The Biology of History: From the Body as Machine to the Metabolic Community – Hannah Landecker (Boundaries: Public Lecture)
Sociology, University of California Los Angeles
The Biology of History: From the Body as Machine to the Metabolic Community
Since its induction into scientic terminology in the nineteenth century, metabolism has been a site of dietetic, medical, chemical, and biological investigation, and a conceptual resource for political theory, philosophy and social science. Metabolic thinking has been constitutive of cultural assumptions and practices, from ideas of interiority undergirding notions of the individual, to the interrelations between animals and plants. More than a history of biology, the story of metabolism since 1839 is a biology of history: it has also reshaped the world in the most practical of ways, from the constitution of food animals to the engineering of bacterial metabolisms. The increasing presence of metabolic disorder in the material landscape has produced an enormous growth in related sciences. This talk presents ethnographic observations from these spaces of contemporary biomedical science where the relationships among industrialization, work, energy, food, and metabolic disorder are being actively rethought and redrawn.
Landecker earned her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies at MIT, and her B.S. in Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of British Columbia. She has taught and researched in the fields of history of science, anthropology and sociology. At UCLA she is cross-appointed between the Institute for Society and Genetics and the Sociology Department. Her first book, Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies, received the Suzanne J. Levinson Book Award from the History of Science Society; she is currently working on a book called American Metabolism, which looks at transformations to the metabolic sciences wrought by the rise of epigenetics, microbiomics, cell signaling and hormone biology.