April 19 | Food For Thought’s Unequal Healthscapes in California’s “Biohub”

Wednesday, April 19th
5:30-7:30 pm
Namaste Lounge

Hosted by the College Nine and Ten CoCurricular Programs Office, SJRC Assistant Director, Kate Weatherford Darling will present her research centering social justice and health inequalities in the discussion of biomedicine and US healthcare and policy. Asking the question: What would it take to build new California “healthscapes” (Clarke 2010) with visions of disability justice and health equity?

Unequal Healthscapes in California’s “Biohub”

California’s recent Tech Boom buoyed the Bay Area economy and transformed the political geography of the state and a global center of wealth. Venture capital / philanthropic investment along with public policies to promote “entrepreneurism” are rapidly changing the spaces, places of biomedical science and healthcare practice. In this talk, Kate offers an incomplete map of our unequal “healthscapes” (Clarke 2010), the cultural, economic and political terrains of health. Drawing on findings from her current and forthcoming research, she asks: What would it take to build new California healthscapes with visions of disability justice and health equity?

Katherine Weatherford Darling is Assistant Director at the Science and Justice Research Center and faculty in UCSC Sociology Department. Her research and teaching bridges Sociology of Health, Illness and Disability and Feminist Science Studies. Her current projects span diverse topics including: Post-Genomic epidemiology and HIV/AIDS science and health policy in the U.S. With UCSC and Bay Area collaborators, her new projects examine how the social and built environments of Bay Area’s tech and biotech economies are impacting the health of low-income Californians.

Flyer for Food for Thought

Flyer for Food for Thought

April 12 | Book Discussion with Victoria Pitts-Taylor

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
12:00-1:00 PM
SJRC Common Room Oakes 231

Join SJRC fellows and affiliates for lunch and a discussion with Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Professor of Sociology and Science in Society, and Chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexualities Program at Wesleyan University. Professor Pitts-Taylor will be discussing Chapter One of her most recent book The Brain’s Body: Neuroscience and Corporeal Politics. Lunch will be provided to those who RSVP to Kate Weatherford Darling (kdarling@ucsc.edu) by Wednesday, April 5th with any diet restrictions. Seating is limited to 20.

On April 13th at 3:30pm, Victoria will visit UCSF for a seminar and reception hosted by the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and sponsored by the School of Nursing Dean’s Office.

Details for the UCSF Talk:
Thursday, April 13th from 3:30pm-5pm
UCSF Laurel Heights Campus, Gay Becker Conference Room (inside IHA, 3rd Floor)
3333 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94118

Jan 25 | Against Purity

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
4:00-6:00 PM
Engineering 2, Room 599

Science and Justice Visiting Scholar and UCSC alum Alexis Shotwell, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, will be in conversation with Jess Neasbitt (History of Consciousness, UCSC) about politics, movements and ethics in her new book Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised TimesAgainst Purity proposes a powerful new conception of social movements as custodians for the past and incubators for liberated futures. Against Purity undertakes an analysis that draws on theories of race, disability, gender, and animal ethics as a foundation for an innovative approach to the politics and ethics of responding to systemic problems.

Apr 20 | Digital Dreams and Their Discontents: Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30PM | SJRC Common Room (Oakes 231)

A conversation with Erin McElroy (PhD Candidate, Feminist Studies, UCSC) and Sara Tocchetti (SJRC Visiting Scholar, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris, France).

Erin McElroy on the Digital Nomad

With the emergence of Silicon Valley’s “Tech Boom 2.0,” so too has emerged the figure of the “digital nomad”—a type of transient technologic worker tethered to Silicon Valley corporations yet able to embody new mobilities vis-à-vis the globalization of high-speed fiber-optics and sharing economy infrastructure. From San Francisco to new global outposts such as Romania, which boasts the world’s fifth fastest internet speed due to postsocialist technologic economization, the arrival of the digital nomad often incites contexts of gentrification, manifesting as increased rental prices, eviction rates, and forced homelessness/nomadism. Critical of this correlation as well as formative histories of nomadic racial fantasy, I also question what other uses of digital technology, such as that of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, emerge not just to critique technologies of displacement, but also to fight for other futures of the digital?

Erin McElroy is a Doctoral Student in Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz and cofounder/director of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a digital cartography and oral history collective documenting the ecology of “Tech Boom” induced gentrification. McElroy brings a spatial analysis and collective ethos to their research, which studies materializations and histories of dispossessive technologies in Romania, employing ethnography, literary/cultural analysis, and archival work, and utilizing postsocialist analytics and feminist science and technology studies. McElroy holds a MA in Cultural Anthropology from CIIS and a BA in Cultural Studies from Hampshire College, and is an active anti-eviction organizer with Eviction Free San Francisco.

Sara Tocchetti on DIYbio and the Possibility of Critical Life Sciences

Drawing from the analogy with the personal computer and other personalized technologies, DIYbio members envision biology and biotechnology as a creative and personal technology to be made available to everyone. Such ideology of a ‘personal biology’ can be understood as a variation of ‘digital utopianism’ and seems especially attractive for young and/or disenfranchised students and researchers. Working through several case studies of DIYbio initiatives and engaging with a general sense of enthusiasm for such practices expressed in the STS literature, this presentation questions what type of critical space does digital utopianism occupies in the life sciences and STS and what forms of alternative practices we might need to recollect and/or imagine.

Sara Tocchetti recently received her PhD from the London School of Economics working on the DIYbio network, socio-technical utopias, theories of technology driven social change, and her own professional identity. Feeling stuck as an ex-biologist-not-yet turned into a science and technology studies scholar, she has moved on to study the history and present of radical science movements and is currently based at the Centre Alexandre Koyré in Paris on an Early Post-doc Scholarship from the Swiss National Fund. Her recent publications includes Is an FBI Agent a DIY Biologist Like Any Other? A Cultural Analysis of a Biosecurity Risk (Tocchetti and Aguiton, 2015) and Quelles tactiques critiques sur le terrain des promesses scientifiques [Which critical tactics in the field of scientific promises] (Aguiton, Bovet and Tocchetti, 2015).

Apr 01 | Working Against Female Genital Mutilation in Khartoum, Sudan

Female Genital Mutilation is prevalent across many parts of Africa, with a wide variety of approaches advocated to help prevent this practice.  Dr. Atif Fazari, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Medical Sciences & Technology, Khartoum- Sudan, will discuss his work as a reconstructive surgeon and opponent of FGM.  He will talk about various strategies for reducing this practice, and discuss these with Dr. Carolyn Martin-Shaw, emerita Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, who has published and taught about African women, social theory, and sexuality.

 

Hosted by Professor of Anthropology, Nancy Chen.

Organized by Associate Professor of Anthropology: Andrew Mathews

Respondent: Anthropology Professor Emeritus Carolyn Martin Shaw

Coordinated by: Dr. Jordann Loehr, MD, MPH

Engineering 2, 399 | 4:00-6:00pm | April 1, 2015

Bike-Body-Trail Assemblages

 

The Science & Justice Working Group presented "Bike-Body-Trail Assemblages," exploring a comparative approach to mountain biking in California and Austria.  This panel explored how riders’ subjectivities are attached to and enacted by (changing) technologies of leisure, in context of local discursive and bodily practices.

In today’s late modern society the increasing importance of leisure activities, of having fun, of getting or staying fit and healthy is suggested by the media and a plethora of artifacts as found in sporting goods. When viewing leisure practices as mutual co-formation of making one-self available to what happens in contact with things, investigations can be anchored at debates on (new) technological objects. However, not only the talk surrounding technological objects is of interest here but how incremental changes of them can have effects on the activity, hence on us. Therefore the incremental change of wheel standards in mountain biking is chosen to finely investigate how classifying products, positioning and evaluating them leads to the formation and classification of subjects attached to those goods.

What makes this case particularly interesting is how this incremental innovation seems to provoke or allow questioning and (re-)negotiating affiliated subjectivities, pointing to the entanglement of capabilities of the subject and the object. As debates on the matter of bigger mountain bike wheels often suggest, all discourse is arbitrary if not also experiencing the ride, trail, and artifact with the body. To account for bodily and discursive practices in the field and the cultural embeddedness of this bike-body-trail assemblage, a multi-sited comparative approach between California and Austria is chosen to see one site through the lens of the other. Methods contain the observation of online forum discussions, sales situations in shops, participant observation of test rides, and interviews with riders and sales persons. The research addresses a shortage of international comparative small- to medium-scale leisure studies, extends existing studies on media and mountain biking into the practices themselves, and aims to offer insights on how subjects and objects are (re-)configured in leisure and sporting practices.

Robin Rae: Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna, SJRC Visiting Scholar

Wade Hall: Owner and Fitter, Spokesman Bicycles

Emilie Dionne: Postdoctoral Researcher, Feminist Studies, UCSC

Engineering 2, room 506 | October 8, 2014

"Bike-Body-Trail Assemblages"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
8 October 2014
Rapporteur Report by Robin Rae, Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna, SJRC Visiting Scholar
Mountain Biking: a comparative approach in California and Austria on how riders’ experiences
of body and landscape are attached to and enacted by (changing) leisure technologies.
This event followed the experimental character of the Science & Justice Working Group, as
introduced by SJRC’s Co-Director Andrew Mathews, which emphasizes interdisciplinarity,
discussion and questioning at any times. The panel reflected great diversity by including Wade
Hall (shop owner and certified bike fitter at Spokesman Bicycles, Santa Cruz), Emilie Dionne
(Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSC politics/feminist studies), and Robin Rae (PhD candidate Science
& Technology Studies Univ. of Vienna, Scholar IHS Vienna). Participation of UCSC cycling
team’s president Mark Tingwald added further valuable insights by bringing in a rider’s
perspective. The material attendance of a special fitting bike from Wade, and Mark’s mountain
bike and body helped to exemplify issues brought up in the event. With it being open to the
public, attendants’ disciplinary backgrounds ranged from Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics
to Sociology.

First, Robin offered a frame for the event by elaborating on the assemblage of bike, body, and
trail. Highlighting the material heterogeneity in each of its components inevitably lead to
outlining how entangled these are at the same time, affecting and enacting each other in specific
ways. Presenting pictures of mountain bikes and local (unauthorized) trails in particular sparked
up an early discussion on how political issues are involved in this assemblage and (local) riding
practices.

Wade’s presentation was a captivating experience as it involved everyone and every body in the
room to stand up and feel how different muscle groups are activated in varying postures. Making
adjustments on the fit bike demonstrated how slight changes in the bike’s setup could affect the
riding experience. Wade however also underlined how the fit needs to take into account how
flexible and structurally strong the body is, for the bike to act as an extension of the body.
The far-reaching thinking of Emilie offered facets from material-political participation of the
body entangled with objects, to personhood, and matter having agential capacities. Introducing
her concept of the prosthesis, drawing on feminist theory of the dis-/abled body, opened up
minds and eyes of many by referring to how mundane artifacts like chairs or steps affect material
reality. With including the past in the body and regarding its materiality as plastic-like she
further brought the dimension of time into the ongoing discussion.

The final open discussion was then extending the prior exchange of thoughts, experiences, and
ideas, which took a dynamic of its own, not needing any initial questions. The mix of
perspectives from different academic and non-academic fields contributed to an experience of
mutual learning, leaving attendants with many things to think more about at meeting points of
humans, non-humans, and landscapes.

Film Screening “FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement”

A community-wide screening event featuring two refreshing new films which challenge old perspectives on disability, work, technology, the body and the future of humanity.  Post-screening discussion with Foster Andersen (Founder and President of local non-profit Shared Adventures) , Nancy Chen (UCSC, Prof of Anthropology), and Regan Brashear (LGBT Youth organizer).

The Interviewer, (12 mins)
A funny and poignant narrative film from Australia which looks at stigma and challenges to employment for people with intellectual disabilities. Watch trailer, here.

FIXED_postcardFIXED: The Science/ Fiction of Human Enhancement, (60 mins.)

From bionic limbs and neural implants to prenatal screening, researchers around the world are hard at work developing a myriad of technologies to fix or enhance the human body. Award-winning documentary, FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement takes a close look at the drive to be “better than human” and the radical technological innovations that may take us there.

What does “disabled” mean when a man with no legs can run faster than most people in the world? What does “normal” mean when cosmetic surgery procedures have risen over 450% percent in the last fifteen years and increasing numbers of people turn to “smart drugs” every day to get ahead at school or work? With prenatal screening able to predict hundreds of probable conditions, who should determine what kind of people get to be born? If you could augment your body’s abilities in any way imaginable, would you? Watch trailer, here.

*In honor of National Dance Week, Fixed also celebrates the rich world of disability culture by featuring excerpts of 12 of the world’s leading integrated dance companies with disabled and non-disabled dancers and other artists.

Co-sponsored by the Science and Justice Research Center and the Santa Cruz County Commission on Disabilities.

This event is part of the Reel Work Labor Film Festival. See the full schedule at www.reelwork.org.

7:00PM | Del Mar Theatre (1124 Pacific Ave., Downtown Santa Cruz)

Post-film discussion with:

Foster Andersen is the Founder and President of Shared Adventures, a non-profit organization in Santa Cruz established in 1994 dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with disabilities. He is co-author of Living in a State of Stuck: How Assistive Technology Impacts the Lives of People with Disabilities. Andersen has degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Computer Graphics Drafting and is the inventor of Quad-bee, a patented Frisbee you can throw with your thumb that has sold over 500 worldwide. Andersen currently serves on the In-home Support Service Public Authority Advisory Commission.

Regan Brashear has been working on labor, race, youth, LGBTQ, and disability issues for over twenty years through documentary film, union organizing, community forums, and grassroots activism. Brashear has a BA in American Studies (Highest Honors, Phi Beta Kappa) and a MA in Social Documentation (Documentary Film) from UC Santa Cruz. Her interest in disability studies, which eventually led to the making of Fixed, started in 1997, after a car accident which began an ongoing journey with fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

Nancy Chen is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. Her work examines the shifting boundaries between food, medicine, and bodies. She is the co-editor of Bodies in the Making:  Transgression & Transformation (2005) and has taught a graduate seminar on Bodies, Knowledge, Practice which explores many of the issues addressed in tonight’s film.

Eric Zigman has 25 years of experience in service to individuals with disabilities. He has worked with service providers and regional centers in senior management roles as well as innovative demonstrations projects involving the residential, vocational and other services. In addition, Eric has worked on several projects to support individuals transitioning from institutional care to lives in community settings. His BA is in Literature and Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and a Masters in Rehabilitation Administration from the University of San Francisco. Currently, he is the CEO of the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco.

Moderated by Lizzy Hare, Graduate Student Researcher and Fellow with UCSC Science and Justice Research Center

When Does Personhood Begin? The Science and the Rhetoric

Renowned developmental biologist Scott Gilbert (Swarthmore) joins us to discuss the science and rhetoric of personhood from a cross-disciplinary perspective. The argument that a potential human adult should be given the status of "person" from the moment of conception is being frequently made by people who wish to make abortion and human stem cell research illegal. While "personhood" is a cultural and not a scientific category, biology is often being used to justify such claims. Biologists, however, have not reached consensus on this issue, and this talk will discuss some of the places where different groups of biologists have claimed "personhood" begins. These include fertilization, individuation/gastrulation (when the embryo can no longer form twins), the acquisition of the human-specific EEG pattern, and birth. The rhetoric surrounding the fertilization issue concerns the photographs of prenatal life and the cultural representation of DNA as our soul or essence.

Cosponsored by the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Department

November 13, 2012 | 4:00-6:00 PM |Engineering 2, Room 599

Scott Gilbert, "When Does Personhood Begin?: The Science and the Rhetoric"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
13 November 2012
Rapporteur: Martha Kenney, History of Consciousness
Scott Gilbert (Swarthmore) spoke to us about public misconceptions about the science of when
life begins. He adapted this talk from an invited presentation he gave at The Vatican in 2007. He
raised a number of erroneous “facts” that give people the impression that scientists support the
idea that life and therefore personhood begins at fertilization. For example, many people believe
that all the instructions for development and heredity are already present in a fertilized egg.
More broadly DNA is often presented as tantamount to a “soul” or “essence.” To illustrate this
point Gilbert showed us car ads that were predicated on a deterministic concept of DNA. A
Toyota, for example, was advertised as having “a great set of genes.” In order to counter this
myth, Gilbert described new research from epigenetics and microbiome biology that shows many
of our fundamental bodily and behavioral characterizes are determined by the environment, not
just by genes.

He also discussed the misconception that an embryo is an autonomous entity and fully protected
inside the womb, explaining that for every 20 eggs fertilized only 6.2 become a fetus (at 8
weeks). Furthermore teratogenic compounds threaten fetal development and viability (Gilbert
argued that reducing teratogenic compounds in the environment might be a common project for
people on both sides of the abortion debate). The popularity of Lennart Nilsson’s photographs of
fetuses (actually abortuses) contributes to the misconception that fetuses are autonomous entities
by showing them floating outside of a woman’s body. The final myth that Gilbert addressed is
that scientists agree when personhood begins; there is, in fact, no such consensus and, he argued
that the question of personhood may not be a scientific question at all. However, Gilbert felt that
science does have something important to say about embryo/fetus development, which should
not be misconstrued in public discourse.

During the Q&A period Jenny Reardon wondered how biologists can participate in debates
around abortion and embryo research without calling upon science as the authoritative discourse.
I.e. “Science says x, therefore x.” Martha Kenney followed up on this question by asking
Gilbert: “If you consider images that are contributing the public discourse about embryo research
and abortion to be scientifically misleading, what images do you feel better represents your
knowledge of embryos and fetuses that is grounded in your own experience as a developmental
biologist.” Gilbert described a “gorgeous” colored MRI image he used for the front cover of his
textbook Developmental Biology; he explained that he had to keep telling the publishers to zoom
out on the image so that the fetus would not appear to be floating in space. Listening to Gilbert’s
passion for this image offered us a way to think out of the “science says” dilemma and into a way
of doing a politics of representation from within our professional practices. Donna Haraway
commented that a central problem with the abortion debates was that both sides want to ensure
that persons were protected from death. She argued that death is not the greatest tragedy and that
we need to learn how to kill well (not just protect life). For Haraway, the politics were not (only)
in getting the science right, not only in the images and rhetoric we traffic in, but the ways that
entities are protected and made killable within these moral and scientific discourses. The Q&A
period opened up Gilbert’s talk beyond the question of what science has to say in the abortion
and embryo research debates, to wider questions of representation, ethics, and epistemic
authority in a complex social and scientific landscape.