Sketch1: Project Hopping
Sketch2: Habits, Talents Neuroses
Sketch3: Biosketch 2033
Sketch4 Wishlist 2052
Sketch5 Delineating a Project / Project Definition
Sketch:6: Hierarchy of Research Questions
Sketch7: Research Design Grid
Sketch8: Three Literatures
Sketch9: Core Categories
Sketch10: Structuring a Project
Sketch11: Historicizing a Project
Sketch12: Peoplng a Project
Sketch 16: Methodological, Empirical, Theoretical and Practical Contributions

Sketch23: Hegemonic Backdrops
Sketch25: Shifts in Sign Systems

Sketch1:**Project Hopping**
In the field for “topic” make sure to include sufficient explanation. I shouldn’t have to google the topic to know what it is. You need to begin to represent your research in a way that makes sense to other people, using the process of articulation to push your own understanding of where your interests lie (sic).

"Data sets" are sets of material you could draw on to build an argument/narrative: participant-observation at x place; interviews with y and z; specific policy docs; archival materials available at c; ect.

Social theoretical questions are not research questions. They are questions asked by social analysts across sites – about how expertise is configured and works, for example. Thinking in these terms sets you up to build on the work of other scholars, and to make a contribution to an on-going scholarly conversation. Thinking in these terms should also allow you to see threads that cut across possibly diverse topical interests, suggesting where you want to build theoretical expertise. Thinking in these terms doesn’t, however, necessarily set you up to make grand theoretical claims, which are often essentialist: Expertise is x, y and g. Engineers think like this and that. Instead, one thinks theoretically to contribute to the repertoire of questions scholars bring to the analysis of a given phenomena. Marx, for example can be thought of as teaching us to ask about the ways class, modes and relations of production and fetishism shape social life. Rather than as the final word on how class and capitalism work.

In asking “why now?” I want you to consider the particular historical moment in which you work, and need to make a contribution. There are holes in the social science and humanities literature to attend to. There are also political problems and windows of opportunities.

In the field for "how prepared," I want you to describe the expertise and experience that you already have that would enrich the project and make it feasible. Even if you consider yourself quite unprepared, articulate the skills, experience, contacts, sympathies and aversions you can leverage to advance the project. Whatever makes you interested in a project, prepares you in some way to undertake it.

Bias? Don’t forget gendering, class, and educational background.

In the field for "fields of work," I'm looking for a list of academic or professional fields that the project would position you to enter. Please be as specific as possible. If you list “sociology,” for example, designate what kind of niche you could fill or job ad you could respond to. You could position yourself as a sociologist, with focus on environment and social movements, for example. Browse the jobs listed at the website of various professional organization to get a sense of how jobs in particular fields are configured. The American Anthropological Association lists jobs here, for example:

With funders, like “fields of work,” be very specific. What programs at NSF would fund your research? NIH funds some dissertation work, but usually with some kind of applied dimension. What specific programs in industry fund research of the sort you propose? Look around online, perhaps talk to Dean Button, to specify.

**Sketch2: Habits, Neuroses, Talents**
Questions drawn from essays by Evelyn Fox Keller and Roman Jakobson (Jakobson, Roman. 1956.“Two aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances.’” Fundamentals of Language edited by R. Jakobson and M. Halle. The Hague, Switzerland: Mouton.; Keller, Evelyn Fox. 1985. “Dynamic Objectivity: Love, Power and Knowledge,” p115-126. Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven: Yale, 1985.):

• Do you have more trouble articulating your frame (social theoretical questions) or object?

• Do you tend to project-hop or to stick to a project, and what explains this?

• Do you tend to be more interested in internal dynamics, or external determinations? In the terms laid out by Keller, do you tend to focus so intently on the object of your concern that context falls away (i.e. are you obsessive compulsive, rather than paranoid)? Is your desire is to name, specify and control your object? Is your desire is for figure, its ground your annoyance? Or are you paranoid, context being your focus and obsession? All is signal. Only begrudgingly will you admit that something is noise, outside the scope of your project? Figure is hard to come by. Its ground has captured your attention.

• What do you do with unusual or counter examples? Are you drawn to “the deviant,” or rather repulsed by it?

• Do you tend to over-impose logics on the world, or to resist the construction of coherent narratives?

• Do you tend to over-generalize, or to hold back from overarching argument?

• Do you like to read interpretations different than your own, or do you tend to feel scooped or intimidated by them?

• Do you tend to change an argument as you flesh it out, or do you tend to make the argument work, no matter what?

• Do you tend to think in terms of “this is kind of like” (metaphorically)? Do you hold to examples that “say it all,” leveraging metonymic thinking?

• Do you like gaming understanding in this way? Does it frustrate you that your answers often don’t fit easily on either side of the binaries set up by the questions? (Jakobson suggests that over attachment to a simple binary scheme is a “continuity disorder.”)

Sketch3: Biosketch, 2033
In this sketch, you should write both a key word and a 200-400 narrative biosketch as you imagine your will be in the year 2033. Examples are below; you should look around the Internet for other examples

The biosketch should articulate your cumulative expertise, and provide a narrative that links the various projects you have undertaken together. There can be a number of streams of work, but the effect should seem coherent. The biosketch should indicate how STS provided critical background and a vantage point that distinguishes you from scholars coming from the traditional disciplines.

Biosketch for Mike Fortun, 2008 (PhD History of Science, Harvard, 1993)
Mike Fortun is an associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA. He is co-editor (with Kim Fortun) of Cultural Anthropology, the journal of the Society for Cultural Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association. A historian of the life sciences, his current research focuses on the contemporary science, culture, and political economy of genomics. His work in the life sciences has covered the policy, scientific, and social history of the Human Genome Project in the U.S., the history of biotechnology, and the growth of commercial genomics and bioinformatics in the speculative economies of the 1990s. His most recent work is Promising Genomics: Iceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation (University of California Press 2008), an ethnographic account of deCODE Genetics in Iceland. His other recent ethnographic work on toxicogenomics, and on the use of race variables in genetics research on complex conditions (nicotine use and asthma), is based in ongoing involvement with “transdisciplinary” groups of geneticists, physicians, historians, legal and policy scholars, and anthropologists centered at the Institute for Health Care Research at Georgetown University and the Institute for Health Policy at Harvard University.

Keyword Biosketch for Donna Haraway, 2008
Donna J. Haraway, Professor of History of Consciousness and Women's Studies 
Academic Interests: Feminist theory, historical and cultural studies of modern science and technology, relation of life and human sciences, animal studies

Also see
Sharon Traweek at

Paul Edwards at

Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Starr at

Cary Wolfe at

Sketch4: Wishlist, 2052
In this sketch, make a long list of topics, issues, questions and places that you hope to research over the next 40 years. Taking care of this list over the course of your career will help you make decisions about projects you should join, or not, and about how to elaborate or delimit any project you are involved in.

Sketch 5: Delineating a Project
This sketch should articulate three things your research and book could be "about." Include three paragraphs, each of which articulates a possible focus of a project in the area you have delineated.

My research in and about Bhopal could, for example, have focused on the experience of gas leak survivors, or it could have focused on health care responders. Instead, in the end, the book had three foci:

1) advocacy as a practice (my argument was that advocacy was not about belief, commitment and solidarity, in the way made virtuous by idealization of figures like Che Guevara)

2) emerging world order (my argument was that emerging world order was not “harmonized” as promised by advocates of free trade and the WTO).

3) what “Bhopal” signified (my argument, more demonstrated more than overt) was that Bhopal meant different things to different groups).

My dissertation had the beginning of the “advocacy as a practice” focus in its focus on the writing strategies of middle class activists, and on ways writing (and thinking about writing) helped activists understand and position themselves in the world.

Sketch 6: Hierarchy of Research Questions
There are examples of nested research questions in the two NSF funded proposals that you are assigned to read this week. Here is a sample hierarchy of questions from the proposal to study the scientific community working on nitrogen fixation. You should have three levels of questions: 1) Social theory questions These are questions that need to be asked again and again, across projects. You should have 1-4 social theory questions for your project. Example: How does capitalism undergird and undermine sustainability initiatives?2) Overarching empirical questions These are questions that you can answer through your research, which will shed light on your social theory question. You should have many of these under each social theory question. Examples: What constrains and shapes tranfer of sustainability expertise between Ghana and the United States? 3) Interview questionsThese are open-ended questions that you can ask interviewees. They should not be questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." The best interview questions help an interviewee articulate something that otherwise would be difficult for the interviewee to put into words. Example: When did you become involved in sustainable development initiatives in Ghana, and what in your background prepared you for this? What have been the most frustrating -- and most rewarding -- moments in your work?

Sketch 7: Research Design Grid
In a research design grid, you connect the (2-4) social theoretical aims of your project, to empirical research questions, possible data sources, literatures and apparent or emerging arguments (especially as evident already published literature). Here is a sample research design grid, based on Marie Rarieya's work.

Sketch 8: Three Literatures, Thirty References + Short Annotations

This sketch should identify three literatures your research will draw on and contribute to. Describe each literature in a few hundred words, list at least ten references and briefly (2-4 sentences) annotate these references -- noting the main argument and evidence of the reference, and how it could inform your research

Sketch 9: Core CategoriesThis sketch should identify at least two “core categories” that your research will flesh out, describing the material you can use to make them “dense.” The concept of a “core category” comes from the grounded theory tradition of sociology. See Strauss & Corbin (1990) Basics of Qualitative Research. Newbury Park: Sage. See Ellen Foster's core categories for a project on "hacker/maker spaces/cultures."

“Advocacy” is a core category in Advocacy After Bhopal, for example. A core category:
-accounts for a phenomena or pattern of action/language that is relevant and problematic to people in the study
-recurs frequently in the data itself -- such that the intellectual project is a matter of taking up theorizations already initiated by our informants; then we return them, a little more robust, a little more broad in their explanatory power, infused with theories we bring from different scholarly traditions
-is integrative, providing a theoretical concept densely saturated by empirical detail
- yet privileges scope -- accounting for as much variation as possible, compelling a researcher to "code" for its many dimensions, properties, conditions, consequences, and connections to other things
-can be related to many other key categories in the research
- overall: is intended to draw different things together, while privileging variation -- creating, in process, new idioms with which we can engage the world.

Sketch10: Structuring a Project
This sketch should identify the time period of your project (a decade, more or less), and chart forces that shape that period. The template for this is filled in for a dissertation project by Jason Patton focused on efforts to develop multimodal transportation in Oakland, California.

Sketch 11: Historicizing a Project
This sketch should include at least ten events that had significance in the historical build up to your project space. It should also select a nodal year – like 1984 for my Bhopal work – and list ten events in that particular year that partly defined your project space (as the preface to Advocacy After Bhopal does). Thus, there should be both a diachronic (chronologically ordered) list and a synchronic (snapshot of a historical moment) list. A “+” chart, in other words.

Sketch12: Peopling a Project
On the "peopling" sketch, "catalysts" are things (money, honorable reputation, etc) that enable that group of people to get what they want. "Corrosions" are things that undermine their ability to get what they want (lack of money or status, youth, gender, poor organizational skills. In filling it all in, you create a quick map of power dynamics.

See Pedro de la Torre's "peopling a project" sketch. Pedro is studying the massive environmental clean-up at Hanford Nuclear Reservation:

See Guy Schaeffer's "peopling a project" sketch. Guy's research focuses on Troy's composting initiative:

Sketch 16: Methodological, Empirical, Theoretical and Practical Contributions
Try to articulate these in formal, proposal-ready prose, starting with the rhetorical structures below. Following are two sections of Aalok's grant that make over use of these articulations -- his abstract, and then the "intellectual merit and broad significance" section, a required part of an NSF grant.

This study will be based on data collected through participant observation, ethnographic interviews, analysis of archival and policy documents (or whatever), demonstrating how studies of x

Focusing on x in the United States (or wherever), this study will contribute to the empirical record of ways...


This study will advance conceptualization of... The study will draw on and contribute to scholarly literatures that examine...

Results of this study can help...

Sketch23: Hegemonic Backdrops

For this sketch, you should write a few hundred words describing conventional or hegemonic ideas about your object of concern. See Bruce Pfaffenberger's description of hegemonic ideas about technology in "The Social Anthropology of Technology, "Annual Review of Anthropology. Volume 21, Page 491-516, Oct 1992 (available through Folsom Library).

Sketch25: Shifts in Sign Systems
For this sketch, write a few hundred words describing a critical discursive shift that you think is going on in or around your object of concern. A shift in sign systems is a shift in what is common sensical. Examples are in the reading section: Daniel Botkinand I. Scoones(in separate pieces) describe shifts in conceputalizations of nature; Steven Lansing's essays asks what it would look like for social scientists to shift to thinking in terms of complex adaptive systems. Gayatri Spivak's essay reads the work of the South Asian Subaltern Studies collective as charting shifts in sign systems.

See Ali Kenner's essay on a shift in sign systems around asthma care and disease/health more generally.

Sketch24: Charting Binaries
For this sketch, chart the binaries that structure talk within or about your object of concern. For an example, see the chart of binaries and third terms in chapt 9 of Mike Fortun and Herb Bernstein's Muddling Through: Pursuing Science and Truths in the 21st Century.

Sketch41: Draft Overview
See example in Aalok's proposal, and in Mike and Jeanette's proposal, remembering that this section of the proposal should articulate the entire proposal, in brief. In other words, nothing that comes after should seem surprising. The later sections just provide detail. The "Detailing a Proposal" template should help you conceive of the proposal as a whole.

Sketch43: Seed Research
This sketch should describe potential seed research that would help you prepare for the proposed research. Try to come up with a number of possibilities. You could aim to do some interviewing, on whatever topic, perhaps with a mentor (faculty or grad student), to gain a sense of the dynamics of interviewing. You could do some interviewing that tests the interview questions in your proposal. Or you could do content/discourse analysis of media coverage or policy documents related to your topic. Be creative and expansive (not worrying, for now, about time requirements) in what you come up with.

Sketch : Three Literatures, Thirty Citations
This sketch should include descriptions of three literatures your research will draw on and contribute to. Each description should be about 400 words and include 10 citations, entered through some kind of bibliographic software package. Each description should articulate the focus of the literature, relevant aspects of its genealogy, how it has evolved in recent years and key sub-themes. Quotes and concrete examples of what the literatures do will make these descriptions stronger. Each should also include an articulation of how your research will draw on and contribute to the literature described. Aalok’s NSF grant, which I circulated earlier, includes excellent examples.

Sketch : **Three Annotations**
This sketch should include annotations for three articles or books referenced in your “Three Literatures” sketch – one for each literature. There’s an “annotation” template that lists questions you should address in each annotation.

Sketch: Three Journals
This sketch should describe three journals where you would like to publish your research. Your should describe the types of articles the journal publishes, noting what counts as an argument, how arguments are supported and whether an original empirical or theoretical contribution is expected. You should also provide brief descriptions (2-3 sentences) of at least two articles form the journal, and a list of at least five articles on topics similar or related to your topic – articles that yours will be in conversation with. These lists should be of the sort published at (as thematic lists and also at the end of promotional text for a particular essay).

Sketch : Emerging Narratives
This sketch should describe what you think is going on with the phenomena you are describing. I’ll post chapter 3 from Joe Maxwell’s book, “Conceptual Context: What You Think is Going on,” which includes a number of examples in diagram form. The “background and significance” section of the Fortun-Simmonds grant is also a good example. If you create a diagram, make sure there is enough associated explanation for others to understand it.

Sketch : **Mapping Subject Positions**
See template. Catalysts are what drives subjects to say what they say. Corrosions are forces that keep statements from legitimacy and material realization.
Writing Toward Theory

Sketch : Extrapolating and Abstracting
This sketch should include three abstracts for conference length (15-20 minute) presentations with your project material. Think about how you can carve out pieces of your project that speak to particular theoretical questions, or narrow by focusing on a particular scale. Aalok’s abstract titled “Networks In/Of Mobility”, for example, narrows by focusing on the meso level, aiming to speak to questions about what enables and constrains mobility within contemporary global order. A sample sketch with two of Aalok's abstracts is on the templates page.

SKETCH27 Describing People to Make an Analytic Point
SKETCH28 Describing Places to Make an Analytic Point

SKETCH29 Describing Practice to Make an Analytic Point
SKETCH30 Describing Events to Make an Analytic Point

Sketch32: Chapter Summaries
In the reading section, I've added these two things, both of which include sample chapter summaries and "comparative positioning" of the book:

FortunMBookProposalPromisingGenomics, FortunMBookProposalMuddlingThrough

In the templates section, I've added: SketchChapterSummaries (not a template but a description of how you should think about this exercise) and

SketchDissertationEvaluation (this should help you imagine what your chapter summaries should add up to).

Sketch33: Cover Mock Up

Sketch34: Comparative Positioning (how your book will be different than others on similar topics)
Again, see the these in the reading section: FortunMBookProposalPromisingGenomics, FortunMBookProposalMuddlingThrough

Sketch35: Ethical Conundrums
This sketch should return you to reflection on the ethical issues and double-binds you may well face as your research proceeds. Try to consider the many places where "ethics" (broadly conceived) will be in play -- in the way you describe your project to potential interviewees, for example, in your choice of who to interview (and who to ignore), in the way you describe your interviewees (as in Sketch 27).

Sketch36: Letter of Introduction to Interviewees
See samples written by Mike (Fortun) on the templates page.

Sketch37: IRB Proposal, with Informed Consent Form
See sample for my research on/with the exposure science community on the templates page.

Sketch38: Circulations (amongst informants, other experts, policy makers)
This sketch should describe groups of readers your book will address, explaining what you hope will draw them in and how you hope the text will move them.

Sketch39: Political Implications
This sketch should describe the political implications (broadly conceived) of your main and sub arguments. What kinds of change is your text likely to call for and help mobilize? Consider, here the many kinds of change laid out on the "Imagining Change" sketch template (recalling that this template can also be used to orient ethnographic engagement, seeking to understand how your interlocutors imagine likely and necessary change.)

Sketch40: Abstract
See examples in Aalok's proposal, and in Mike and Jeanette's proposal. Also see SketchAbstractExampleKFortunNSF07ExposureScience, also on the templates page.

Sketch 44: Figuring Oneself
This sketch should return you to reflection on your own positioning, habits, biases, and talents. Complete a "Mapping Subject Positions" template (also used for Sketch 22) for yourself, as researcher, and ask again the questions raised in Sketch 2 (see above).

Proposal Presentation
Your full proposals should be posted by the day you present. The "Detailing a Proposal" template provides a basic list of what should be covered. Also see sample proposals. The "Proposal Evaluation" sketch lists questions that I and your other readers will ask in evaluating your proposal. Make sure to attend to this list as you move through progressive drafts of your proposal.

Your presentation should be 12-15 minutes long, and will be followed by about 15 minutes of questions and discussion. Please prepare your presentation carefully, and be ready to answer a range of questions. You should be able to demonstrate a big imagination about what you hope to do.

Everyone in the class should complete the "Proposal Presentation Review" template for each presentation. These should be shared with me and the presenter by noon, Sunday, following the presentation.

Why read Writing Culture (and Traweek’s “Bordercrossings”)?
  • They indexes a very particular scholarly community and conversation, one in which language is both a key scale or object of analysis, and one which takes its own moves of language and text seriously, understanding them to harbor meaning, argument and power in themselves. The perspectives in Writing Culture orients a community of scholars, rather like the title of “Alphabet City” oriented you to the landscapes in the photos we started with – allowing you to see particular things, shifting your attention from others. This is how “theory” works.
  • Writing Culture (and the Traweek essay very overtly) also points to discursive particularity of all scholarly conversations, and to the importance and implications of knowing how to think about rhetoric. As Traweek cautions, “Knowledge about rhetorical strategies and skill in developing them are limited; most academic have learned only one and are unconscious of the assumptions of the one they know; they assume that there is only one way to think and write carefully and precisely about social and phenomenal worlds.”
  • Third, Writing Culture indexes the way what can be called STS perspective on the ways knowledge is produced, circulated and legitimated emerged within niches of the humanities and social sciences in consideration of their own practice. Note the timing. Writing Culture was published in 1986, based on a seminar in 1984. Latour and Woolgar (Laboratory Life), who Clifford cites, was published in 1979. “Inscription” was up.
  • A fourth, critical lesson of Writing Culture is that “research” is not only about discovery or figuring things out. It’s also about getting the material you need to create an effective representation, or what Steve Tyler calls a therapeutic effect