FASS Staff Profile

DR CANAY OZDEN-SCHILLING
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY

Appointment:
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Office:
AS1/04-17
Email:
socco@nus.edu.sg
Tel:
Fax:
Homepage:
http://ap5.fas.nus.edu.sg/fass/socco/
Tabs

Brief Introduction

I am an anthropologist of capitalism, technology, and infrastructure, with past and ongoing research projects on markets of electricity and global port logistics. Broadly, I’m interested in the scientific and technological work cultures that create and disseminate the economic formations with which we live. My first book, The Current Economy: Electricity Markets and Techno-Economics (Stanford University Press, 2021), is an ethnography of the electric grid in the United States in the age of competitive markets and smart grids. Based on fieldwork amongst market data analysts, electric grid engineers, and citizen activists, The Current Economy shows the heterogenous and technologically-inflected nature of economic expertise today. My second book-length project explores global supply chain logistics, as seen from the port cities of Mersin (Turkey) and Singapore.

I obtained my Ph.D. degree in 2016 from the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I also hold a M.A. degree in Near Eastern Studies from New York University. Prior to joining NUS, I was a Mellon-Sawyer postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.

Listen to an interview about my book on New Books Network.

 


Teaching Areas

SC3211 Science, Technology, and Society
SC3226 Markets and Society
SC3202 From Modernization to Globalization
SC2209 Money, Business, and Social Networks
 


Current Research

My first book, The Current Economy: Electricity Markets and Techno-Economics (Stanford University Press, 2021), is an ethnography of electricity markets in the United States. Electricity is a quirky commodity; more often than not, it cannot be stored, transported except through dedicated routes, or imported from overseas. In a growing number of regions across the globe, it changes hands through specialized electricity markets that rely on engineering expertise, so it can be traded competitively while respecting the physical requirements of the electric grid. Based on fieldwork amongst market data analysts, electric grid engineers, and citizen activists, The Current Economy shows the heterogenous and technologically-inflected nature of economic expertise today. I argue that many of the economic formations in everyday life come from work cultures rarely suspected of doing economic work: cultures of science, technology, and engineering that often do not have a claim to economic theory or practice, yet nonetheless dictate forms of economic activity.

My second research project develops my interest in the scientific and technological infrastructures of contemporary markets and capitalism—this time with a focus on the global supply chain logistics, as seen from a port city on the Eastern Mediterranean. I have anchored this project in Mersin, Turkey, which hosts an international container port that was privatized in 2007 and has since been managed by a Singaporean port operation firm. In this project, I ask: How are supposedly global logistical ideals, like just-in-time delivery, translated into port operations in local contexts where economic and political pressures are more convoluted than the simple demand of efficiency? How do ports negotiate the Janus-faced expectations from them as facilitators of global trade and the host nation’s economic growth? What new meanings do the “public” and the “private” acquire in the daily operation of privatized public infrastructures?


Research Interests

Markets and capitalism, electricity and energy, science and technology studies, infrastructures of modernity, North America, the Middle East


Publications

BOOKS/MONOGRAPHS AUTHORED

  • The Current Economy: Electricity Markets and Techno-Economics. 2021. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

ARTICLES IN JOURNAL

  • "Real Time in Rear View: Techno-Economic Acts in Markets of Electricity." Forthcoming. Current Anthropology.
  • “Grid Country,” 2019. Journal of North American Anthropology, special issue on Rural North America, 22(2): 118-120.
  • "The Infrastructure of Markets: From Electric Power to Electronic Data.” 2016. Economic Anthropology, special issue on Energy and Economy 3(1): 68-80.
  • "Economy Electric.” 2015. Cultural Anthropology 30(4): 578-588.
  • The Pontifex Minimus: William Willcocks and Engineering British Colonialism.” 2014. Annals of Science 71(2): 183-205.

CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

  • "Big Grid: The Computing Beast That Preceded Big Data.” 2019. Electrifying Anthropology: Exploring Electrical Practices and Infrastructures. Simone Abram, Brit Ross Winthereik, Thomas Yarrow, eds. New York: Bloomsbury Press, 161-180.

BOOK REVIEWS

  • Review of Supermarket USA: Food and Power in the Cold War Farms Race by Shane Hamilton (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). 2020. Journal of Cultural Economy 13(1): 135-138.
  • Review of A Moral Technology: Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi by Leo Coleman (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017). 2020. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute 26(1): 207-208.

OTHERS

  • “Public Electricity: A Digital Roundtable.” 2020. Power: Infrastructure in America, by Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University, with Conor Harrison, John Harwood, Hilda Lloréns, Agustín Irizarry Rivera, and Abby Spinak. https://power.buellcenter.columbia.edu/essays/public-electricity-digital-roundtable
  • "Why the Lights Went Out in Puerto Rico.” 2018. Public Books, 20 September. http://www.publicbooks.org/why-the-lights-went-out-in-puerto-rico/
  • "Expertise in the Grid: Electricity and Its Publics.” 2016. Limn 7, special issue on Public Infrastructures/Infrastructural Publics.
  • "Hardwired Hayek: Lessons for Economic Anthropology From Electricity Markets.” 2015. Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing (CASTAC) Blog, 28 July. http://blog.castac.org/2015/07/hardwired-hayek/
  • “Economic Anthropology, Technologically Speaking.” 2013. Anthropology News 54(11-12): 9.
  • “The Wardrobe Republic.” 2009. Anthropology News 50(7): 55.


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