Collection : Expertise: Cultures and Technologies of Knowledge

Expertise is dedicated to publishing innovative scholarship situated at the vibrant juncture of the anthropology of knowledge, science and technology studies, and new media studies. The proliferation of new technologies across the world today is generating new forms of knowledge and techniques of knowing that are in turn transforming existing practices and institutions. Understanding these emerging cultures of expertise ranks among the most challenging and rewarding horizons of the human sciences. Expertise seeks to extend this horizon and to create new opportunities for conversation and collaboration. We seek theoretically sophisticated, historically attuned works of ethnography from anthropologists and other scholars.

The following is an illustrative but not exhaustive list of areas of research and scholarship that interest us:

•Professions, professionalism, and cultures of expertise
•Technocracy, bureaucratic practices, and institutions
•Expertise and authority in scientific, technical, and medical communities
•The diversification of digital media and information technologies and their cultural and political effects
•New media and information practices in contemporary political and social movements
•The intersection of religious and spiritual knowledge with scientific and secular knowledge
•Late liberal and neosocialist forms of political expertise, administration, and management
•Contemporary efforts to commodify knowledge and capitalist knowledge industries and economies
•Globalization, transnational ecologies of expertise, and circulating forms of knowledge and information

The series editor for Expertise is Dominic Boyer, Department of Anthropology Rice University (


Praise for Expertise: Cultures and Technologies of Knowledge

"In Dominic Boyer's series, the long deferred and exotic anthropology of elites finally becomes, most productively, the ethnography of experts, on which so many lively topical openings in contemporary anthropological research depend. Experts are subjects, partners, sponsors, and audiences—all of which shape the spaces and questions that anthropologists distinctively create in their research. It is so important to have a series defined in this way, and it is exciting to watch as each new volume appears."
—George E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine

"Dominic Boyer's aptly named Expertise series tackles issues that are of pressing interest globally and that will likewise define anthropology’s future: the effects of new media and technology, the contemporary threat of disease, the spread of capitalist management techniques, and more. Boyer has assembled exceptional scholars who adroitly analyze these emerging conditions and the knowledge practices they call into being. The Expertise series is an important venue for exciting, innovative, and urgent work."
—Caitlin Zaloom, New York University

“Imaginative, sophisticated, and, yes, displaying extraordinary expertise, this series brings together remarkable studies of the social life of contemporary knowledges—and of the actors and institutions central to their transformation. Individually fascinating and grounded in the textures of emergent practice, these volumes together constitute a rich and generative conversation of real consequence.”
—Donald L. Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz

“For the last decade or so interest in the nature of expertise and the operation of cultures of expertise has moved from the margins to the center of anthropological research. The Expertise series published by Cornell University Press not only fully anticipated this trend but also has been in the forefront of defining its intellectual interests and its ethnographic ambitions. The series demonstrates how a bold new synthesis of disciplinary (and interdisciplinary) agendas is gaining articulation, a synthesis that demands serious attention to how theory and data themselves operate within cultures of expertise. Encompassing many of the most important and challenging areas of global knowledge production--media, religion, politics, medicine, science, and technology--the books in the series reveal the creative role of expertise in defining the institutional imperatives and the managerial practices of our time.”
—Douglas Holmes, Binghamton University

“In a more or less tacit sense, anthropology has always involved the study of expert knowledge and expert practice. But this indispensable new series from Cornell University Press invites us to confront the problem of expertise as a conceptual object in itself, one that is at once grounded in particular institutional settings and constantly in a state of translation across domains of media, science, politics, and entrepreneurship.”
—William Mazzarella, University of Chicago

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Portraits of a Practice
Thomas Yarrow
What is creativity? What is the relationship between work life and personal life? How is it possible to live truthfully in a world of contradiction and compromise? These deep and deeply personal questions spring to the fore in Thomas Yarrow's vivid exploration of the life of architects. Yarrow takes us inside the world of architects, showing us...

Anthropogenic Rivers
The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower
Jerome Whitington
In the 2000s, Laos was treated as a model country for the efficacy of privatized, "sustainable" hydropower projects as viable options for World Bank-led development. By viewing hydropower as a process that creates ecologically uncertain environments, Jerome Whitington reveals how new forms of managerial care have emerged in the context of a...

The Technocratic Antarctic
An Ethnography of Scientific Expertise and Environmental Governance
Jessica O'Reilly
The Technocratic Antarctic is an ethnographic account of the scientists and policymakers who work on Antarctica. Jessica O'Reilly conducted most of her research for this book in New Zealand, home of the "Antarctic Gateway" city of Christchurch, and on an expedition to Windless Bight, Antarctica, with the New Zealand Antarctic...

Governing Habits
Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic
Eugene Raikhel
Governing Habits is an ethnography of extraordinary sensitivity and awareness that shows how therapeutic practice and expertise is expressed in the highly specific, yet rapidly transforming milieu of hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers in post-Soviet Russia.

An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise
Penny Harvey, Hannah Knox
Sweeping in scope and conceptually ambitious, this book tells a story of infrastructure and of global flows of money, goods, and...

Swedish Design
An Ethnography
Keith M. Murphy
This book examines the special relationship between politics and design in Sweden, revealing in particular the cultural meanings this relationship holds for Swedish...

The Viral Network
A Pathography of the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic
Theresa MacPhail
Theresa MacPhail examines our collective fascination with and fear of viruses through the lens of the 2009 H1N1...

The Light of Knowledge
Literacy Activism and the Politics of Writing in South India
Francis Cody
This ethnography details the activities of Arivoli Iyakkam (the Enlightenment Movement), in which thousands of Tamil villagers in southern India have participated in literacy lessons, science demonstrations, and other events.

Scrambling for Africa
AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science
Johanna Tayloe Crane
Crane reveals how Africa went from being a continent largely excluded from advancements in HIV medicine to an area of central concern and knowledge production within the increasingly popular field of global health science.

The Life Informatic
Newsmaking in the Digital Era
Dominic Boyer
A fascinating account of journalists struggling to maintain their expertise and authority, even as they find their principles and skills profoundly challenged by ever more complex and fast-moving streams of information.

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