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Where now for the social science of the biosciences and biotechnology?

Both the times and the objects of inquiry at the bioscience-society interface have shifted since the field’s initial formation centered around issues such as novel genomic technologies and the molecularization of medicine, the commoditization of reproduction, and the optimization of brains.

This talk explores the questions and theoretical directions emergent in this domain of work now, as we continue to experience a world transformed by pandemic conditions and gain new perspectives on the task of understanding biological life as social form and social forms as biological states in times of environmental crisis.

Since its founding in 2006, the journal BioSocieties has been an agenda-setting venue for scholarship in the social sciences of the biosciences, and all are welcome to join its Senior Editors – at Bush House in London and online – for a public lecture on the state of the field.

This lecture is part of the 'Age of Health' series in which experts from the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King's talk to activists and leaders about one of the defining issues of our age: health.

This event is hybrid. A zoom link will be sent to registered guests prior to the start of the talk.


Professor Hannah Landecker

Hannah Landecker uses the tools of history and social science to study contemporary developments in the life sciences, and their historical taproots in the twentieth century. 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. 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.

Landecker’s work focuses on the social and historical study of biotechnology and life science, from 1900 to now. She is interested in the intersections of biology and technology, with a particular focus on cells, and the in vitro conditions of life in research settings.


Professor Nikolas Rose

Nikolas Rose is Distinguished Honorary Professor in the Research School for Social Sciences at the Australian National University, and Honorary Professor in the Institute of Advanced Studies at University College London. He was Professor of Sociology at Kings College London from 2012 until April 2021. He was the founding Head of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s and Co-Founder and Co-Director of King’s ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health, the UK’s first major research centre on the social dimensions of mental distress.

His current research concerns the changing relationships between the life sciences and the social sciences, and the role of the life sciences and neurosciences in changing conceptions of human identity, reshaping ideas of normality and pathology, and shifting ways of thinking about and governing human beings, in particular in relation to mental life and mental health.

Professor Catherine Waldby

Catherine Waldby is Director of the Research School of Social Sciences, at the Australian National University, and Visiting Professor at the Department of Social Science and Medicine at King’s College London.

Her researches focuses on social studies of biomedicine and the life sciences. Her recent books include The Global Politics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Science: Regenerative Medicine in Transition, (with Herbert Gottweis and Brian Salter, Palgrave 2009) and Clinical Labour: Tissue donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy (with Melinda Cooper, Duke University Press 2014).

With Nikolas Rose and Hannah Landecker, she is the editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for the social studies of life sciences. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a member of the History and Philosophy committee of the Academy of Science.  She has received national and international research grants for her work on stem cells, blood donation and biobanking.

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Event details

South East, Room 1.05
Bush House
Strand campus, 30 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BG