Research

My research is broadly concerned with what I call the history of “biological futures”—the ideas, materials, and practices that have shaped contemporary systems of knowledge about life and its potential. I am especially interested the values that animated forward-looking projects in biotechnology and ecology in the 20th century. My research cuts across the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and anthropology of science, medicine, and technology.

My recent research on infrastructures for freezing and extending life has opened new questions about death and decay as well as big data and the politics of its reuse. I have also recently begun a new book project that explores the entangled histories of post-World War II science fiction and the history of life science and medicine. It traces the production of ideas about risk and the nature of expertise within and beyond scientific institutions. I have devoted particular attention to the career of Michael Crichton, a Harvard MD and best-selling author of a staggering range of pulp fiction focused on the promise and perils of emerging science and technology.

For more details, please see my CV.

Selected publications

  • Joanna Radin. (2017) Life on Ice: A History of New Uses for Cold Blood (University of Chicago Press) Link ↗︎

  • Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal. (2017) Cyropolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World (MIT University Press) Link ↗︎

  • Joanna Radin. (2017) "Digital Natives: How Medical and Indigenous Histories Matter for Big Data" Osiris Link ↗︎

  • Susan Lindee and Joanna Radin. (2016) "Patrons of the human experience: a history of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1941–2016." Current Anthropology 57.S14: S218-S301. Link ↗︎

  • Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal. (2015) “Indigenous Blood and Ethical Regimes in the United States and Australia Since the 1960s.” American Ethnologist, 42(4): 749-765. Link ↗︎

  • Joanna Radin. (2015) “Planned Hindsight: The Vital Valuations of Frozen Tissue at the Zoo and Natural History Museum” Journal of Cultural Economy. Link ↗︎

  • Joanna Radin (2014) “Unfolding Epidemiological Stories: How the WHO Made Frozen Blood into a Flexible Resource for the Future,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C, 47: 62-73 Link ↗︎

  • Joanna Radin. (2014) “Collecting Human Subjects,” part of special issue, “Archiving Anthropos: The Ethics of Collections in History and Anthropology,” Curator 57(2), co-edited with Ann Kakaliouras Link ↗︎

  • Radin, Joanna. (2013) "Latent life: Concepts and practices of human tissue preservation in the International Biological Program." Social Studies of Science 43.4: 484-508. Link ↗︎

  • Emma Kowal, Joanna Radin, and Jenny Reardon. (2013) "Indigenous body parts, mutating temporalities, and the half-lives of postcolonial technoscience." Social Studies of Science 43.4: 465-483. Link ↗︎