gloknos Publication: Invisible Labour in Modern Science | Bangham, Chacko & Kaplan

We are delighted to announce the publication of Invisible Labour in Modern Science, co-edited by Jenny Bangham, Xan Chacko, and Judith Kaplan, in our Global Epistemics book series with Rowman & Littlefield (2022).

Publisher's Summary:

Invisible Labour in Modern Science is about the people who are concealed, eclipsed, or anonymised in accounts of scientific research. Many scientific workers—including translators, activists, archivists, technicians, curators, and ethics review boards—are absent in publications and omitted from stories of discovery. Scientific reports are often held to ideals of transparency, yet they are the result of careful judgments about what (and what not) to reveal. Professional scientists are often celebrated, yet they are expected to uphold principles of ‘objective’ self-denial. The emerging and leading scholars writing in this book negotiate such silences and omissions to reveal how invisibilitieshave shaped twentieth and twenty-first century science.

Invisibility can be unjust; it can also be powerful. What is invisible to whom, and when does this matter? How do power structures built on hierarchies of race, gender, class and nation frame what can be seen? And for those observing science: When does the recovery of the ‘invisible’ serve social justice and when does it invade privacy? Tackling head-on the silences and dilemmas that can haunt historians, this book transforms invisibility into a guide for exploring the moral sensibilities and politics of science and its history.


What do we not see? A lot! Invisible Labour in Modern Science brilliantly uncovers the layers of global infrastructures of people, power, process, and practices behind the production of science. Rich, expansive, detailed, and nuanced, this is an invaluable collection.
Banu Subramaniam, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Many sorts of people are involved in making scientific knowledge; only a few appear as its authors. Invisible Labour in Modern Science is a wide-ranging collective effort to draw attention to those many and to say why their work has attracted so little notice.
Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

The history of modernity is often told as a fable about the triumph of vision enabled by science. This collection rewrites that familiar story as a parable about invisibility. By shadowing the various forms of labor that mediate between the seen and the unseen, the authors draw out the many scales, techniques, uses, abuses, and essences of invisibility haunting both science and the history of science.
Projit Bihari Mukharji, professor of history of science, University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents:

Series Editor’s Note




Commentary: Sabine Clarke: People and the processes of erasure

1. Julia Rodriguez: Under the Mexican sun: Zelia Nuttall and eclipses in Americanist anthropology

2. Lan A. Li: Escaping immortality: science, civilization, and Lu Gwei-djen

3. María Fernanda Olarte-Sierra: Producing and delivering truth: The (in)visibility of forensic scientists in Colombia

4. Margaret Bruchac: Of animacy and afterlives: Material memories in Indigenous collections

5. Alexandra Noi: The ex-prisoners of Gulag in the Siberian Expeditions

6. Laura Stark: The bureaucratic ethic and the spirit of bio-capitalism

7. Elise Burton: ‘They Say They Are Kurds’: informants and identity work at the Iranian Pasteur Institute


Commentary: Gabriela Soto Laveaga: (Em)powering narratives of technology

8. Mihai Surdu: Categorizing Roma in censuses, surveys and expert estimates

9. Ana Carolina Vimieiro Gomes: Situated knowledge and the genetics of the Brazilian Northeastern population, 1960–1980

10. Sarah Blacker: The invisible labour of translating Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in Canada

11. Omnia El Shakry: Invisible bodies: psychoanalysis, subjugated knowledges, and intimate ethics in postwar Egypt

12. Susannah Chapman: The (in)visible labour of varietal innovation

13. Stuart McCook: Coffee breeders, farmers, and the labours of agricultural modernization


Commentary: Susan Lindee: Invisible, secret, and social,

14. Elena Aronova: Citizen seismology, Stalinist science, and Vladimir Mannar’s Cold Wars

15. Jenny Bangham: Blood, paper and invisibility in mid-century transfusion science

16. Xan Chacko: Invisible vitality: the hidden labours of seed banking

17. Judith Kaplan: Oneida inscriptions,

18. Whitney Laemmli: Making movement matter,

19. Caitlin Wylie: Invisibility as a mechanism of social ordering: How scientists and technicians divide power


Commentary: Judith Kaplan: Teaching practices with invisible labour

20. Joanna Radin: Collecting human subjects: ethics and the archive

21. Lara Keuck: Locating sources, situating psychiatry, complicating categories: a journey through three German archives

22. Boris Jardine: Turing, or: an exhibition should not mean but be

23. Alexandra Widmer: Reproductive labour and indigenous hospitalities in post/colonial fieldwork

24. Rosanna Dent: Invisible infrastructures: A’uwẽ-Xavante strategies to enrol and manage warazú researchers

25. Michaela Spencer: Cultivating a northern Australian public for Yolŋu Cosmologies: ‘Keeping visible’ Yolŋu research practices and their effects


About the Editors and Contributors