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Society for Social Studies of Science

Ludwik Fleck Prize

Fleck Prize 2015

The Fleck Prize committee is delighted to offer Løchlann Jain the 2015 Ludwik Fleck Prize for her book Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us (University of California Press, 2013)!  The Fleck Prize recognizes the “best book in the area of science and technology studies.”  

Malignant is simply stunning in its smart bridging of scholarship in STS through a range of methods, from historical to anthropological. The committee was deeply impressed by just how widely Jain cast her net in finding the resources she takes up in this fine work. Some of these include philosopher Maurice Blanchot and Nixon's ‘war on cancer,’ cancer narratives and historical films about DDT, classic feminist texts on cancer experience, and archival medical and legal sources.

The account also draws upon Jain’s considerable expertise in the interpretive analysis of injury and malpractice law. How she covers cancer science and cancer care without missing either the fine-textured detail or the big picture of policy issues is a marvel to see.

The book is a tour de force in high-level STS scholarship, while also written beautifully and in a socially-responsible manner.


S. Løchlann Jain is an Associate Professor at Stanford's Anthropology department. Jain's first book, Injury (Princeton University Press, 2006), analyzed the politics of tort law by examining how injuries and design are framed as legible legal concerns. Jain is currently researching urban planning and alternative design, and is developing methods for anthropological and STS knowledge and theory development using performance and visual arts practices.


I am deeply honored to receive the Fleck prize for scholarship in STS. In particular, I have to thank my PhD advisor Donna Haraway, who took the time and energy – sometimes forcibly but always gently – to focus my curiosity and reign in my wildly undisciplined approach to interdisciplinary scholarship. Without her mentorship; her example of courage, creativity, and intellectual generosity; and her commitment to building STS, I could never have been a scholar. Writing this book enabled me to understand, at a deep level, the contribution that STS has to make, and the solace that it has to give, through its commitment to questioning and synthesizing the complex ways that science and technology inhabits everyday lives and deaths, and its ability to accept the resulting paradoxes and contractions, rather than forcing them into a misguided resolution. Scholarship in STS has taught me that our expertise is only as good as our abilities to make it meaningful – both to ourselves, and to those who rely on us. I am so thrilled and fortunate to have so many beautiful souls in my life who have made it possible for me to write this book and live in the frightening and absurd world. I would also to thank the committee for the tremendous amount of  time they have devoted to the work of adjudication.  

Committee members: Leandro Rodriguez Medina (UDLAP, Mexico; chair), Lisa Cartwright (UC San Diego, USA), Kenji Ito (Graduate U for Advanced Studies, Sokendai, Japan), Kaushik Sunder Rajan (U Chicago, USA).

Best 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--Due March 1: Publishers, authors, and members of the Society may submit nominations (author, title, publisher) to the prize coordinator, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by 1 February. In addition, publishers are contacted in late January and invited to submit eligible books from their catalog.

Eligibility--Books Due May 1: Each year the committee will review books with publication dates from the 3 prior years. For example, during the 2015 meeting, the committee will consider books with copyright dates of 2012 - 2014. 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

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