human space flight based on fieldwork at NASA Johnson Space Center most prominently, but then also other space sites throughout the United States. What I think is most significant about this book is that it activates “system” as an ethnographic object. Valerie Olson, the author of Into the Extreme, defines system as a relational technology. To me this is the big picture of the book, so I would like to start by diving right into that terminology. Can you just unpack what you mean when you say that system is a relational technology? Valerie: Sure. So I got introduced to systems thinking and systems engineering through my project because it is the practice, the basic modality, that NASA uses to coordinate vastly different practices and disciplines. People doing medicine, building spacecraft, working on propulsion, doing planetary science, and doing work on (read more...)