Raquel Velho is a sociologist of science and technology. Her research intersects the field of Science and Technology Studies (particularly Infrastructure Studies) with research in Disability Studies. She focuses on the development of large technological systems, especially transport infrastructures, and the work undertaken by marginalized communities to mold these networks.
Velho’s current book project explores the question of accessibility in public transit. She discusses the process of stabilization of large systems in ways that have become exclusionary for specific demographics that are considered “non-standard”. These barriers, she argues, have long-term consequences and often develop into a vicious cycle of social exclusion, but can be progressively overcome if marginalized communities are re-engaged in decision-making fora. Velho has also identified the active engagement of disabled people with infrastructures. She examines tactical maneuvers as ways of temporarily re-inscribing access requirements in ways that would often be considered subversive to maintainers of the network.
Velho’s research interests are varied and interdisciplinary, including (but not limited to), infrastructure studies; cyborg anthropology/sociology; inclusive design; social exclusion and inclusion processes; standards and classification in governance; Latin American science and technology studies/policy; and disability/ableism studies. She is engaged in teaching in RPI’s interdisciplinary Programs in Design and Innovation (PDI) and is the faculty advisor to the Rensselaer chapter of Design for America.
Her articles are published or forthcoming in a variety of journals and languages, including Social Inclusion, Frontiers in Public Health, Critical Reviews of Latin American Research (co-edited volume on Latin American science and technology Studies) and Liinc em Revista.