My main research theme right now is data centres: their local arrangement, material legacies, building procedures, and global production networks enabling its operation. The study is conducted in the collaborative research centre 1567 Virtual Life Worlds, in subproject A02 led by Estrid Sørensen.

So what’s the pitch of the project? As information infrastructures, data centres help shape scientific knowledge production. As consumers of raw materials and energy, they contribute to shaping natural processes. This ethnographic study combines research on the interdependence of socio-technical practices in a university data centre and scientific data practices with an ethnography of the value chain from extraction of raw materials and energy production to operation and use of the data centre. It thus answers both the theoretical and empirical question of the continuity of nature and knowledge.

More info can be found here. Check out the online lecture series we did: Across the Layers: Scientific Knowledge Production, Planetary Resources, and Data Centres.


In the context of the research centre, individual and collective publications are produced, and beyond that I am interested in collaborations that advance the research conceptually or empirically. Currently, I am based abroad in Vietnam and am investigating the question of what material investments are necessary for the design and construction of (sometimes extremely efficient) chips that require data centres. Southeast Asia is a good base for this work, because central nodes of value chains can be found here, and because current, including political, developments are changing the structure of value chains and revealing dependencies as well as new opportunities.


In an article for Bits & Bäume, we discuss the implications of our research for transformations towards sustainable IT.

Discussions of data centre sustainability often address technical improvements and political regulations. Innovations make data centres more energy efcient, and political guidelines help – and force – industry to prioritise environmental sustainability. Such innovations are important, but they tend to overlook implementation. N

Sørensen, Estrid, and Stefan Laser. 2023. ‘Towards Artful Sustainable Integration of IT Infrastructures: A Report from the Construction of a University Data Centre’. In Shaping Digital Transformation for a Sustainable Society: Contributions from Bits & Bäume, edited by Patricia Jankowski, Anja Höfner, Marja Lena Hoffmann, Friederike Rohde, Rainer Rehak, and Johanna Johanna, 87–90. Berlin: Technische Universität Berlin.