Skip to main content

Lindsay Poirier

Assistant Professor of Statistics & Data Sciences



McConnell 212


Lindsay Poirier is a cultural anthropologist of data advocacy, governance and infrastructure. Interlacing methods in cultural analysis and exploratory data analysis, Poirier critically examines how meaning gets made from data—by whom, for whom, under what conditions and toward what ends. Her work is informed by prior work in critical data studies, information studies, the digital humanities and data science. In her current research, she studies the provenance, form, semiotics and uptake of public interest datasets documenting social and environmental injustices in the United States. This work underscores the sociopolitical contexts shaping how knowledge claims about contemporary issues are produced from data, and informs critical approaches to data science practice, policy and pedagogy.

Poirier is the lead platform architect for the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), has represented the empirical humanities in international efforts to advance interdisciplinary data sharing, and collaborates as a hacker and data wrangler on a number of community-engaged and justice-focused data science projects. She is a co-editor of the book Anthropological Data in the Digital Age: New Possibility—New Challenges.

Poirier joined Smith College from UC Davis, where she served as an assistant professor of data studies in the Science and Technology Studies Program. Prior to this, she worked as a data ethnographer and lab manager for BetaNYC, a civic technology organization housed in the New York City Manhattan Borough President’s Office that advocates for improvements to the city’s open data program.

Selected Publications

Poirier, Lindsay. “Reading Datasets: Strategies for Interpreting the Politics of Data Signification.” Big Data & Society 8, no. 2 (2021): 1-19. 

Poirier, Lindsay. “Data(-)based ambivalence regarding NYC 311 data infrastructure.” Cultural Studies (2021): 1-28.

Poirier, Lindsay. “Ethnographies of Datasets: Teaching Critical Data Analysis through R Notebooks.The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, no. 18 (2020).

Poirier, Lindsay, and Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn. “Data Sharing at Scale: A Heuristic for Affirming Data Cultures.” Data Science Journal 18, no. 1 (2019): 48. 

Poirier, Lindsay, Kim Fortun, Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn, and Mike Fortun. “Metadata, Digital Infrastructure, and the Data Ideologies of Cultural Anthropology.” In Anthropological Data in the Digital Age: New Possibilities-New Challenges, edited by Jerome Crowder, Mike Fortun, Rachel Besara, and Lindsay Poirier. Palgrave Macillan, 2019.

Poirier, Lindsay. “Classification as Catachresis: Double Binds of Representing Difference with Semiotic Infrastructure.” Canadian Journal of Communication 44, no. 3 (2019). 

Poirier, Lindsay. “Making the Web Meaningful: A History of Web Semantics.” In The SAGE Handbook of Web History, edited by N. Brügger and I. Milligan, 256–69. SAGE Publications, 2019. 

Poirier, Lindsay. “Devious Design: Digital Infrastructure Challenges for Experimental Ethnography.” Design Issues 33, no. 2 (2017): 70–83. 

Poirier, Lindsay. “A Turn for the Scruffy: An Ethnographic Study of Semantic Web Architecture.” In Proceedings of WebSci’17. Troy, NY: ACM, 2017. 


Office Hours

Fall 2023

Tuesdays, 11 a.m.–noon
Thursdays, 8–9 a.m.
(McConnell 214)


Ph.D., M.S., B.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Personal website

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks