Phoebe Sengers



I am a faculty member in Science & Technology Studies and Information Science at Cornell. I integrate ethnography, history and design to analyze the social impact of technologies and imagine how technologies could have other effects. I examine how technologies are designed and created, the cultural assumptions and values that are embodied in them, and how technologies play into and shape visions of who we are and how we should live. The way they do this does not necessarily follow designers' intentions; technologies are appropriated and picked up by people in complex situations in ways that sometimes reinforce, sometimes question the agendas that drove their creation. I am interested in the visions of time, labor, and value that technologies are bound up with, who is left out of these visions and how, and methods for imagining alternatives. What worlds are we creating together and how do we inhabit them? What worlds might we wish to create instead? My current research analyzes how changing sociotechnical infrastructures are implicated in changing orientations to time, technology, and labor on the infrastructural edge, through a case study of sociotechnical change in a small settler community in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I am using lessons from this work to inform contemporary design of infrastructure for digital agriculture.


  • Vera Khovanskaya and Phoebe Sengers. “Data Rhetoric and Mutual Gains Participation: Data Advocacy in US Labor History.” In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems.

  • Sharifa Sultana, Francois Guimbretiere, Phoebe Sengers, and Nicola Dell. “Design Within a Patriarchal Society: Opportunities and Challenges in Designing for Rural Women in Bangladesh.” In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’18), Paper 536, 13 pages. DOI:

  • Vera Khovanskaya, Phoebe Sengers, Melissa Mazmanian, and Charles Darrah. “Reworking the gaps between design and ethnography.” In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17). ACM, New York, NY, pp. 5373-5385.

  • Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir, Maria Håkansson, James Pierce, Eric Baumer, Carl DiSalvo, and Phoebe Sengers. “Sustainably Unpersuaded: How Persuasion Narrows Our Vision of Sustainability.” In Proc. CHI 2012, April 2012.

  • Stephen Purpura, Victoria Schwanda, Kaiton Williams, William Stubler, and Phoebe Sengers. “Fit4Life: The Design of a Persuasive Technology Promoting Healthy Behavior and Ideal Weight.” In Proc. CHI 2011, 423-432.

  • Carl DiSalvo, Phoebe Sengers, and Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir. “Mapping the Landscape of Sustainable HCI.” In Proc. CHI 2010. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1975-1984. DOI:

  • Kirsten Boehner, Rogerio DePaula, Paul Dourish, and Phoebe Sengers. “How Emotion is Made and Measured.” International Journal of Human- Computer Studies, Special Issue on Evaluating Affective Interactions. April 2007, pp. 275-291.

  • Genevieve Bell, Mark Blythe, and Phoebe Sengers. “Making by Making Strange: Defamiliarization and the design of domestic technology.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), Special issue on Social Issues and HCI, Vol. 12, No. 2, June 2005, Pages 149-173.

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