Mar 14 - Coleman Nye, GSWS "Unsettling Science: Race, Gender, and Genetics in Speculative Times"

Talk Description:

In the context of breast and ovarian cancer genetics, it is becoming commonplace for researchers, patients, and policymakers to acknowledge the ontological indeterminacies and social contingencies of genetics. Cancer “previvors” like Angelina Jolie are surgically treating their hereditary cancer risk much like already manifest disease; cancer geneticists are openly engaging in the politics of science through frameworks of financial speculation and social justice; and legislators are debating whether human genes are social constructs or products of nature. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research on the BRCA genes, this talk attends to the potentials of these speculative practices to render apparent the shifting political, economic, and social dimensions of knowledge production. At the same time, this talk asks how this apparent transparency newly obscures or exacerbates enduring social inequalities, and turns to the potentials of feminist of color critique to offer more robust frameworks of relation, inheritance, and unsettlement in and beyond cancer genetics.

Coleman Nye, Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS), SFU


Coleman Nye is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University. She is the co-author of the graphic novel Lissa: A Story of Friendship, Medical Promise, and Revolution (University of Toronto Press, 2017). Her work has also appeared in TDR: The Drama Review, Women and Performance, and Performance Matters. Her current book project, Speculative Science: Gender, Genetics, and the Futures of Life locates race and gender as central to formations of knowledge and power in contemporary cancer genetics.