Mary Murrell is a cultural anthropologist whose work centers around the intersections of technology and knowledge making.
I am a Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where I sit on the University of Wisconsin Press’s Editorial Press Committee as well as the Board of Visitor of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.
I am completing a book entitled The Open Book: An Anthropologist in the Digital Library. The Open Book is based on fieldwork I did from 2008-2011 primarily at the Internet Archive in San Francisco, CA — a non-profit digital library then involved in the mass digitization of books and related advocacy. Tracing the emergence, practices, and productive effects of mass book digitization, I allow the activities and efforts of digital librarians to bring “the book” into view macroscopically–that is, as an extended social infrastructure that is in the midst of an uncertain, halting, and intermittent re-materialization from print to digital.
I am also in the preliminary research stage of a new project focused on the relationship between birds and non-scientists via digital technologies. Following citizen science projects that collect observations from individuals about bird location and breeding activity in Wisconsin, I am interested in the “citizen” participants and the roles they occupy within databases as sensors, proxies, and data.
I received my Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. My research has received support from the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew H. Mellon Foundation, and the University of California.
My teaching — at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison — has focused on the anthropology of media/new media and science and technology studies.
In 2014 I completed a two-year Andrew H. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Humanities of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Before pursuing my Ph.D., I worked for many years as an acquisitions editor, in anthropology and other fields, at Princeton University Press. I continue to be involving in scholarly publishing in a variety of capacities. In addition to serving on the University of Wisconsin Press’s Editorial Committee, I am serve on the Advisory Boards of the digital publishing platform Project Muse and the open access publishing cooperative Libraria. I also serve, upon request, as a publishing consultant to the newly open access American Anthropological Association journal Cultural Anthropology.
You can find out more about my past, present, and near future on my c.v. page.
I occasionally tweet at @M_Murrell and, even less occasionally, I blog here.
[Last updated October 2016]