Sharon Traweek

Associate Professor, Gender Studies and History


Contact Information

Email    traweek@history.ucla.edu
Office  2214 Rolfe Hall

I am an associate professor in the Department of Gender Studies and History at UCLA; I have also been on the faculty of the Anthropology Department at Rice University and the Program in Anthropology & Archeology and to the Program in Science, Technology, & Society at MIT.  I have held visiting faculty positions at the Mt Holyoke Five College Women's Studies Research Center, the Anthropology Department at the University of California at San Diego, the Program in Values, Technology, Science, and Society at Stanford University, and Sokendai, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, in Japan.  I received my Ph.D. from the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  My first book is Beamtimes and Lifetimes:  The World of High Energy Physicists (Harvard University Press, 1988, paperback 1992); it remains in print and has been translated into Chinese (2003). My next book, which is on Japanese big science, and a third on crafting cultural studies of science, technology, and medicine will be submitted to publishers this year; I have also published 25 articles in books and journals of anthropology, Asian studies, communications, cultural studies, history, and women's studies. I have four new articles in draft.


I conduct multi-sited historical ethnographic research on knowledge making practices and the infrastructures in which they are embedded. My primary field sites are in Japan, Switzerland, and the US among anthropologists, historians, and physicists as we teach, conduct research, and collect the resources for teaching and research.   I study discursive formations [including narrative strategies], their transnational circulations, and variations in the meanings knowledge makers attribute to artifacts, bodies, cultures, and natures.   I do that by studying everyday knowledge making practices in specific political economies and sites by specific people drawing upon embodied aesthetic, moral and intellectual discourses, especially when things are falling apart. I address these issues in public cultures, laboratories, professional networks, academic arenas, and in public policy making, attending to how knowledge is produced and reproduced in these multiple sites, interactions, machines, discourses, and texts, 
locally and globally.

For the last several years I have chosen to work with international, interdisciplinary collaborations.  I have been engaged in developing digital archives and collecting oral histories among Japanese national laboratories; my focus has been on foreign and women scientists.  I am now engaged in linking researchers engaged in such studies in Denmark, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, and the US.   We have presented papers together at international conferences.  Our next steps are to teach digitally linked courses, hold symposia, and convene a summer school on collecting, interpreting, and archiving oral histories.  During the past six years the Japanese government has funded my interdisciplinary collaborative research with some additional support from NSF and UCLA.  These grants have provided support for three UCLA graduate students and a postdoctoral student [with a PhD from UCLA].  I have written several progress reports on the collaboration’s research activities, and organized the biannual workshops held by the collaboration during the last five years.

Recently I joined a collaboration that includes 32 people from 13 organizations, including 5 universities and 3 research institutes.  Our UCLA subgroup will be studying how large scale, transnational scientific databases are designed, funded, collected, analyzed, managed, discarded, repaired, accessed, ignored, and/or archived over the long term by astronomers. My focus is archival, ethnographic, and oral history studies of the embodied, gendered transmission of working knowledge/aesthetics/ ethics/tacit practices about such databases across generations of researchers trans-nationally

My work is fundamentally interdisciplinary.  I have active affiliations with the UCLA Anthropology Department, the Center for Ethnography at the University of California at Irvine, the UCLA Center for Information as Evidence, the UCLA Department of Information Studies, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, the UCLA Global South Initiative, the Sokendai Graduate University for Advanced Study in Japan, the UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, and the UCLA Center for Embedded Network Sensing.  Since receiving my Ph.D. I have given about 220 talks in 14 countries for researchers in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, history, information studies, international relations, Japan studies, science and technology studies, science education, and women's studies.  My work has been supported by, among others, the Danforth Foundation, the Fulbright Association, the Luce Foundation, the National Science Foundation, MIT, Rice University, UCLA, the University of California, and the Japanese government.

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