Hello! My name is Lindsay Poirier, and I’m a cultural anthropologist of data advocacy, governance, and infrastructure. I’m also an Assistant Professor of Statistical and Data Sciences at Smith College. My research critically examines the social contexts underpinning how public interest datasets (such as datasets documenting social and environmental injustices in the U.S.) take on their form and meaning. I engage both cultural analysis and exploratory data analysis in my work and draw from scholarship in critical data studies, information studies, the digital humanities and data science.
To help advance this research, I direct a Data Ethnography and Advocacy Lab (DEAL) at Smith College. We are currently investigating the socio-cultural provenance and reliability of a number of disclosure datasets in the U.S. - or, in other words, datasets produced by the same institutions those datasets are meant to hold accountable. In addition to helping contextualize these public interest resources, our work is innovating methodologies for studying the social conditions that enable, foster, or incentivize deceptive or distortive data practices.
I teach courses at Smith College that investigate data injustices and the social contexts of data production, along with courses that introduce data science concepts and methods.