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Life (Un)Ltd Symposium

— filed under:

  • Conference
When May 11, 2012
from 08:30 AM to 06:00 PM
Where Charles E Young Research Library Conference Room
Contact Name
Contact Phone 310 825 0590
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Life, (Un)Ltd: A Symposium on Feminism, Race, and Biopolitics

May 11, 2012

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How have biosciences and biotechnology changed the very idea of life? How has the experience of those changes differed among various populations and demographics?  What new global markers of difference do bioscience and biotechnology introduce? "Life (Un)Ltd: A Symposium on Feminism, Race, and Biopolitics" will address these and other related questions.  This interdisciplinary project, initiated by CSW Associate Director Rachel Lee, engages recent developments in biosciences and biotechnology, foregrounding critical, aesthetic, and ethics based approaches to what have become global research and marketing industries. These industries experiment on and trade in body parts, tissues, reproductive cells and technologies.The quest of these bioscience industries--to improve health and optimize life—rests on a tacit division of labor and reward. The speakers at Life (Un)Ltd  will explore how non-normatively gendered bodies, poor women’s bodies, colored and colonized bodies serve as opportune sites and sources for medical and other types of research and experimentation, the benefits of which are generally marketed to and realized by white affluent bodies. The conference speakers and the participants in the ongoing LU working group hail from Anthropology, Asian American Studies, English, Ethnic Studies, Film, Gender Studies, History, Law, Public Health, Sociology and Women’s Studies. Speakers include Khiara Bridges, Melinda Cooper, Hannah Landecker, Michelle Murphy, Diane Nelson, Susan M. Squier, Renee Tajima-Peña, and Mei Zhan. 

DATE: May 11

TIME: 8:30 am to 5:45 pm

PLACE: Charles E Young Research Library Conference Room, UCLA


Click here to access papers for the symposium (username/password required)

COSPONSORS: UCLA Library, UCLA Office of Faculty Diversity and Development; Deans of the Humanities, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences at UCLA; the Partner University Fund project on 21st Century Cuisine, Nutrition and Genetics in France and the United States; the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics; and the UCLA Department of English.

Parking: 35 parking spaces have been reserved in UCLA Parking Lot 5 for those attending the Life (Un)LTD Symposium. Parking is $11 and can be purchased at the Parking/Information Kiosk on Westwood Blvd. near Charles Young Dr. Please give the parking attendant confirmation number 376987 or mention the Life (Un)LTD Symposium when purchasing parking since Lot 5 is a restricted parking lot.

Please refer to the link below for additional information regarding directions to campus:

 Program Overview:

8:30 am: Registration/Light breakfast 

9 am – 12 noon: Panel 1 

12:15 am – 1:30 pm: Lunch

2 – 5 pm: Panel 2

5:30 – 5:45 pm: Reception

Panel I: Assisted, Distributed, Outsourced, Foreclosed: Pregnancy and Reproductive Science in Biotechnical Times


Susan M. Squier, Unsettling, even perhaps a bit sinister: The implications of Waddington's "World Egg" for Humans, Animals, and Others

Julia Gregg Brill Professor of Women's Studies and English, Pennsylvania State University

Susan Squier 2Susan Merrill Squier is the author or editor of eight books, includingBabies in Bottles: Twentieth Century Visions of Reproductive Technology (1994), Playing Dolly: Technocultural Formations, Fantasies, and Fictions of Assisted Reproduction (1999), and Liminal Lives: Imagining the Human at the Frontiers of Biomedicine (2004).  Her most recent book, Poultry Science, Chicken Culture: A Partial Alphabet (2011) was recipient of the Michelle Kendrick Prize of the SLSA. She served as scholar in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study and Conference Center (2001), as Visiting Distinguished Fellow, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia (1992), and as Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, Melbourne, Australia (1990-91).  A member of the Editorial Boards of the Penn State Press and the Journal of Medical Humanities, she is Executive Board Member and Past President of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts and Member of the Advisory Board of SymbioticA.  In 2002, she co-directed (with Anne Hunsaker Hawkins) a National Endowment for the Humanities Sumner Institute on "Medicine, Literature and Culture" at the Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey Medical Center.  A member of the advisory board (2010-2011) and member of the jury (2011-2012) of the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, she is part of the Graphic Medicine Collective which has organized two international conferences on Comics and Medicine, “Graphic Medicine” (London June 2010), and “Comics and Medicine: Sequential Art and Illness” (Chicago June 2011), with the third conference to follow in Toronto, Canada, in July 2012.

Khiara Bridges, Writing an Ethnography of "Life"

Associate Professor, Anthropology, and Associate Professor, Law, Boston University

Khiara BridgesBridges has written many articles concerning, race, class, reproductive rights, and the intersection of the three. Her scholarship has appeared in the Columbia Law Review, California Law Review, Washington & Lee Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and Texas Journal of Women and Law, among others. She is also the author of Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization (UC Press, 2011).


Michelle Murphy, Infrastructure, Reproduction, Sediment, Latency

Associate Professor, History, University of Toronto

Michelle MurphyMurphy is a feminist science studies scholar and historian of the recent past. Her work focuses on environmental politics, reproduction, biopolitics, and economic rationalities through transnational and postcolonial lenses. She is the author of Sick Building Syndrome and the Politics of Uncertainty (Duke University Press, 2006) and Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Health, Feminism, and Technoscience (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2012).  She is also co-organizer of the Technoscience Salon.

Renee Tajima-Peña, "Mas Bebes?”: An investigation of the coercive sterilization of Mexican American women at Los Angeles County–USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s 

Professor, Social Documentation, Fim and Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz


Tajima-Peña is an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on Asian American and immigrant communities. Her film credits include Who Killed Vincent Chin?, My America…or Honk if You Love BuddhaLabor Women, Skate Manzanar, The New Americans, and Calavera Highway. She recently launched two web interactive projects, “Heart Mountain 3.0” and “Mas Bebes? Interactive.” Her films have been screened at the Cannes, London, Sundance, South by Southwest, and Toronto film festivals and broadcasted around the world. Her previous honors include the Broad Fellowship from United States Artists, the Alpert Award in the Arts, a Peabody Award, a Dupont–Columbia Award, the International Documentary Association Achievement Award, and fellowships in media arts from the Rockefeller Foundation. She was a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. At UC Santa Cruz, she is also cograduate director of Social Documentation, a program that she helped launch in 2005.



Associate Professor, English and Women's Studies, UCLA, and Associate Director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women

Rachel Lee Profile PictureLee specializes in Asian American literature and performance culture. She is the author of The Americas of Asian American Literature: Gendered Fictions of Nation and Transnation (Princeton University Press, 1999), which addresses current debates on the relationship among Asian American ethnic identity, national belonging, globalization, and gender. Her essays on location, territory, and critical regionalism in the context of Asian American cultural criticism have appeared in The Women's Review of Books, Cultural Critique, boundary 2, and various anthologies. Her more recent work includes an essay on women of color in relation to the institution of women's studies (Meridians, Fall 2000; reprinted in Women's Studies on Its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change, Duke University Press), and a collection of edited essays on Asian Americans and cyberspace, titled Asian America.Net (Routledge University Press, 2003).

Panel II: Metabolism, Medical Labor, and Toxic Milieux: 
Cross-Border Intimacies of Bioscience, Biopolitics, and Care

Melinda Cooper,
The Work of Experiment: Clinical Trials and the Production of Risk

ARC Future Fellow, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, The University of Sydney

Cooper is an ARC Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research is focused on the expansion of multinational clinical trials in China and India, with a special focus on Beijing/Shanghai and Ahmedabad. She is the author of Life as Surplus (Washington University Press, 2008) and coauthor, with Catherine Waldby, of Clinical Labor: Human Research Subjects and Tissue Donors in the Global Bioeconomy (Duke University Press, 2013). She is also coeditor of The Journal of Cultural Economy.

Mei Zhan, Undivided: Reimagining the Human and the World through Transdisciplinary Engagements with an Experiential Medicine

Associate Professor, Anthropology, UC Irvine

ZhanZhan conducts research in the areas of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, globalization and transnationalism, and China studies. Professor Zhan conducted field research on the "worlding" of traditional Chinese medicine in Shanghai and the San Francisco Bay Area over a ten-year period (1995–2005). This multi-sited research focuses on the processes of interaction, rupture, and displacement in the translocal formation of knowledges, identities, and communities. Professor Zhan's research and writing highlight that what we have come to call "traditional Chinese medicine" is made through—rather than prior to—various translocal encounters and from discrepant locations. Her work shows that dynamic forms of traditional Chinese medicine emerge through specific kinds of encounters, as these encounters also produce uneven and shifting visions, understandings, and practices of what makes up the world and our place in it.

Professor Zhan is working on two new ethnographic projects. The first one is centered on the explosion of "scandals" as a window onto complex transformations in China today. These scandals range from international food safety issues to marriage problems among ordinary people. Professor Zhan examines how the exposure, discussion, and dramatization of these scandals in mass media, online communities, and everyday discourse are indicative of changing socialities and new modes of governmentality and subject formation. The second project investigates alternative ways of thinking, doing, and being human. It begins with an exploration of how Daoism and especially its insistence on "oneness" not only provide the conceptual underpinning for traditional Chinese medicine but can also serve as an immanent, sideways analytic that suspends practices of bifurcation in modern knowledge production.

Hannah Landecker, Post Industrial Metabolism: From Food as Fuel to Nutrition as Regulation


Hanna LandeckerLandecker is the author of Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies (Harvard University Press, 2007) and numerous other engagements with cell biology, biotechnology, and the role of the moving image in life science. More recently, her research interests have centered on the historical and social study of metabolism. Her current study, American Metabolism, looks at what metabolism was and is becoming in science, philosophy, political theory, and culture.

Diane Nelson, “Yes to Life = No to Mining”: Technologies of Death and Liveliness in Post-genocide Guatemala

Associate Professor, Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

Diane NelsonNelson is a cultural anthropologist and has worked in Guatemala since 1985. Her research addresses war and genocide, indigenous identity (including Maya hackers, Omnilife saleswomen, Ponzi-scheme victims and anti-mining activists), and political movements, and her theoretical interests lie in subject formation, political economy, gender and sexuality, popular culture, and science and technology studies. Her means and ends are to somehow look this crazy, mixed-up world in the eye without falling victim to shock and awe. Her books include Aftermath: War by Other Means in Post-genocide Guatemala (coedited with Carlota McAllister), Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala, and A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala. She also writes for Science Fiction Studies. She is thankful to the students at Duke University for paying her salary. 




RESPONDENT: Allison Carruth

Assistant Professor of English and affiliated faculty member in Environmental Studies, International Studies, and the Center for the Study of Women & Society, University of Oregon

CarruthCarruth's areas of interest are twentieth-century American literature, contemporary fiction, science and technology studies, food studies, and environmental criticism. In her scholarship, she focuses on two developments that have shaped American literature and visual culture in the period since the Second World War: the industrialization of food systems and the commercialization of biotechnologies. Her first book is Global Appetites, American Power and the Literature of Food (Cambridge University Press, 2013). She has started a second project, entitled “The Transgenic Age,” which compares forms of contemporary fiction, poetry, and bioart that explore the consequences and horizons of life science research (particularly in the area of genetic engineering). Carruth argues that this emergent cultural field questions the historical investments of U.S. environmentalism in conservation and remediation while positing alternative principles of generation, re-creation, and repurposing. She is also the coorganizer of the Food Justice Conference and the Book Review Editor for Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. Recent publications include essays in Modern Drama, Modern Fiction Studies, Modernism/Modernity, and Postmodern Culture and in book collections from Oxford University Press and Routledge. A forthcoming article will be published in Parallax.

More Information on the CSW Research Colloquium