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Patrick Carroll

Patrick Carroll

Associate Professor

2272 Social Science & Humanities
Office Phone: (916) 420-2756


  1. Ph.D Sociology & Science Studies, University of California, San Diego, 1999.
  2. MA. Sociology, University of California, San Diego, 1995.
  3. MA. Modern History - First Class Honors (US equiv. summa cum laude), National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 1991.
  4. BA. History & Sociology - Double First Class Honors (US equiv. summa cum laude), National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 1989.


Research Interests

  • Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • Historical and Cultural Sociology
  • Social Theory of Science, Technology, Governance and the State

Current Research Interests

My central research interest is the relationship between science and governance and the consequences of that relationship for the process of modern state formation and the form of the modern state. I consider this question historically, from the scientific revolution to the present, and focus on how land, the built environment, and bodies/people emerge as boundary objects around which and through which science and government interact and network. Thus I research the role of a range of sciences, from cartography and surveying, to public health and sanitary engineering.  My methods are historical and case based.  In earlier research my empirical focus was the case of colonial Ireland, from 1650 to 1900.  This research was published by the University of California Press, under the title Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation.

Currently I am researching the case of California, from 1850 to 2000.  In the California case I am focused on the intersections of science and government around land reclamation, flood control, water storage and conveyance, and environmental management.  I am particularly interested in how the state of California was built into and out of the material infrastructure of dams, flood control structures, earthworks, levees, aqueducts and so on; the role of science and engineering in these projects; and the way different levels of governance, from the federal to the district level, were expanded, articulated, and stitched together through the material culture of flood control and water conveyance.  Theoretically I engage with Foucaultian themes of governmentality, and with actor-network theory’s concerns about materiality, and the ways that humans and non-humans are assembled into durable socio-technical networks.  This research is funded by the National Science Foundation and is titled “California Delta: The Engineered Heart of a Modern State Formation.”

Select Publications

  • Patrick Carroll, "Water and Technoscientific State Formation in California,” Social Studies of Science 42:4 (2012), 489-516.
  • Patrick Carroll, Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
  • Patrick Carroll-Burke, "Material Designs: Engineering Cultures and Engineering States - Ireland, 1650-1900," Theory and Society, 31 (2002), 75-114.
  • Patrick Carroll, "Medical Police and the History of Public Health," Medical History, 46 (2002), 461-494.
  • Patrick Carroll-Burke, "Tools, Instruments, and Engines: Getting a Handle on the Specificity of Engine Science," Social Studies of Science 31:4 (2001), 593-626.
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