I am a historian of twentieth-century science and technology, and my research deals with the practices and technologies through which medical and research communities produce knowledge about human life. My current book project examines how in the mid-twentieth century the field of human genetics was shaped by blood group research and, by extension, bureaucratic technologies of public health, colonial and Cold War politics, and changing standards in the study of race. By following how blood groups were produced and used—in transfusion centres, hospitals, university laboratories and anthropological field sites—the project traces the practices and politics that made humans 'genetic' and genetics into a form of knowledge relevant to human life. The book is based on my dissertation 'Blood Groups and the Rise of Human Genetics in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain' (University of Cambridge, 2014), which received the Marc-Auguste Pictet Prize for a dissertation or book on the history of the life sciences, from the Société de Physique et d’Histoire Naturelle, Switzerland.
A principal theme of my book is the epistemic and practical functions of administrative tools in science, particularly inscriptions. Broader issues relating to the administrative tools of human genetics are also discussed in a 13-paper special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, which I co-edited with Soraya de Chadarevian.
Another area of interest is in the functions and consequences of visibility and invisibility of people and processes that produce scientific knowledge. Raising themes of identity, justice, narrative and inscription—including in our own practices as historians—Judith Kaplan and I recently developed these topics in the context of our workshop: ‘(In)visible Labour: Knowledge production in the human sciences’. The essays from that workshop will be published as an MPIWG preprint in 2016.
Before turning to history of science, I obtained a doctorate in biology at University College London and worked as a geneticist in the University of Edinburgh. My PhD dissertation in history of science was funded by the Wellcome Trust and carried out in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge.
- Institute Event
Unusual Lives: Historicizing Life as a Problem of KnowledgeMORE
Medical Demography in Interwar Angola. Measuring and Negotiating Health, Reproduction and DifferenceMORE
From Anatomical Collection to National Museum, ca. 1895: or How Women´s Pelvises and Skulls Began to Speak the Language of Mexican National HistoryMORE
The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge after the GenomeMORE
Making Human Difference Genetic in the 1950sMORE
Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities
Colloquium: Historisches Seminar der Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Invited lecture: University of Manchester, UK
Invited lecture: University of Uppsala, Sweden
Workshop, Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICI), Berlin, Germany: "Models and Images as Sites of Competition and Cooperation in Science"