Jarrett Zigon is a William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. As the Founding Director of the Center for Data Ethics and Justice, Jarrett oversees the training and research program in partnership with the Data Science Institute.
"The Center for Data Ethics and Justice came about through a mutual recognition that the DSI wanted a strong effort to put ethics at the core of its educational and research agenda,” Jarrett said. “The center will take up the challenge of providing a vision for what a possible future data-driven world could be, and how that world could be better for all of us.”
Jarrett’s research interests include the intersection of anthropology and philosophy and the ethics of artificial intelligence.
"I have started to think the possibility of ethics in the advent of artificial intelligence,” Jarrett said of his work with the Center, “including how this arrival forces us to rethink the human.”
The motivation behind the Center for Data Ethics and Justice stemmed from this and his consideration of how ethics and justice play into data-driven worlds.
Jarrett previously conducted research with the globally networked anti-drug war movement, in an attempt to rethink the common ethical and political assumptions and conceptualizations associated with the war on drugs. His anthropological research career began in Russia, where he ethnographically examined Russian Orthodox Church drug rehabilitation programs as spaces for moral training, and did life-historical research on moral experience in times of post-Soviet social and political change.
He has authored several books, including Morality: An Anthropological Perspective, Making the New Post-Soviet Person: Narratives of Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow, and HIV is God’s Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia. His most recent book is A War on People: Drug User Politics and a New Ethics of Community, to be published in 2019.
Jarrett received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the City University of New York, Graduate Center (2006) and M.A. in liberal arts, with a focus on moral and political philosophy, from St. John’s College (1998). He has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.
Jarrett’s research has been funded through a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the European Research Council (ERC), among others.