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Life (Un)Ltd

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Life, (Un)Ltd: A CSW Research Colloquium 2011-13

Principal Investigator: 
Rachel Lee, Associate Director, CSW, and Associate Professor, Department of English and Gender Studies

The broad aim of the Life (Un)Ltd project is to bring together three groups of stakeholders, those interested in postcolonial and race studies, those doing feminist and queer theory, and those working in science and technology studies and medical humanities to develop a broad-based inquiry into the following questions:

How do biotechnologies both ameliorate and produce new health disparities and augment the production of “expendable populations”? What effects have blood transfusion, tissue engineering, transplantation, IVF/gestational surrogacy, ES cell therapy, population genotyping, and experiments in nutritive milieu—to name just a few developments--had on feminist studies, especially those theorizing the circulation of biomaterials in relation to race and (neo)colonialism? How have non-normatively gendered bodies, poor women’s bodies, as well as gestational body parts served as opportune sites and sources for medical experimentation and the speculative contouring of life unlimited? What methods (historical materialist, psychoanalytic, ethnographically realist, deconstructive, cybernetic/systems theory) lend themselves to this feminist bioscientific critique? To what extent have feminist approaches to reproductive labor and childrearing (the emotional labor of cultivating human life) made connections with bioscientific research, practicalities, and ethics? Finally, how have literature and the arts shaped and reflected upon the biomedical imagination?

Working Group

To explore these questions, CSW Associate Director Rachel Lee initiated a working group in Fall of 2011, bringing together twenty-five faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from public health, humanities, and social sciences at UCLA to develop an interdisciplinary, feminist approach to developments in the biosciences that have effects on clinical practice, human rights, as well as philosophical and artistic practices.



Events in 2014-15


November 5, 4 to 6 pm, Royce 314

Deboleena Roy: Germline Ruptures: Methyl Isocyanate Gas and the Transpositions of Life, Death, and Matter in Bhopal

Banu Subramaniam: Surrogating the Cradle of the World: On the Onto-Espistemological Illusions of Matter

Events in 2013-14

October 14th, 3-6pm 
Life (Un)Ltd Roundtable and Launch Party

Round table featuring Michelle Murphy, Hannah Landecker, Renee Tajima-Peña, Lisa Onaga, Rachel Lee, Diane Nelson, Lindsay Smith and reception to celebrate the debut of a special issue of The Scholar and Feminist, entitled "Life (Un)Ltd: Feminism, Bioscience, Race." 
WATCH VIDEO of roundtable commentary by Laura Briggs, Deboleena Roy, and Jackie Orr.
November 5th, 4-6pm 
Life (Un)Ltd Lecture Series:  Beyond Life/Not Life: A Feminist-Indigenous Reading of Cryopreservation Practices and Ethics
Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin
March 5, 2014, 4-6pm

Life (Un)Ltd Lecture: The Gender of the Number, the Gender of the Card: On the (Im)materiality of Governance and Biometric Identity in India.

Lawrence Cohen, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Events in 2012-13

Oct 24, 2012

Life (Un) Ltd / Estrin Family Speaker Series on Women and Science:  Three Times a Woman: A Gendered Economy of Stem Cell Innovation

Charis Thompson, Department of Gender and Women's Studies, UC Berkeley 

Read blog posting

Read newsletter article

Watch video: Part I  Part II

Feb 8, 2012

Genomic Testing Across the Lifespan, Institute for Society and Genetics workshop featuring Hannah Landecker, Stefan Timmerman, and others more info

May 7, 2013

Life (Un) Ltd / Estrin Family Speaker Series on Women and Science: Bitter Melancholy: Feminism, Depression, and Aggression

Elizabeth Wilson, Professor, Women and Gender Studies, Emory University

May 17, 2013: Cultural Politics of Seeds, a one-day symposium organized by Allison Carruth and Rachel Lee 

more info

Events in 2011-2012

May 11, 2012: Symposium on Feminism, Race, and Biopolitics

With the aim of widening the Life (Un)Ltd network of interdisciplinary scholars to include regional, national, and international researchers in the areas of feminist STS, Life (Un)Ltd organized a public symposium on May 11, 2012. 

The symposium featured both international and nationally renowned speakers organized into two panels: Assisted, Distributed, Outsourced, Foreclosed: Pregnancy and Reproductive Science in Biotechnical Times and Metabolism, Medical Labor, and Toxic Milieux: Cross-Border Intimacies of Bioscience, Biopolitics, and Care. 

The event was supported in part by 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.

View program (pdf)

View bios of speakers

View videos of presentations (YouTube)



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