Dr. Irene van Oorschot

Senior Lecturer

Please contact via email to schedule an appointment.


I am a senior lecturer at Erasmus University College (ESSB), Erasmus University Rotterdam.

My research concentrates on concrete practices of knowing, valuing, and decision-making. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy and material-semiotics, I am especially interested in the intimate connections between knowledge and (e)valuation, or: the ways by which implicit or explicit normativities inform our grasp on the world – and the ways knowledges in turn shape our normative commitments to our possibilities within it. Trained as an ethnographer, I see social inquiry as an art of staying with the troubleOpens external.

I defended my dissertation called Ways of Case-MakingOpens external in 2018 (cum laude) at the sociology department of the EUR. Cambridge University Press recently published my monograph The Law Multiple: Judgment and Knowledge in PracticeOpens external (see hereOpens external for more!). In this book, I seek to trace how knowledge is made in and about legal practices. Ethnographically attending to the irreducibly material and temporal character of knowing and judging work, this book takes issue with overtly abstracted understandings of both ‘the Law’ and ‘Science’ and develops a conception of knowing and judging as concrete and material practices.

Working as a postdoctoral researcher at the anthropology department of the University of Amsterdam (Program Group Health, Care, and the BodyOpens external), I have focused on forensic and genetic knowledge production in the context of Prof. Amade M’charek’s RaceFaceID projectOpens external, zooming in on the role of biological race in forensic and legal settings.

Currently, I am developing an approach to environmental management that draws on my expertise in knowing and valuing practices and finds inspiration in feminist science and technology studies.

I can be found on google scholarOpens external and on research gateOpens external, as well as in my personal homepage: www.irenevanoorschot.comOpens external.

Current Research

‘Working with Nature’ in the Anthropocene: Environmental Management beyond Man the Controller

In the context of far-reaching and unpredictable climate change, environmental management and environmental policy discourse has witnessed the emergence of a novel environmental management paradigm: that of ‘fostering resilience’. Fostering the resilience of ecosystems is positioned not only as a way to maximize ecosystem’s abilities to respond to and bounce back from environmental stressors (e.g. pollution, floods, fires), but also as way to reconcile diverse social, economic, and ecological interests.

Conceptually, the rise of resilience disrupts anthropocentric understandings of the relationships between natural environments and environmental management. ‘Working with rather than against nature’ is a recurring slogan in environmental policy discourse. Drawing on Puig de la Bellacasa’s work on human-nonhuman constellations of care, this project seeks to conceptualize what novel relationships between humans and nonhumans are crafted and negotiated as a result of this rise of resilience. Moving beyond celebratory or critical accounts, it aims in particular to tease out possibilities to dissent-within resilience, articulating a novel ethics of environmental management.

Research Articles & Publications

A selection of my most recent work:


Van Oorschot, Irene. (2020) The Law Multiple: Judgment and Knowledge in Practice. Opens externalCambridge: Cambridge University Press

Edited Volumes

M’charek, A., Irene van Oorschot, R. Benschop, J. Harambam, eds. (2014/2015) Monsters in de Sociologie.Opens external Special Issue Sociologie on Actor Network Theory 10(3/4). (In Dutch)

Peer-reviewed Articles

Wissink, Lieke and Irene van Oorschot (preprint, accepted for publication) Affective Bureaucratic Worlds: File Practices in a European deportation Unit and Criminal CourtOpens external. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.

Van Oorschot, Irene. (2020) Culture, Milieu, Phenotype: Articulating Race in Judicial Practice. Opens externalSocial & legal Studies

Van Oorschot, Irene, P. Mascini & D. Weenink (2017). Remorse in Context(s): A Qualitative Exploration of Remorse and its Consequences.Opens external Social & Legal Studies, 26 (3), 359-377.

P. Mascini, Irene. van Oorschot, D. Weenink & G. Schippers (2016). Understanding Judges’ Choice of Sentence Type as Interpretative Work: An Explorative Study in a Dutch Police Court. Opens externalRecht der Werkelijkheid – Cahiers d’Anthropologie du Droit, 37 (1), 32-49.

Van Oorschot, Irene & W. Schinkel (2015). The Legal Case File as Border Object: On Self-reference and Other-reference in Criminal Law. Opens externalJournal of Law & Society, 42 (4), 499-527.

Van Oorschot, Irene. A. M’charek, J. Harambam & R. Benschop (2014) Monsters in de Sociologie: De Wondere Wereld van ANT Opens external[Monsters in Sociology: The Wondrous World of ANT]. Sociologie, 10 (3/4), 226-241.

Van Oorschot, Irene (2014). Het Dossier-in-Actie: Vouw- en Ontvouwpraktijken in Juridische Waarheidsvinding.Opens external [Case Files in Action: Folds and Folding Practice in Judicial Truth-Telling] Sociologie, 10 (3/4), 301-318.

Van Oorschot, Irene (2014). Seeing the Case Clearly: File-Work, Material Mediation and Visualizing Practice in a Dutch Criminal Court.Opens external Symbolic Interaction, 37 (4), 439-457.

Van Oorschot, Irene (2014). Negotiating Knowledges Abroad: Non-Western Students and the Global Mobility of Knowledge. Opens externalCompare: a Journal of Comparative and International Education, 44 (6), 895-915.


Hopman, R., Irene van Oorschot, and A. M’charek. (forthcoming) From Promise to Practice: Anticipatory Work and the Adoption of Massive Parallel Sequencing in Forensics. Techno-Legal Worlds, eds. V. Toom, M. Wienroth, and A. M’charek. London: Routledge.

Van Oorschot, Irene and Amade M’charek (preprint, accepted for publication) Un/Doing Race: On Technology, Individuals, and Collectives in Forensic PracticeOpens external. Handbook for the Anthropology of Technology, eds. M H Bruun and C Hasse, Palgrave MacMillan.

Servant-Miklos, G. and Irene van Oorschot. (2020) Collaboration, Reflection, and Imagination: Rethinking Assessment in PBL Education for Sustainability. Educate for the Future: PBL, Sustainability, and Digitization. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.

M’charek, A. and Irene van Oorschot. (2019) What About Race? Opens externalANT Companion Reader, eds. A. Blok, C. Roberts, I. Farias. London: Routledge.

Van Oorschot, Irene (2018) Doing Times, Doing Truths: The Legal Case File as a Folded Object.Opens external Regulating Time, E. Grabham and S. Beynon-Jones (eds.) Social Justice Series, Routledge.

Van Oorschot, Irene, P. Mascini. (2018) Cases under Construction.Opens external Empirical Legal Research in Action: Reflections on Methods and their Applications. W. van Boom, P. Desmet, and P. Mascini. (eds). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Van Oorschot, Irene, J. Harambam, L. Buijs & M. Siebel (2014) Een Interview met Latour: Modes of Existence, Diplomatie, en de Sociologie.Opens external [An Interview with Latour: Modes of Existence, Diplomacy, and Sociology] Sociologie, 10 (3/4), 370-374.

All my publications and blogs can also be found on www.irenevanoorschot.com.

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