School of Social and Political Science

Benedetta Catanzariti

Job Title

PhD Candidate

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I am a PhD candidate in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. I am interested in the social and political dimensions shaping the design and development of AI systems, as well as the data practices that underlie machine learning models. My research sits at the intersection of STS and feminist studies and explores the material practices, histories, and epistemologies of computer vision technology.

Together with friends and colleagues SJ Bennett (ECA), Vassilis Galanos (STIS), Yazmin Morlet Corti (PIR), and Auste Simkute (ECA) I am a core member of the Edinburgh Futures Institute-supported AI Ethics & Society network, and I am involved in the organization of the biannual conference Critical Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence Ethics (CPAIE) and the AIES Doctoral Colloquium.


  • PhD in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, the University of Edinburgh, 2019 - onwards.
  • MSc by Research in Science and Technology Studies, the University of Edinburgh, 2019.
  • MSc in Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Torino, 2016.
  • BA in Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Torino, 2013.

Awards and funding

  • Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) Student Research Projects Award 2021
  • Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) Student Research Projects Award 2020
  • CAHSS Scholarship College Research Awards, 2019-2022.
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Award, 2019-2022 (offered).
  • Highly Skilled Workforce Scholarship, 2018.

Teaching experience

2021/2022, Semester 1, Teaching Assistant (Course Design) for Professional Issues (INFR10022), School of Informatics.

2020/2021, Semester 2, Tutor for History of Science 1 (STIS08005), School of Social and Political Science.

2020/2021, Semester 2, Tutor for System Design Project (INFR09032), School of Informatics.

2019/2020, Semester 1, Marker for History of Western Medicine (STIS08009), School of Social and Political Science.

PhD supervisors

Dr Morgan Currie

Dr Ewa Luger

Prof Robin Williams

PhD overview

Title: Coding the Face: Design Process and Social Dynamics of Emotion AI (working title)

My PhD project explores the classification techniques underpinning the design of affective technologies, through a combination of qualitative interviews, participatory workshops, ethnographic observations, and document analysis. I am especially interested in technologies that analyze and categorize facial features with the aim of producing somehow meaningful knowledge about individuals. By adopting an ethnographic approach, I investigate practitioners’ sense-making of affective information, and how this information is produced in day to day design practices, negotiated across different field of expertise, and distributed along the the machine learning pipeline. My research seeks to understand how practitioners anticipate both the societal gains of this technology as well as its potential limitations and biases, in order that they be developed to avoid social harms.


Refereed journal articles (Italian)

Catanzariti, B., "Angelologia e burocrazia: tecnologie del potere amministrativo" in «Filosofia», Quarta Serie, Anno LXII, Mimesis, 2017, pp. 41-57.

Book chapters

Catanzariti, B., “Fighting Facial Recognition: Infrastructural Challenges in Anti-Surveillance Resistance", in Currie, M., J. Knox & C. McGregor (eds.). (forthcoming 2021). Data Justice & the Right to the City. University of Edinburgh Press.

Catanzariti, B., “Feeling Machines: Emotion Recognition in Personal Assistants”, in Goldschmidt, P., Haddow, G., and Mazanderani, F., ed. (2020) Uncanny Bodies. Edinburgh: Luna Press.


Catanzariti, B., Chandhiramowuli, S., Mohamed, S., Natarajan, S., Prabhat, S., Raval, N., Taylor, A., S., Wang, D. (2022). The Global Labours of AI and Data Intensive Systems. In CSCW ’21: ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Collaborative Work and Social Computing, October 23–27, virtual. ACM, New York, NY, USA. 


Currie, M, & Catanzariti, B. (2020). Data Politics: Drag, Deepfakes and the Taming of TechnologyThe New Real Magazine. 14 October.

Research interests

Research interests

Research activities

Alongside my doctoral project, I have taken part in several research activities, including:

  • May 2021 - present, Research Assistant, "It’s all about the Feelings… a Pilot Performance Project using Artificial Intelligence Sentiment Recognition", University of Edinburgh (PI: Dr Beverley Hood).
  • Jun - Oct 2020, Research Assistant, "Edinburgh’s New Gold: Critical Takes on the Data Driven Innovation Program", Data Justice, University of Edinburgh (Co-Is: Dr Morgan Currie, Dr Jeremy Knox, and Dr Callum McGregor).
  • Jan-Aug 2019 Research Assistant, IoT Governance and Ethics Action Group, University of Edinburgh, (PI Dr James Stewart, Prof Charles Raab).

Together with SJ Bennett (ECA), I am working on a project called "Hidden Humans in the Loop: Unpacking Societal Challenges in Data Work", with funding from the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI Student Research Projects Award). The project investigates the structures and workflows characterising data practices (such as data-sourcing, cleaning, and labelling), particularly focusing on the points at which AI/ML practitioners interface with other workers in the course of data-work. Read more.