Joanna Radin, PhD

Assistant Professor in the History of Medicine, of Anthropology and of History

Research Interests

Bioethics; Ethics; Expeditions; History of Medicine; Global Health; Cryopreservation; Biomedical Technology

Research Organizations

History of Medicine

Global Health Initiative

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Summary

I am currently at work on a book about Cold War efforts to freeze blood salvaged from members of indigenous communities. This project focuses on ideas about human life science and practices of salvage. Related research deals with the history, anthropology, and ethics of cryopreservation with special attention to the uses of cold storage in the realms of regenerative biomedicine and biodiversity conservation.

Other ongoing projects include an edited book, tentatively titled, Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World, Cold War histories of global biomedicine and indigeneity; the mobility and ethics of “big data”; a history of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (with Susan Lindee); a biological history of decay; and a biography of science fiction author, Michael Crichton.

Specialized Terms: History of biology, medicine, and anthropology since 1945; Scientific expeditions; Biomedical ethics, human subjects research, collections, and laboratories; History of global health; Biomedical technology

Extensive Research Description

I am currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled Life on Ice: Frozen Blood and Biological Variation in a Genomic Age which tracks the rise of human tissue as a resource for remaking anthropology and population genetics after World War II.

Related, I have been collaborating with biological and medical anthropologists on issues pertaining to the management of human remains.

As an outgrowth of my research on the preservation of human tissues, I am investigating genetic salvage projects focused on non-humans, particularly organisms classes as "endangered."

I also have interests in the Cold War roots of "Global Health" and am conducting research for a book on the relationship between the World Health Organization and the molecular life sciences.

"Not Allowed to Die" is an exploration of resistence to death in American biomedical culture since 1945.

"The Fiction of Fear" is a study of American attitudes towards emerging technologies as viewed through the fiction of Michael Crichton.

Selected Publications

  • Joanna Radin. (forthcoming) “Planning for the Past: Cryopreservation and the Endangerment Sensibility at the Farm, Zoo, and Museum” in Fernando Vidal and Nelia Das (eds), Endangerment, Biodiversity and Culture. Routledge.
  • Joanna Radin.(forthcoming) “Planned Hindsight: Banking Frozen Life at the Zoo and Natural History Museum”, Journal of Cultural Economy
  • Joanna Radin. (2014) “Collecting Human Subjects,” Curator 57(2).
  • 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 Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47:62-73.
  • Emma Kowal, Joanna Radin, Jenny Reardon. (2013) “Indigenous Body Parts, Mutating Temporalities, and the Half-Lives of Postcolonial Technoscience” Programmatic introduction to special issue of Social Studies of Science on “Indigenous Body Parts and Postcolonial Technoscience.” 43(4)
  • Joanna Radin. (2013) “Latent Life: Concepts and Practices of Tissue Preservation in the International Biological Program.” Social Studies of Science 43(4): 483-508.
  • “Studying Mandela’s children: human biology in post-Apartheid South Africa.” “Studying Mandela’s children: human biology in post-Apartheid South Africa” An interview with Noel Cameron, by Joanna Radin. Published as part of “The Biological Anthropology of Living Human Populations: World Histories, National Styles and International Networks” Current Anthropology, 2012, 53(S5).
  • Sarah Kaplan & Joanna Radin. (2011) “Bounding an Emerging Technology: Deconstructing the Drexler-Smalley Debate about Nanotechnology.” Social Studies of Science. 41(4) 457–485. (authors listed alphabetically).
  • Jonathan Scott Friedlaender as told to Joanna Radin. From Anthropometry to Genomics: Reflections of a Pacific Fieldworker. ( Press, 2009.)
  • Arthur Daemmrich & Joanna Radin (eds). Perspectives on Risk and Regulation: The FDA at 100 (Philadelphia: CHF Press, 2007).
  • “Indigenous Blood and Ethical Regimes in the United States and Australia Since the 1960s.” Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal. (2015) American Ethnologist, 42(4): 749-765.
  • “Planned Hindsight: The Vital Valuations of Frozen Tissue at the Zoo and Natural History Museum” Joanna Radin. (2015) Journal of Cultural Economy. DOI:
  • “Unfolding Epidemiological Stories: How the WHO Made Frozen Blood into a Flexible Resource for the Future" Joanna Radin (2014) Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C, 47: 62-73
  • “Collecting Human Subjects,” part of special issue, “Archiving Anthropos: The Ethics of Collections in History and Anthropology" Joanna Radin. (2014) Curator 57(2), co-edited with Ann Kakaliouras

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Joanna Radin, PhD