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Society for Social Studies of Science

Ludwik Fleck Prize

Now accepting nominations for 2018. See below.

Fleck Prize 2016: Banu Subramaniam

Ghost Stories for Darwin:  The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity, University of Illinois Press, 2014, by Banu Subramaniam 

Offering a narrative that winds as intricately as the morning glory flowers that she studies as an evolutionary biologist, Ghost Stories for Darwin engages feminist STS, histories of science, and the myriad efforts to include women as knowledge makers to confront the ghosts of racism and sexism that have limited how, who, and what we can know.  Subramaniam refuses the constraints of language and discipline that have contributed to these exclusions, unsettling the usual literary forms familiar in STS by using speculative fiction, autobiography, and critical analysis to show how the parallel but largely separate studies of human diversity and of plant variation have divided the living into categories of the desired and undesirable.  Forming new relations across disciplines and forms of life, across continents and across time, Subramaniam calls for all aliens—those living beings excluded by science and politics—to unite to form a new community of knowing.  Subramaniam has written a brilliant book that is optimistic and hopeful, that places imagination at the center of knowing, and brightly illuminates the spectacularly interesting and exciting relationships and knowledges that are possible if we embrace variation.


Banu Subramaniam is Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is coeditor of Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), and Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation (Routledge, 2001). Trained as a plant evolutionary biologist, Banu’s work seeks to engage the social and cultural studies of science in the practices of experimental biology. Spanning the humanities, social, and natural sciences, Banu’s current work focuses on the relationship of science and religious nationalism in India.


I am thrilled and deeply honored to receive the Fleck prize for scholarship in STS. The book, Ghost Stories for Darwin is a deeply personal and intellectual project making a case for the critical need to understand the co-constitution of gender, race, sexuality, and nation, and their co-production with and through the institutions and histories of science and feminism.  It makes a passionate case for an interdisciplinary vision of experimental biology informed by the social studies of science. I am deeply indebted to the leadership and to the members of 4S for their capacious sense of community, and welcoming those of us not formally trained in STS as valued members of the community. My thanks to the many friends and colleagues who have supported, and sustained my interdisciplinary work in an otherwise disciplined academy. My thanks to members of the Fleck Prize Committee for the enormous amount of work that prize committees take. Thanks also to the leadership of 4S for supporting and pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary work in STS.

2016 Committee Members

Kelly Moore (Chair), Vivian Anette Lagesen (NTNU, Norway), Roland Bal (Erasmus University, Netherlands), and Wen-Hua Kuo (National Yang Ming University, Taipei) 

About the Fleck Prize

Outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies

"Science and technology studies" is an interdisciplinary field, so the range of eligible books is very broad.  It includes, but is not limited to, the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, economics, education, geography, and psychology as well as works combining or outside of the traditional academic disciplines.  It includes studies of knowledge, policy, government, R&D, the uses of expertise, feminist and gender studies, technological controversies, technology transfer, rhetorical and literary analyses, and studies of specific technologies.  Further, it includes works addressing science and technology for the public and for educational audiences.  The main criterion is that the substantive content of the work be framed by a social science or humanities perspective of science and/or technology.

The Ludwik Fleck Prize is named after microbiologist Ludwik Fleck (1896-1961), author of The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Fleck's case history of the discovery of the Wassermann reaction to syphilis, was originally published in German in 1935, and republished in English in 1979 after having been cited by Thomas Kuhn as an important influence on his own conception of the history of science. Both Fleck's history of discovery, and the history of his book's re-discovery, exemplify a view of progress that continues to inform research in the science and technology studies fields.


Committee: Membership on the Fleck Prize Committee consists of selected Council members and other senior STS scholars appointed by the President.

Nominations: Publishers, authors, and members of the Society may submit nominations (author, title, publisher) to the prize coordinator, at To facilitate the process nominations are requested by 1 February. Publishers are then contacted in early February and invited to submit the books nominated by the Society.

Eligibility--Books Due May 1: Each year the committee will review books with publication dates from the 3 prior years. For example, during the 2017 meeting, the committee will consider books with copyright dates of 2014 - 2016. Books may be re-nominated until their eligibility expires. Publishers or authors are responsible for sending review copies to each member of the committee by May 1 to be considered for that year's prize. Reprints, second editions, edited volumes, reference works and similar volumes are ineligible for consideration for the Fleck Prize. Multiple-authored books are eligible where they represent original work.

Short List: Through the procedure above, committees will designate a preliminary short list and meet during the 4S annual meeting to determine the winners. Awards are to be granted solely on the basis of merit as determined by the members of the committee, without reference to book reviews or recommendations by outside members. If a consensus winner does not emerge, a secret ballot will determine the winner, with honorable mentions as appropriate.

Award: The Fleck Prize Chair will inform the winner(s) after the decision of the committee to insure that the winner will be present at the award ceremony and available to participate in an Author-Meets-Critics session at the following annual meeting. The Chair of the prize committee organizes the Author-Meets-Critics session for the winning book. The prize includes a cash award to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting to receive it.

Journal Review: In addition the prize committee is encouraged to identify book clusters (theoretical or thematic) to forward to ST&HV for the solicitation of review essay as part of their narrowing and selecting process.

Past Winners

2015. Lochlann Jain. Malignant

2014. Helen Tilley, Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950

2013. Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics

2012. Hugh Raffles, Insectopedia

2011. Marion Fourcade, Economists and Societies: Discipline and Profession in the United States, Britain and France, 1890s to 1990s. (Princeton, 2009).

2010. Warwick Anderson. The Collectors of Lost Souls

2009. Steven Epstein. Inclusion: Politics of Difference in Medical Research

2008. Michelle Murphy. Sick Building Syndrome.

2007. Geoffrey Bowker. Memory Practices in the Sciences.

2006. Philip Mirowski. The Effortless Economy of Science?

2005. Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio. Biomedical Platforms

2004. Annemarie Mol. The Body Multiple

2003. Helen Verran. Science and an African Logic

2002. Randall Collins. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change

Lily E. Kay. Who Wrote the Book of Life? A History of the Genetic Code.

2001. Karin Knorr Cetina Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge

2000. Adele E. Clarke Disciplining Reproduction: Modernity, American Life Sciences, and 'the Problems of Sex'

1999. Donna J. Haraway. 1996. Modest Witness, Second-Millennium: Femaleman Meets Oncomouse: Feminism and Technoscience

1998. Peter Dear. Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution

1997 Theodore M. Porter, Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life

1996 Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in 17th Century England

1995 Londa Schiebinger, Nature's Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science

1994 Donald Mackenzie, Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance