My first major research project involved a study in the anthropology of science and medicine in Brazil. For more on that research, see Science and Medicine in Religious Movements.
My second major fieldwork-based project, beginning in the early 1990s and continuing through 2006, involved the study of science and politics in alternative health movements. In the mid 1990s, with support from the Ethics and Values program of the National Science Foundation, I interviewed clinicians, researchers, and advocacy leaders on the public understanding of science and the politics of complementary and alternative cancer therapies in the U.S. (Evaluating Alternative Cancer Therapies, Rutgers U. Press). Also with support from the same grant, Margaret Wooddell, a doctoral student in Rensselaer's program, and I interviewed a group of women who have demonstrated leadership in the movement for greater choice and complementary/alternative therapies for cancer (Women Confront Cancer, NYU Press). Somewhat earlier I wrote a historical analysis of the lost research tradition on bacterial vaccines and cancer (Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?), as well as several essays in various publications. This body of work combines long-term ethnographic and archival research on complementary and alternative cancer therapies with policy analysis. It formed the basis for my subsequent work on mobilized publics, policy, and expertise. The 2012 Augsburg paper (below) updates some of my previous work on CAM and connects it with the study of mobilized counterpublics.
Most of my current research is on environmental issues, but some of it includes health and environmental work. For example, I have studied health dimensions of the politics and policies of smart meters, nanotechnology, and the greening of bus fleets. These papers are listed on the environment page. At Vanderbilt, I now teach a course on the "sociology of health and environmental science," which applies basic concepts in the sociology of science to a range of environmental health and biomedical controversies.
2013 "Beyond Scientific Consensus: Scientific Counterpublics, Countervailing Industries, and Competing Research Agendas." Paper here. Forthcoming in Wilhelm Viehover and Peter Wehling, eds. The Public Shaping of Medical Research: Patient Associations, Health Movements, and Biomedicine. Routledge. The paper reviews some of the more recent developments in the CAM cancer therapy field and applies the conceptual framework that I have been developing involving counterpublics and undone science.
2012 "Notes on the Relations between CAM and the Social Sciences." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 26(2): 283-286. Final draft of the paper here.This is an invited commentary on a paper in the same issue by Hans Baer.
2006 "Angiogenesis Research and the Dynamics of Research Fields: Historical and Institutional Perspectives in the Sociology of Science." In Scott Frickel and Kelly Moore, The New Political Sociology of Science. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. Article here.
2005 "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." In Sal Restivo, ed.,
2005 "Cancer." In Carl Mitcham, ed., Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. D
2004 "Medical Modernization, Scientific Research Fields, and the Epistemic Politics of Health Social Movements." Sociology of Health and Illness 26(6): 695-709. .Article here.
2003 "CAM Cancer Therapies in Twentieth-Century North America: Examining Continuities and Change." In Robert Johnston (ed.), The Politics of Healing. Routledge. Article here.
2003 "Technology, Medicine, and Modernity." In Arie Rip, Philip Brey, and Tom Misa, Technology and Modernity. Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press.
2002 "Complementary or Alternative? Strong versus Weak Integration Policies." American Journal of Public Health 92(10): 1579-1581.Article here.
2002 "The Raw and the Organic: Politics of Therapeutic Cancer Diets in the U.S." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Special issue edited by Helen Sheehan and Barrett Brenton on "Global Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Medicine." Vol. 582 (Sept.): 76-97. PDF file of the article here; link to American Academy of Political and Social Science here.
2000 "Patients, Science, and Alternative Cancer Therapies." In Preventing Cancer in North America, edited by Diane Wiener. Greenwood Press. Paper here.
1999 Evaluating Alternative Cancer Therapies: A Guide to the Science and Politics of an Emerging Medical Field. Edited collection of interviews. Rutgers University Press.
1999 "Suppression, Bias, and Selection in Science: The Case of Cancer Research." Accountability in Research 6: 245-257. Article here.
1998 Women Confront Cancer: Making Medical History by Choosing Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Collection of interviews, coedited with Margaret Wooddell. New York University Press.
1997 Can Bacteria Cause Cancer? New York University Press.
1996 "Technology and Alternative Cancer Therapies." Medical Anthropology Quarterly 10(4): 657-74. Paper here.