Anne Dippel | CERN – High-Energy Physics
Anne Dippel is a socio-cultural anthropologist and historian.
socio-cultural anthropology, media theory, fieldwork, literary ethnography, high-energy physics, CERN
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About This Project

Production of knowledge at CERN

At times CERN seems to be like a Vatican of High-Energy Physics, where thousands of physicists work together in order to understand the fundamental elements of nature through a variety of experiments. And while doing so, they not only produce mere data and new knowledge, but also formulate a certain worldview and provide the understanding of the world to a myriad of people in a globalised world. But how do the physicists work, and more importantly, what do they find out about space, time, and matter? Also, with what assumptions do we come to the world of science based on “Large Collaborative Digital Environments”? Those questions brought me to my current fieldwork, in which I have been leading participant observation since late 2013.


More details concerning specific research questions and their analysis may be found in the Publications section under Articles and Conference Talks. Early results of my ethnographic research were presented in the 2014 talk “Humans, Models, Detectors: Production of Knowledge about the Nature of Nature at CERN” as part of MECS Lecture Series.


One of my most recent themes focuses on the significance of play in the cosmology and workspace of High-Energy Physics. So far  the preliminary analysis of the playful lab was presented at the Digital Games Research Association’s conference in Lüneburg (DiGRA 2015), at Art Genève (2015), and most recently at the ethnographic symposium at Heidelberg University (2016), among others.


In 2014 as a research fellow at the MECS Institute (Media Cultures of Computer Simulation), I organised a field trip to CERN and together with the physicists prepared an interdisciplinary workshop for a scientific community.

Since 2015 I have been an associate member of CERN.


Produktion von Wissen am CERN

Das CERN erscheint zuweilen wie der Vatikan der Hochenergiephysik. Abertausende von Physikern arbeiten hier gemeinsam um in unterschiedlichsten Experimenten den fundamentalen Bestandteilen unserer Natur näher zu kommen. Dabei produzieren sie nicht bloß Daten und neues Wissen, sondern sie formen die Weltsicht und das Weltverständnis unzähliger Menschen in der globalisierten Welt. Wie die PhysikerInnen dort arbeiten und was sie über Raum, Zeit und Materie herausfinden, welche Annahmen wir über “Large Collaborative Digital Environments” treffen können steht im Zentrum dieser langjährigen qualitativen Feldforschung.

Research theme

Knowledge production about space and time in Physics


2013 - ongoing