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Hallam Stevens
Associate Professor
School of Humanities
College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

I am an Associate Professor in the History Programme and in the School of Biological Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. I am also the Associate Director (Academic) of the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity. I write about genomics, the life sciences, big data, and the history of computers. At NTU I teach classes on these topics as well as on food history and history of science and technology more generally. You can find links to some of my publications as well as syllabuses for my classes on this page.

Research One-liner

Exploring the relationships between science, technology, and society.

  • 2019) “Digital infrastructure in the Chinese register” Made in China 4, no. 2: 84-89.
  • (2019) “The quotidian labour of high tech: innovation and ordinary work in Shenzhen” Science, Technology & Society, 19, no. 2.
  • (2019) [with Payal Arora] “Data-driven models of governance across borders: datafication from the local to the global” First Monday 24, no. 4.
  • (2019) “Open data, closed government: unpacking” First Monday 24, no. 4.
  • (2018) “Evidence based medicine from a social science perspective” Australian Journal of General Practice 47, no. 12.
  • (2018) “Starting up biology in China: Performances of Life at BGI” Osiris 33, no. 1: 85-101.
  • (2017) “A Feeling for the Algorithm: Working Knowledge and Big Data in Biology” Osiris 32, no. 1: 151-174.
  • (2017) “Globalizing Genomics: The Origins of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration” Journal of the History of Biology.
  • (2016) “Hadooping the Genome: The Impact of Big Data Tools on Biology” Biosocieties 11, no. 3 [Journal version (full text)].
  • (2016) [with Jenny Reardon, Rachel A. Ankeny, Jenny Bangham, Katherine W. Darling, Stephen Hilgartner, Kathryn Maxson Jones, Beth Shapiro, and The Genomic Open Workshop Group] “Bermuda 2.0: Reflections from Santa Cruz” Gigascience 5(1): 1-4. [Open access version].
  • (2016) “From the medical gaze to the statistical person: some historical reflections on evidence-based and ‘personalized’ medicine” Australian Family Physician 45, no. 9: 632-635.
  • (2015) [with Lijing Jiang] “Chinese biotech versus international ethics? Accounting for the China-America ethical divide” Biosocieties 10, no. 4: 483-488. [Journal version]
  • (2015) “The Politics of Sequence: The Bermuda Principles and Open Source Biology” Information & Culture: A Journal of History 50, no. 4: 465-503. [Journal version]
  • (2015) “Networking Biology: the Origins of Online Data Sharing in Genomics” Technology and Culture 56, no. 4: 839-867. [Journal version]
  • (2015) “Genetimes and Lifetimes: DNA, New Media, and History” Memory Studies 8, no. 4: 390-406 [Journal version] [Archived version]
  • (2012) “Dr. Sanger, Meet Mr. Moore: Next generation sequencing is driving new questions and modes of research” Bioessays 34, no. 2: 103-105.
  • (2011) “Coding Sequences: A History of Sequence Comparison Algorithms as a Scientific Instrument” Perspectives on Science 19.3: 263-299. [Journal version] [Post-print archived version]
  • (2011) “On the Means of Bio-production: Bioinformatics and How to Make Knowledge in a High-throughput Genomics Laboratory” Biosocieties 6: 217-242 [Journal version] [Post-print archived version]
  • (2003) “Fundamental Physics and its Justifications, 1945-1992” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 34(1), 151-197. [Journal version] [Archived version]
Latest Projects
  1. Transclusions: Alternative visions of living digitally
    This project examines different possibilities for understanding what our online-digital world might have become. We too often, implicitly or explicitly, accept the idea that our online worlds, tools, and platforms (such as the World Wide Web) are the best, most natural, or inevitable forms of these technologies. But exploring the histories of other platforms that “might have been,” I hope to open up thinking about alternative possibilities for doing and living digitally.In practice, the project has two parts. One is an examination of the work of Ted Nelson, the inventor of hypertext and one of the most imaginative critics of the World Wide Web and other digital technologies.

The second part is more local. It aims to examine the history of networking in Southeast Asia, attempting to understand what alternatives and possibilities existed in this region before the dominance of the global Internet.

This project is sponsored by a Tier 1 grant from the Ministry of Education, Singapore.

2. BGI
This is the book project that emerged from the “Space of Biomedicine in East Asia” project listed below. The project aims to track the history and development of the genomics lab BGI, based in Shenzhen. It is partly a history of the lab through the history of the city. It aims to track what new institutional forms biomedicine is taking on in China and hence to contribute to our understanding of what “forms of life” are emerging in the “Chinese century.”

Other affiliation(s)

Associate Chair (Research), School of Humanities, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Head of History, School of Humanities, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Associate Director (Academic), NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH)

Expert Areas
history of science, history of technology, science and technology studies

Research Interests
critical algorithm studies, critical data studies, data justice, fairness-accountability-transparency, science and justice, software studies

Research Category
Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences
Research Sub-category
History, Internet & Communications, Philosophy, Sociology
NISTH Assigned Topic Groupings
Responsible AI/Tech, Smart cities, smart nation & future living
Affiliated Sustainable Development Goals
GOAL 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION, AND INFRASTRUCTURE – Investments in infrastructure are crucial to achieving sustainable development.
GOAL 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES – To reduce inequalities, policies should be universal in principle, paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
GOAL 16: PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS – Access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Last Updated
08 Apr 2020
Last Updated
13 Sep 2020