Helen Verran

University of Melbourne

Helen Verran's next book "Ontological Trouble in Contemporary Environmental Governance" is nearing completion.

Helen Verran

Author Biography

Helen Verran taught History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia for nearly twenty five years, until 2012 when she took up a a position at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia. Her particular interest is in how numbers (and data) are performative; how they contribute to generating the sorts of modern day to day life that happens in various situations.


Helen spent the first years of her career as an academic in generating data in a laboratory. This took the form of numbers arrayed in tables which would later be deployed in various types of inscriptions in scientific articles. The story of data that Latour and Woolgar tell in Laboratory Life (1979), could have been produced by following her around in her modest provincial laboratory. Data sets, especially large sets, were far in the future. Later teaching teachers to teach science and mathematics in Nigerian primary schools, she noticed that when it came to numbers, things did not always go as they 'should', and often these were the most successful lessons. This led to the development of a novel account of what numbers are in Science and an African Logic (2001). Since that time she has been interested in the numbers and data sets that have life in Australian environmental governance, as environmental values and environmental services products have become commonplace. Helen's most recent academic work has involved working with a group of younger scholars generating cutting edge studies of numbers and data in STS. (See Science and Technology Studies Volume 31/2018, Issue 4).

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