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Natasha Schüll

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

Natasha Schüll is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. Her work explores the psychic life of technology with a focus on themes of addiction, anxiety, and affect modulation. Her first book, ADDICTION BY DESIGN: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press 2012), draws on extended research among compulsive gamblers and the designers of the slot machines they play to explore the relationship between technology design and the experience of addiction. Her next book, KEEPING TRACK (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, under contract), concerns the rise of digital self-tracking technologies and the new forms of anxiety and self-governance they engender. Her documentary film, BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas, has screened multiple times on PBS and appeared in numerous film festivals.

Schüll graduated Summa Cum Laude from UC Berkeley’s Department of Anthropology in 1993 and returned to receive her PhD in 2003. She held postdoctoral positions as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy and as a fellow at NYU’s International Center for Advanced Studies. She joined MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society in 2007 and was awarded tenure in 2015, before moving to NYU.

Schüll’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among other sources. Schüll’s research has been featured in such national media venues as 60 minutes, The New York Times, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Capital Gazette, Financial Times, Forbes, Boston Globe, Salon, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily Herald, Las Vegas Sun, 99% Invisible, NPR, WGBH, and WNYC.

Selected Publications


  • Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas. Princeton: Princeton University Press (2012)
  • Italian Translation: Ingegneria della dipendenza. Bologna:Sossella Editore (2016)
  • Japanese translation: デザインされたギャンブル依存症. Trans. Higurashi Yasutomi. Aosaka (2018)
  • Keeping track (Under contract with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Refereed Articles

  • The data-based self: self-quantification & the data-driven (good) life. Social Research International Quarterly, 86.4 (2019): 909-930.
  • Digital containment and its discontents. History of Anthropology 29: 1 (2018): 42-48.
  • The datafication of health (coauthor M. Ruckenstein). Annual Rev of Anthropology 46 (2017): 261-78
  • Abiding chance: Online poker and the software of self-discipline. Public Culture 28: 3 (2016): 563-92


Media, Culture, and Communication

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