Lindsay Poirier is a cultural anthropologist of data advocacy, governance and infrastructure and an Assistant Professor of Data and Statistical Sciences at Smith College. Interlacing methods in cultural analysis and exploratory data analysis, Poirier critically examines how meaning gets made from data—by whom, for whom, under what conditions and toward what ends. Her work is informed by prior work in critical data studies, information studies, the digital humanities and data science. In her current research, she studies the provenance, form, semiotics and uptake of public interest datasets documenting social and environmental injustices in the United States. This work underscores the sociopolitical contexts shaping how knowledge claims about contemporary issues are produced from data, and informs critical approaches to data science practice, policy and pedagogy.
Poirier is the lead platform architect for the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), has represented the empirical humanities in international efforts to advance interdisciplinary data sharing, and collaborates as a hacker and data wrangler on a number of community-engaged and justice-focused data science projects. She is a co-editor of the book Anthropological Data in the Digital Age: New Possibility—New Challenges.
Poirier joined Smith College from UC Davis, where she served as an assistant professor of data studies in the Science and Technology Studies Program. Prior to this, she worked as a data ethnographer and lab manager for BetaNYC, a civic technology organization housed in the New York City Manhattan Borough President’s Office that advocates for improvements to the city’s open data program.