CITP Luncheon Speaker Series:
David Ribes – An Ecology of AIDS Infrastructures:
A Sociotechnical History of the Present

CITP Luncheon Series

Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Location: 306 Sherrerd Hall
Streaming Live:

Food and discussion begin at 12:30 pm. Open to current Princeton faculty, staff, and students. Open to members of the public by invitation only. Please contact Laura Cummings-Abdo at if you are interested in attending a particular lunch.

This presentation will traverse the history of HIV/AIDS from the perspective of three ‘stacked’ infrastructures that have supported research of that disease. In 1983, early in the epidemic, scientists founded the MACS to study a cohort of gay and bisexual men at risk for AIDS. Continuing to the present, the MACS has sustained a stable ‘kernel’ of resources to support research, such as a vast archive of data and specimens. In 1995, responding to a multi-pronged critique by AIDS activists, feminists and scientists, a new research infrastructure was founded focusing on women with HIV, called the WIHS. The WIHS was modeled on the MACS, sharing common methods and instruments to enable collaborative investigations. Lastly, in 2006, the NA-ACCORD was founded with the goal of integrating many HIV/AIDS infrastructures, including the MACS and the WIHS — a new organizational form for biomedicine inspired by Big Data and Cyberinfrastructure movements. By traversing the history of AIDS ‘through’ its infrastructures we can better understand the limits of our knowledge, and more broadly, the social and technical legacy-challenges faced by contemporary ecologies of infrastructure.


David Ribes is assistant professor in Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) at Georgetown University, and during 2014/15 holds a faculty fellowship at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP). He is a sociologist of science and technology who focuses on the development and sustainability of research infrastructures (i.e., networked information technologies for the support of interdisciplinary science); their relation to long-term changes in the conduct of science; and, epistemic transformations in objects of research. David has a degree in Sociology, and is regular contributor to the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). His methods are ethnographic, archival-historical and comparative.