Emily Wanderer Assistant Professor

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Emily Wanderer is an anthropologist of science who works primarily in Latin America. Her research integrates medical and environmental anthropology to ask how biological research generates new understandings of nature, how these in turn reshape human practices and uses of the environment, and how human and non-human life are brought into scientific regulation and governance. She received her PhD from MIT in 2014.

Her research and teaching interests include the anthropology of science and technology, medical anthropology, environmental anthropology, risk and security, multispecies ethnography, and Latin America.

Emily Wanderer has conducted multi-sited ethnographic research with life scientists in Mexico; her field sites have included high security labs where scientists study infectious diseases, offices where ecologists regulate the use of genetically modified organisms, and remote islands where conservationists eradicate invasive species. Investigating the lives not only of scientists, but also non-human life forms including Judas goats, wild axolotl salamanders, influenza viruses, and transgenic corn, she studies how non-human life forms are incorporated into social life. In her manuscript based on this research, provisionally titled Multispecies Mexico, she examines how Mexico teems with life forms that tend to go unnoticed by casual observers yet are essential to Mexican conceptions of the nation. Multispecies Mexico tracks the work practices of scientists in the lab, field, and office to argue that they have moved biopolitics and biosecurity beyond a concern with human life to include animal, plant, and microbial worlds.

In future research projects, she plans to study the development of a “One Health” approach to disease and ecology in Mexico, analyzing how boundaries between species are broken down in a paradigm that joins the study and treatment of human and animal health. In addition, she is developing a research project tentatively titled “The Mexican Anthropocene: Transnational Practices of Making and Remaking Landscapes.” This research looks at how responding to human impact on the environment has brought together Mexico and New Zealand, two very different and distant postcolonial nations. As scientists in both countries reacted to anthropogenic landscapes, that is, places where human activity has produced new ecological patterns, they have built close ties, producing new scientific networks and new techniques of comparison and analogic thinking about ecosystems. This multi-sited research will compare how different histories and processes of colonization enable different constructions of nature, landscape, and indigeneity, and how crises of ecological identity play out in different cultural contexts.

Wanderer, E.M. (2017) “Bioseguridad in Mexico: Pursuing Security Between Local and Global Biologies,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, doi 10.1111/maq.12339

Wanderer, E. M. (2015)
“Biologies of Betrayal: Judas Goats and Sacrificial Mice on the Margins of Mexico,” BioSocieties, 10: 1-23.

Wanderer, E.M. (2012)
“Perspectivas Antropológicas Sobre el Riesgo y la Bioseguridad,” AMEXBIO Annual Journal, 18-20 (in Spanish). 

 

The Anthropology of Science: Global Perspectives

Graduate/Undergraduate Seminar. Science and technology are integral to contemporary societies. Understanding how science is produced and how it shapes daily life is a crucial challenge for anthropologists, who have studied the production of scientific knowledge in labs, hospitals, field sites, and elsewhere. While early studies of science as a cultural practice focused primarily on the U.S. and Europe, science and technology are produced and consumed globally. Through analyses of case studies of biotechnology, medicine, genetics, conservation, agriculture, energy, climate science, and computing around the world, this class will investigate the global dynamics of science and technology. Juxtaposing readings on different scientific fields from around the globe, we will look for recurring themes that connect these studies. What happens when science and technology travel, and how do new places emerge as centers of knowledge production? How are culture, identity, technology, and science linked?

Multispecies Ethnography: Anthropology beyond the Human

Undergraduate lecture. What can anthropology tell us about nonhuman life forms? This class examines the interconnections between humans and other life forms, looking at how human cultural, political, and economic activities are shaped by the animal, plant, and microbial forms that surround us and likewise how these life forms are shaped by human activities. Topics addressed will include the interactions of humans and other beings in agriculture, domestication, hunting, scientific research, medicine, pet-keeping, and conservation. We will consider the subjectivity and agency of the nonhuman, our moral and ethical obligations to other life forms, and critically examine divisions between culture and nature.