Götz Hoeppe

Associate Professor

Anthropology | Cross-appointed with Sociology and Legal Studies Department

Contact: 519-888-4567 x42553, ghoeppe@uwaterloo.ca

PhD Sociocultural Anthropology (Freie Universität Berlin)
MSc Physics (University of New Mexico)
Vordiplom in Physics, BSc equivalent (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

Goetz Hoeppe profile picture

Research and Teaching areas

  • Science, Technology and Society
  • Social interaction, instruction and learning
  • Qualitative studies of media and document uses, diagrams, counting practices and measurement
  • Ethnography, video ethnography, ethnomethodology and conversation analysis
  • Education and instruction in Earth systems science and climate action
  • India

Current Research

I pursue ethnographic studies of instruction, learning and practical reasoning in science and technology, with a focus on research settings and citizen engagement in and with science.

Instruction and Practical Reasoning in Science Education and Scientific Research

This research focuses on documenting and analyzing the instruction, learning and practical reasoning of junior scientists using ethnography, including video recordings. This includes studying how they use media, diagrams and documents, and how counting, measuring and data analyses unfold as socio-technical practices.

Following an extended study of data-centric astronomy I have begun the project “Making sense of data re-use in environmental science.” Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this project considers how junior climate scientists are instructed to produce, use, and re-use digital data using diverse technologies and material probes, and how scientists work and communicate in multi-disciplinary contexts typical of Earth systems science. This includes how scientists working in the field and the lab communicate and collaborate with experts in computer simulation, data analysis and modelling.

Grassroots Measures

This comparative study examines how members of local communities, in Canada and elsewhere, generate and use self-made measure(ment)s to specify pollution in the environment, environmental change, poverty, and social inequities, often to contest scientific measurements and those generated by state institutions. This work builds on, and supplements, my ethnographic fieldwork with fishers and social activists in Kerala, south India.

Doing Citizen Science with Digital Media

I am interested in supervising students who want to explore citizen science and digital media (including smartphone apps), especially (but not only) in relation to the environment, and there especially to the monitoring of biodiversity and pollution (air, water, soil) in southern Ontario and elsewhere.

Opportunities for Graduate Student Projects

I welcome applications from prospective graduate students who are broadly interested in my research and teaching areas listed above.

I seek to fill two MA student fellowships as part of the SSHRC-funded research project “Making sense of data re-use in environmental science.” These students shall be guided to conduct detailed ethnographic case studies of exemplary work in a climate science laboratory, focusing on how junior climate scientists learn to produce, use, and re-use digital data. Available funding for these students includes travel and accommodation expenses for conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Germany as well as conference travel.



2007 - Conversations on the Beach: Fishermen's Knowledge, Metaphor and Environmental Change in South India.  New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books.

2007 - Why the Sky is Blue: Discovering the Color of Life. Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press.

  • Louis J. Battan Author’s Award, American Meteorological Society (2010)
  • Honorable Mention, Atmospheric Science Librarians International Choice Award (2008)
  • German edition published in 1999, Korean edition in 2009

Papers in refereed journals and book chapters

2023 – “Learning from Harold Garfinkel's Studies of Work in the Sciences.” Soziologische Revue. (in press)

2021 – “Encoding Collective Knowledge, Instructing Data Reusers: The Collaborative Fixation of a Digital Scientific Data Set.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10606-021-09407-2

2020 – “Members Doing Ethnography? On Some Uses of Irony and Failed Translation, Witnessed in an Episode of Data Sharing in Open Science.”Ethnographic Studies 17: 1 – 21. https://zenodo.org/record/4050531#.YNoQp-hKjIU

2020 – “Sharing Data, Repairing Practices: On the Reflexivity of Astronomical Data Journeys.” In: Sabina Leonelli and Niccoló Tempini (eds.) Data Journeys in the Sciences. Chur: Springer, pp. 171 – 190. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-37177-7_9

2020 – “A Sky to Work With: Astronomers, Media, Infrastructures.” Roadsides 3: 15-22 (Issue ‘Infrastructure on/off Earth’) https://roadsides.net/hoeppe-003/ 

2019 – “Medium, Calculation, Play: On Digital Images in Scientific Practice.” Social Studies of Science 49 (5): 758 - 784. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0306312719871356

2019 – “Mediating Environments and Objects as Knowledge Infrastructure.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work 28 (1-2): 25-59. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10606-018-9342-0

2018 – “Practical Cosmologies.” Ethnologies 40 (2): 75-92. https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/ethno/2018-v40-n2-ethno04329/1056384ar/

2018 – “Tensions of Accountability: Scientists, Technicians and the Ethical Life of Data Production in Astronomy.” Science as Culture 27 (4): 488-512.https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09505431.2018.1510909

2016 – “An Instructive Return to Laboratory Ethnography.” Symbolic Interaction 39 (1): 158 - 161. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/symb.199

2015 – “Representing Representation (Review Essay).” Science, Technology & Human Values 40 (6): 1077 – 1092. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0162243915594025

2014 – “Working Data Together: The Accountability and Reflexivity of Digital Astronomical Practice.” Social Studies of Science 44 (2): 243 - 270. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0306312713509705

  • 2017 Melvin Pollner Prize in Ethnomethodology, Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Section, American Sociological Association

2012 – “Astronomers at the Observatory: Place, Visual Practice, Traces.” Anthropological Quarterly 85 (4): 1141-1160. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/488895

2012 – “Geschichte der Astronomie.” In: Hans-Heinrich Voigt/Hermann-Josef Röser/Werner Tscharnuter (Eds.) Abriss der Astronomie. Weinheim: Wiley/VCH, p. 1063 – 1093.

2011 – “Extended Vision: Finding Fish Like South Indian Fishermen.” In: Marie-Claude Mahias (Ed.), Construire les savoirs dans l'action: Apprentissages et enjeux sociaux en Asie du sud, Purusharta, vol. 29, Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, p. 205 – 235. http://editions.ehess.fr/ouvrages/ouvrage/savoirs-et-savoir-faire-en-asie-du-sud/

2011 – “Atmospheric Ozone and Colors of the Antarctic Twilight Sky.” Applied Optics 50 (28): F161 – 171. (with Raymond L. Lee and Wolfgang Meyer) https://opg.optica.org/ao/fulltext.cfm?uri=ao-50-28-F162&id=222801

2009 – “Appropriating "Science" and "Relatedness": Environmental Conflict and Environmental Knowledge in the Fishery of Kerala (South India).” In: Kato, Tsuyoshi / Uyar, Aysun (Eds.), The Question of Poverty in Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Kyoto: Ryukoku University, p. 39 – 52.

2008 – “Knowing the Sea in the "Time of Progress": Environmental Change, Parallel Knowledges and the Uses of Metaphor in Kerala (South India).” In: Casimir, M. (Ed.), Culture and the Changing Environment: Uncertainty, Cognition and Risk Management in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Oxford/New York: Berghahn Books, p. 301 – 324.

2006 – "Knowledge Against the State: Local Perceptions of Government Interventions in the Fishery (Kerala, India)." In: Cederlöf, Gunnel/Sivaramakrishnan, K. (Eds.), Ecological Nationalisms: Nature, Livelihoods, and Identities in South Asia, New Delhi: Permanent Black/Seattle: University of Washington Press, p. 233 – 254.

2005 – “Sky.” In: Bron Taylor and Jeff Kaplan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, London/New York: Thoemmes Continuum Press, p. 1554 – 1556.

2004 – “What happened to the chaakara? The Formation of Coastal Mud Banks and the Reformation of Local Environmental Knowledge in Kerala (South India).” In: Dilger, Hansjörg/Volker-Saad, Kerstin/Wolf, Angelika (Eds.), Moderne und postkoloniale Transformation: Ethnologische Schrift zum 60. Geburtstag von Ute Luig, Berlin: Weißensee-Verlag, p. 242 – 257.

2004 – “Die Wanderung der Sardinen: Lokales Umweltwissen und Kolonialismus in Indien.” Historische Anthropologie, 12 (3): 397 – 414.

2003 – “The work of fishing and the moral constitution of space in Kerala (South India).” Proceedings of the conference “People and the Sea II”, publication on CD-ROM, Amsterdam.

2003 – “Blaue Luft? Die Geschichte einer „falschen“ Idee.” In: Busch, Bernd (Ed.), “Luft,” Cologne: Wienand, p. 97 – 110.

2002 – “An den Rand gedrängt? Die wechselhafte Rolle des Menschen im astronomischen Weltbild der Moderne.” In: Natur in der Moderne: Interdisziplinäre Ansichten, Eds. Ute Luig/Hans-Dietrich Schultz, Berliner Geographische Schriften, Vol. 93, Berlin: Humboldt-Universität, p. 23 – 38.

2002 – “Von den realen Problemen einer imaginären Person: Über die Beziehung zwischen Feldforschern und lokalen Mitarbeitern.” In: Dilger, Hansjörg/Guzy, Lidia/Sieveking, Nadine (Eds.), Vielstimmigkeit als Konzept: Beiträge zur Theorie und Praxis der ethnologischen Forschung, Sozialanthropologische Arbeitspapiere, Nr. 93, Berlin: Verlag Hans Schiler, p. 39 - 45.

2000 – “When the Shark bites the Stingray: The Night Sky in the Construction of the Manus World.” Anthropos, 95 (1): 23 – 36.

1994 – "Radio-Continuum and Far-Infrared Observations of Low Surface Brightness Galaxies." Astronomical Journal, 108: 446 – 455. (with E. Brinks, U. Klein, C. Giovanardi, D. Altschuler, R.M. Price, H. Deeg)

Popular writings (selection)

2007 - (editor) "Kosmische Ursprünge: Wie Astronomen die Geschichte des Universums enträtseln" ("Cosmic Origins: How Astronomers Unravel the History of the Universe"), Dossier 5/2007, Spektrum der Wissenschaft. (84 pp)

2007 - "'Die Dunkle Energie bedroht die Kultur der astronomischen Forschung': Gespräch mit dem Astrophysiker Simon White." Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 8/2007, p. 56 – 60.

2006 - (editor) "Astronomie vor Galilei" ("Astronomy Before Galilei"), Dossier 4/2006, Spektrum der Wissenschaft. (84 pp) 

2006 - "Kolams: Technologie der Verzauberung." Spezial "Ethnomathematik." Spektrum der Wissenschaft, p. 52 – 59.

2006 - “Biertischtheologie ist nicht die Lösung – Ein Dialog zwischen Hans Küng und Gerhard Börner”, Spektrum der Wissenschaft 4/2006, p. 100-104 (with Reinhard Breuer).

 (Reprinted in Spanish in Investigacion y Ciencia, 6/2006, p. 6-10)

2005 - "Hubble in der Unterwelt: Die Ausstellung „Das halbe Universum“ in München." Sterne und Weltraum, 7/2005, p. 50 – 55.

2004 - "Projekt Epica: Zeitreisen in die Tiefe des Eises." Sterne und Weltraum, 12/2004, p. 34 – 38.

2004 - “'In diesen sechs Zahlen steckt eine neue Physik': Ein Gespräch mit dem Kosmologen David Spergel." Sterne und Weltraum, 11/2004, p. 24 – 31.

2003 - "Himmelslicht: Spiegelbild des Erdklimas." In: Themenheft „Licht + Finsternis“, FUndiert - Das Wissenschaftsmagazin der Freien Universität Berlin, 1/2003, p. 52 – 61.

2001 - "Der schönste aller möglichen Himmel." Natur & Kosmos, 5/2001, p. 32 – 36.

1999 - "Leben mit den Sternen – Die Astronomie der Manus in Papua Neuguinea." Sterne und Weltraum, 12/99, p. 1046 – 1051.

Book reviews (selection)

2019 – “Sareeta Amrute: Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin,” American Ethnologist 46 (1): 124-125.

2013 – “Hélène Mialet: Hawking Incorporated – Stephen Hawking and the Anthropology of the Knowing Subject,” American Ethnologist 40 (3): 600 - 601.

2010 - “Natasha Stacey: Boats to Burn – Bajo Fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone”, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.), 16 (1): 184 – 185.

2005 - “Francesco Bertola: Via Lattea – Un Percurso Nel Cielo e Nella Storia dell’Uomo”, in: Sterne und Weltraum, 10/2005, p. 98.

2004 - “Albert Einstein: Verehrte An- und Abwesende”, Audio-CD, Sterne und Weltraum, 4/2004, p. 98.

1999 - “Bernard Juillerat: Children of the Blood – Society, Reproduction and Cosmology in New Guinea”, Sociologus, 49, p. 136 – 137.