Nov 16 | The ‘Public Good’ of Genomics

The Science and Justice Research Center will host Steve Sturdy, Professor of the Sociology of Medical Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh, in a Working Group event that explores the question of the ‘public good,’ and how it has been thought of and variously understood within the field of genomics.

Lindsey Dillon, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz and Gretchen Gano, Associate Director of Research for the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at UC Berkeley will serve as discussants.

November 16, 2016 | 4:00-6:00pm | Engineering 2 room 599

Nov 09 | Cocktail Hour: Food Security and the Data Deluge

4:00-5:30pm | SJRC Common Room (Oakes 231)

The Science and Justice Research Center will host Madeleine Fairbairn, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California – Santa Cruz, and Zenia Kish, Teaching Fellow at Stanford University in a Cocktail Hour discussion.

Madeleine and Zenia will discuss their preliminary research into how the “data revolution” is reshaping efforts to address international food security on the part of development organizations, governments, and agribusinesses. As private global actors increasingly gather environmental and farmer-produced data from mobile phones, remote sensors, satellites, and agricultural equipment, food production and markets are being transformed by data infrastructures and algorithmic logic. There is potential for these new technologies to provide low-cost assistance to small farmers and valuable information for countries where official data collection is unreliable.  However, by making farmers into data workers, these technologies also have the potential to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, further privatize responsibility for food security, and alter the way that smallholder knowledge is valued.

Madeleine Fairbairn is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2014. Zenia Kish is a postdoctoral fellow in the Thinking Matters program at Stanford University. She received her PhD in American Studies from New York University in 2015.

Nov 02 | Cocktail Hour: Making the Island Desert: Cotton Colonialism and the Long History of the Shrinking Aral Sea

4:00-5:30pm | SJRC Common Room (Oakes 231)

The Science and Justice Research Center will host Maya Peterson, Assistant Professor of History at the University of California – Santa Cruz, in a Cocktail Hour discussion.

The rapid disappearance of the Aral Sea over the years leading up to and since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been called “one of the worst environmental disasters in the world.” Yet the disappearance of the sea was no accident; indeed, Russians had predicted the shrinking – and eventual disappearance – of the sea long before the late twentieth century. The major Soviet river diversion and irrigation projects undertaken beginning in the 1960s can be seen as the culmination of decades of policies designed to transform the vast Central Asian region to the south and east of the Aral Sea into a cotton colony of the Russian and Soviet empires. These policies continue to have severe consequences for the indigenous people of the region and those who depended upon the sea for their livelihoods. Drawing on recent work in environmental history and the history of technology, as well as original research in Russian and Central Asian libraries and archives, this talk explores the history of Russian perceptions of the Aral Sea to see whether, rather than simply dismissing the Aral Sea crisis as a predictable outcome of Soviet gigantomania, considering the story of the sea’s disappearance in its longer-term historical context can help to illuminate the nature of the relationships between water management and power and to illustrate lessons about the consequences of technological optimism that human beings might do well to heed in future.

Maya Peterson is an assistant professor of history at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her research and teaching interests include Russian, Soviet, and Central Asian history, the history of the environment, technology, and engineering, as well as comparative empires. Her current book project, based on the dissertation she completed at Harvard University in 2011, is titled Pipe Dreams: Water, Technology, and the Remaking of Central Asia in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. The book examines tsarist and Bolshevik efforts to irrigate the Central Asian borderlands and how such hydraulic engineering projects reflected imperial and Soviet notions of civilization and progress, as well as Russia’s quest to be a European empire in the heart of Asia.

Oct 19 | Cocktail Hour: Affect of Water in Colombia

4:00-5:30 PM | SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231
Diana will share her work on the affects of water in Colombia in order to think about community based water management and the ways in which the water infrastructure built for the big agro-industries of banana and palm oil is constantly repurposed. She will also reflect on issues of scale in her own forms of intervention in relation to the rhythms and movements of the rivers and people with whom she works.

Diana Bocarejo is a Visiting Scholar at the Science and Justice Research Center and Professor of Anthropology at Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia.

Oct 05 | Cocktail Hour: Meet & Greet

Please join us for a beginning of quarter cocktail hour. In addition to a chance to celebrate the new academic year and enjoy each other’s company over nice food and drink, we will be welcoming new members of our community, and welcoming back others. We will also officially welcome the Center’s recently hired Assistant Director of Research and Academic Programs, Katherine (Kate) Weatherford Darling and the 2016-2017 Science and Justice Fellows!
This will be a great chance for everyone to meet the new faces in the Center and foster emerging collaborations!
Graduate students interested in the Science & Justice Training Program, please visit: Science & Justice Training Program. Faculty interested in supporting the Science & Justice Training Program or for more information on our Broader Impacts Initiative, please read: Broader Impacts.
October 5 | 4:00-5:30 PM | SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231

Sept 28 | TJ Demos on Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology

The Center for Emerging Worlds, The Center for Cultural Studies and the Institute of the Arts and Sciences present a book talk with TJ Demos.

HAVC professor and influential art and visual culture historian critic TJ Demos will present from his new book, Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology.

DEMOS poster

September 28 | 5:30 pm | Humanities 1, RM 210

Kate Weatherford Darling, joins SJRC as Assistant Director of Research and Academic Programs


Katherine (Kate) Weatherford Darling is a sociologist working across the boundaries of the sociology of health, illness and disability, and feminist science studies. Kate is currently a Doctoral Candidate at UC San Francisco. She first joined the Science and Justice Research Center as a Visiting Scholar and a Graduate Student Researcher in 2015 and worked with the SJRC team to plan the Just Data? conference held May 2016 at UCSC.

Kate cares about bringing social justice and health inequalities to the center of discussions about the ethics and politics of biomedicine. Her research examines how chronic illness and complex disease are transformed by biomedical science and health policy in the U.S. In her forthcoming dissertation (2016), she asks what it means for HIV to be defined, managed and experienced as a chronic illness in U.S. healthcare and policy. She ethnographically traces how people living with HIV and their healthcare providers are navigating biomedical bureaucracies, grappling with new insurance markets and attempting to control healthcare costs. Adele Clarke, Janet Shim, Howard Pinderhughes and Jenny Reardon serve on her dissertation committee. She will be in residence at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland in Winter 2017 to extend her research into a book project.

Kate began her training in at UC Berkeley in the College of Natural Resources, where she studied Molecular Environmental Biology and volunteered at a feminist health clinic. She studied abroad in Santiago, Chile and then investigated the health effects of air pollution in New York City at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.

While a graduate student, she collaborated on research projects at UCSF and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. Through these collaborations, she has examined concepts of race/ethnicity in gene-environment interaction research, the history of race in genetics after World War II, and new frameworks for examining implicated values in biomedical research. Information on her current papers and upcoming presentations are available on and Twitter @kwdetal.

Kate grew up in Santa Cruz County and lives in San Francisco with her family. She enjoys swimming, hiking, camping, gardening and making beer. Her parents are very proud UCSC alumni.

Oct 22 | Superfest | International Film Festival

Oct 22 – 23 | Multiple times and locations

superfest2016 marks 30 years of disability and cinema. Superfest, the world’s longest running disability film festival, celebrates disability as a creative force in cinema and culture. It features films with fresh ideas and images that inspire thought and meaningful conversation.  Times and locations for the 2016 film selections can be found here.


Sept 13 | Blum Center | SEEDS, SOILS and POLITICS: An Anthropology Roundtable

Blum Seeds and Soils

Twenty anthropologists and ethnographers from across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America will discuss new forms of public and private governance over seeds and soils, how these influence farmers engagement, and how do citizens mobilize to regain control over the seeds and soils on which their daily sustenance, their health and well-being depend.

By considering the relationship of farmers with the living things of soil and seeds together with their relationship to different forms of national and international policy-making, anthropologists engage this comprehensive approach to examine how environmental change is co-created through policies and practices. They will share the outcome of their recent discussions in this roundtable.

Contemporary ways of cultivating and agricultural development strategies are framed by the marketplace: typically today such measures are privatized, corporate, and profit driven, and thus they frequently neglect or even devalue local survival strategies among the world’s poorest. Please join in this public panel that will address the ways in which states and corporations govern living objects that shape peoples’ sustenance, determine the survival of mankind, and the quality of life which have fueled the mobilization of citizens worldwide. Anthropologists have started to analyze the discourses and strategies of farmers, foodies and environmentalists who try to shed the status of consumer, stakeholder or expert and reclaim the status of citizens and of food sovereignty instead of food security. How is the issue of citizenship, the right to food, the claim to be protected from fake food and seeds reformulated? How do these notions impact on decision-making, and the notion/perception of economic democracy?


Co-sponsored by the Wenner Gren Foundation, National Science Foundation, UCSC Blum Center, Science and Justice Research Center, and UCSC Dept. of Anthropology.


September 13 | 2:00-4:30pm | Louden Nelson Community Center, room 1