1136 Lane Hall
204 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI
Phone: 734–764–9537
Fax: 734–764–9533


Feminist Science Studies

Director: Sari M. van Anders, Psychology; Women's Studies; Programs in Neuroscience, Reproductive Sciences, and Science, Technology & Society.

Steering Committee:

  • Elizabeth Anderson, Philosophy, Women's Studies
  • Anna Kirkland, Women's Studies, Political Science
  • Sara McClelland, Women's Studies, Psychology
  • Elizabeth F.S. Roberts, Anthropology
  • Laura Ruetsche, Philosophy
  • Alexandra Minna Stern, Obstetrics & Gynecology, History, American Culture
  • Robin Zheng, Graduate Student, Philosophy

Why does prenatal dexamethasone treatment focus more on fetal sex than fetal or maternal health? How does the language of 'invasive species' mirror xenophobic barrier policing against certain kinds of peoples? What does the genital-genital rubbing of non-human primates tell us about queer sexualities? If science and culture co-constitute each other, can there be one universal secular science? Our Feminist Science Studies program brings together diverse speakers to discuss feminist critiques of science, feminist deconstructions of science, and feminist constructions of science and scientific knowledge. We bring in individual speakers to talk about big ideas in feminist science studies, from Helen Longino to Sandra Harding to Kim TallBear. We also do 'mash-ups', bringing together scholars from disparate, sometimes orthogonal, locations on campus, like Paul Vasey (animal behavior) and Jennifer Terry (queer theory). Feminist science studies provides a unique space on campus for the intersection of ideas from feminism with science, and for creating new languages and provocative bridges between porous disciplines.


Kim TallBear
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas-Austin

Click for more information.

Beyond life/not life: A feminist-indigenous reading of cryopreservation practice and ethics, interspecies thinking, and the new materialisms
Friday, February 6, 2015
3:00 PM
2239 Lane Hall

Cryopreservation enables storage and preservation of bio-specimens—including those taken from indigenous peoples’ bodies, often within earlier ethical and racial regimes—into times and spaces beyond those inhabited by the (once) living bodies. New bioethical responses are afoot. But when they emerge from non-indigenous institutions and philosophical terrain they cannot fully address indigenous peoples’ interpretations and ethical needs. Indigenous responses to cryopreservation technologies and practices can be more fully understood not simply by recourse to “bioethics,” but also by weaving together the approaches of indigenous thinkers historically with newer thinking in indigenous studies, feminist science studies, critical animal studies, and the new materialisms. 

This talk weaves into conversation diverse intellectual threads in order to help us understand how the lines between life and not life, materiality and the sacred are not so easily drawn for some indigenous peoples. This implicates how we approach from an indigenous standpoint the ethics of the preservation and new use of old biological samples. More fundamentally, this talk interrogates the underlying concept of “preservation” that emerges from non-indigenous institutions in the form of technological and policy practices. Such practices compartmentalize indigenous history, bodies, and landscapes into a historical before and after that undercuts the very idea of indigenous peoples and landscapes as fully alive today.

Presented by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender's Feminist Science Studies Program and the Department of Anthropology.

Prof. TallBear blogs about science, technology, and indigenous issues atwww.kimtallbear.com, and tweets @KimTallBear. She hails from Dakota peoples in Minnesota and South Dakota. She is enrolled in the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and is also descended from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.


Laura Mamo
Department of Health Education, Health Equity Insitute, San Francisco State University

Click for more information.

HPV and the Expanding Sexual Politics of Cancer Prevention
Monday, October 27, 2014
4:00 PM
2239 Lane Hall

This talk examines gender and sexual politics shaping contemporary contours of cancer prevention in light of scientific knowledge that infection with the human papillomavirus, HPV, is causally connected with multiple cancers including up to 90% of cervical cancers in women. Knowledge of sexual transmission at once directs scientific attention “inward” to the molecular level of the viral causal agent and “outward” to the worlds of sexual practices, cultures, and identities that may be causally linked to the risk of transmission. This talk examines this new way of apprehending cancer by foregrounding gender and sexual politics found in HPV vaccination, anal cancer research, and depictions of what some regard as a rising throat cancer epidemic. The talk is based on preliminary findings from ethnographic research with scientists, health practitioners, and publics around these emergent epistemologies and practices of cancer prevention.

Laura Mamo received her PhD in sociology from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 2002. She is currently Health Equity Associate Professor of Health Education at San Francisco State University. Her teaching and research interests are in feminist science studies with a focus on women’s health, LGBT health, and sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. She is the author of Queering Reproduction: Achieving Pregnancy in the Age of Technoscience (Duke University Press, 2007) and Co-editor of Biomedicalization: Technoscience, Health, and Illness in the U.S. (Duke University Press, 2010).

Presented by IRWG's Feminist Science Studies program and cosponsored by the Reproductive Justice program.


Helen Longino
Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University

Click for more information.

Sex, Race, and Sciences of Human Behavior
Friday, April 11, 2014
3:00 PM
Michigan Union Anderson Room


This talk examines how the conceptualization of certain behaviors (sexuality; aggression) in preparation for their scientific examination incorporates and/or reinforces social ideologies of sex and race.

Helen Longino received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 1973. Her teaching and research interests are in philosophy of science, social epistemology, and feminist philosophy. Longino is the author of Science As Social Knowledge (Princeton University Press, 1990), The Fate of Knowledge (Princeton University Press, 2001) and Studying Human Behavior, a study of the relationship between logical, epistemological, and social aspects of behavioral research (University of Chicago Press, 2013).


Rayna Rapp
Professor of Anthropology, New York University

Click for more information.

Banking on DNA Futures: Thinking About Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests in Comparative Contexts
Monday, September 30, 2013
4:00 PM
2239 Lane Hall

  • Elizabeth F.S. Roberts (Anthropology)
  • Alexandra Minna Stern (Obstetrics & Gynecology, History, American Culture)
  • Audrey Norby (Fetal Diagnostic Center, U-M Hospital and Health Systems)
  • “Banking on DNA: Thinking About Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing in Comparative Contexts” begins with an overview of the “endless frontier” in reproductive technology. Technologies of fertility regulation and control now proliferate in the developing world, beyond the countries where they were first debuted: Europe, North America, Australia. Now, selective and expanding parts of the world –not just the rich populations stratified in the global North—occupy a long-term “existential gap” with regard to biomedical aspirations and fears, increasingly focused on infertile women, men, and fetuses. Prof. Rapp illustrates new iterations of the gap continually revised and expanded using the case of Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests, now making their way through the marketplace into the lives of America’s pregnant women.

    What does it mean to launch yet-another technology that assumes total reproductive control over fetal disabilities can be achieved? This presentation highlights the hidden burdens and ethics of the rapid diffusion etched into the NIPTs.

    Cosponsors: Program in Sexual Rights and Reproductive Justice and Science, Technology, & Society.


    Banu Subramaniam
    Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    Peggy Schultz
    Director of Biology Outreach, Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington

    James Bever
    Professor of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington 

    Click for more information.

    Community Ecologies
    Thursday, March 14, 2013
    3:30 PM
    2239 Lane Hall

    U-M Discussants:
    • Nadine Naber, Associate Professor, Arab American Studies, American Culture, Women's Studies
    • Jacinta Beehner, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Psychology.
    Imagine a garden; now imagine the seemingly innocuous language you might use to select suitable plantings. In Community Ecologies, three transdisciplinary scholars of biology and feminist science studies will discuss their collaborative theoretical and experimental work on "invasive species." These scholars will ask how certain plant and animal species come to be seen as invasive – and thus foreign – and how this terminology parallels language around humans and migration. How might experiments on soil/plant interactions speak to xenophobia? How does invasion biology relate to community ecology? And, what does it mean to do ecology as a critically and politically engaged scientist? In this event, Banu Subramaniam (Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies), Peggy Schultz (Biology Outreach), and James Bever (Biology) discuss their deeply interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and its compelling implications for close ties between feminist science studies, transnational feminisms, and biology/ecology.

    Joan Fujimura
    Professor, Sociology & Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Click for more information.

    The Concept of "Race" in the Age of Genomics
    Friday, April 19, 2013
    12:00 PM-1:30 PM
    2239 Lane Hall


    Paul Vasey
    Psychology, University of Lethbridge

    Jennifer Terry
    Women's Studies, University of California, Irvine

    Click for more information.

    Queer Science
    Wednesday, October 3, 2012
    11:30 AM
    2239 Lane Hall

    Sandra Harding
    Education and Women's Studies, UCLA

    Click for more information.

    Science and Secularism: Feminist Issues
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012
    4:00 PM-5:30 PM
    Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery Room 100

    Alice Dreger
    Clinical Medical Humanities & Bioethics, Northwestern

    Anne Lyerly
    Social Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Click for more information.

    Gestating Gender
    Tuesday, November 13, 2012
    11:30 AM
    2239 Lane Hall

    For more information, contact Prof. Sari M. van Anders.