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Queen's University

Martin French, Ph.D.

SSHRC Postdoctoral fellow,
Department of Sociology - Queen's University (2010 - 2012) 

HCTP (CIHR) Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation - University of Toronto (2009-2010)

As a sociologist whose core area of specialization is concentrated in the field of Communication & Information Technology, I use qualitative methods to help empirically specify and critically assess the information-processing practices of organizations. With particular attention to vital politics, I draw from my sub-specialties in Surveillance Studies, Sociology of Health & Illness, Social & Legal Studies, and Science & Technology Studies to examine how information is used to shape and govern individual and social bodies.

Current Research

Under the mentorship of Dr. Myra Hird, I am investigating how circuits of information traverse and connect the institutions of law and science. My empirical focus is upon public-health practice and how public-health professionals understand and navigate their sometimes incommensurate obligations to serve clients while protecting the broader population.

In addition to serving the pragmatic goal of highlighting and mobilizing innovative public-health practices, this research contributes to a broader understanding of what I have come to callviropolitics. Designating an emergent vital politics of public health, viropolitics are latent in those public-health practices and interventions beset by great uncertainty with respect to their outcome. For example, when a patient’s case-management file – filled with information ostensibly meant to guide that patient’s counseling and treatment – is subpoenaed as evidence for a criminal trial concerning HIV non-disclosure, we witness a viropolitical (re)encoding of this information, as well as the practices and relationships that produced it in the first place.

On both pragmatic and critical-theoretic fronts, my research stems from postdoctoral work conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Fiona Miller, examining innovation, technology transfer and commercialization initiatives in healthcare organizations, as well as from my doctoral workon public-health surveillance, supervised by Dr. David LyonDr. Myra HirdDr. Sergio Sismondo, and Dr. Jackie Duffin.

Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae (for full CV, please click here)


  • French, Martin (2009), “Woven of War-Time Fabrics: The Globalization of Public Health Surveillance,” Surveillance & Society 6(2): 101-115.
  • French, Martin (2009), “Review of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative by Priscilla Wald” Surveillance & Society 6(2): 178-179.
  • French, Martin (2007), “In the Shadow of Canada’s Camps,” Social & Legal Studies 16(1): 49-69.
  • French, Martin A. (2006), “Review of Cultural Sutures–Medicine and Media, Edited by Lester D. Friedman,” Canadian Journal of Communication 31(1): 273-274.
  • Bennett, Colin and Martin French (2003), “The State of Privacy in the Canadian State: Fallout from 9-11”, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 11(1): 2-11.

Recent Conference Papers (2008 - present)

  • French, Martin, “Overt-Covert Surveillance: At the Nexus of Security Studies and Surveillance Studies,” presented at the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Concordia University, Montréal, Canada, Thursday, June 3, 2010.
  • French, Martin, “The Surprise of Surveillance Medicine,” presented at the CIHR Strategic Research and Training Initiative in Health Care, Technology, and Place Annual Interdisciplinary Workshop, St. Andrew’s Club & Conference Centre, Toronto, Canada, April 30, 2010.
  • French, Martin, “The Return of Overt Surveillance,” presented at A Global Surveillance Society, City University, London, UK, April 13-15, 2010.
  • French, Martin, “Gaming the State of Exception: V2010 ISU Interprets the Fair Information Principles,” presented at the Surveillance Games Workshop, Vancouver, Canada, Saturday, November 21, 2009.
  • French, Martin and Fiona Miller, “Mining Patient Information: Making an Asset of Afflicted Populations, presented at the 2009 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA, Monday, August 10, 2009.
  • French, Martin, Fiona Miller and Carrie Sanders, “‘Sometimes You Can Win By Losing’: Social Capital and Innovation in a Health-Care Context,” presented at the 7th Triple Helix International Conference, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK, Thursday, June 18, 2009.
  • French, Martin, “The Evolution of Classifications: Health In-formation in Ontario, Canada,” presented at The 1st International Sociological Association Forum of Sociology, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, September 6, 2008.
  • French, Martin, “Public Health Surveillance in Ontario: A Case-Study of the Transparent Body (Politic),” presented at InVisibilities: The Politics, Practice and Experience of Surveillance in Everyday Life, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, Wednesday, April 2, 2008.
  • French, Martin, “Viruses: Virtual and Actual,” presented at The British Sociological Association Annual Meeting, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK, Saturday, March 29, 2008.

Recent Awards and Grants

  • Recipient of a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2012)
  • Recipient of a CIHR Strategic Research and Training Initiative Fellowship (Postdoctoral) (2010-2011 – Award Declined)
  • Recipient of a CIHR Strategic Research and Training Initiative Fellowship (Postdoctoral) (2009-2010)
  • Recipient of a Surveillance Studies Network Annual Paper Prize for Early Career Researchers (2009)
  • Recipient of a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral) (2004-2007)

Professional Memberships

  • Since 2007 – Canadian Sociological Association
  • Since 2008 – International Sociological Association
  • Since 2008 – Surveillance Studies Network
  • Since 2009 – American Sociological Association
  • Since 2010 – Canadian Political Science Association
  • Since 2010 – Society for the Social Studies of Science

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000