Celebration of Leigh Star: Her Work and Intellectual Legacy

San Francisco, September 9th-10th, 2011

This NSF-funded workshop will celebrate the contributions of the late Susan "Leigh" Star (1954-2010) to the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies. The workshop will highlight Star’s intellectual contributions to the study of boundary objects, marginalities and suffering, and infrastructers.

Honoring the Work of
Leigh Star

Star became one of the most influential science studies intellectuals of the last decade. Along with other scholars, her work shifted the research agenda from a bibliometric and Mertonian preoccupation with the social organization of science to a focus on the production of scientific facts.

Drawing from pragmatism and the Chicago school's sociology of work, Star's scholarship highlighted the messy practice of discovering science. Where others conducted ethnographies of the work of laboratory scientists' manipulating tools and data to construct epistemic insights, Star quickly became drawn to the work behind the work: the countless, taken-for-granted and often dismissed practices of assistants, technicians, and students that made scientific breakthroughs possible.

One of her goals was to restore agency to scientific work by examining who did the actual work and who received credit for that work. Digging even deeper into the conditions that make science possible, Star foregrounded the infrastructure of classifications, technologies, paperwork, and regulations that constrained and constituted scientific work. She aimed for a radical symmetry in her work: not only evaluating the winners and losers of science evenhandedly but examining the lives of those caught up against their will in the new globalizing technoscientific regimes.