Joanna Radin, PhD

Associate Professor Term

Research Interests

Bioethics; Death; Epidemiology; Ethics; Expeditions; History of Medicine; Medicine in Literature; Global Health; Cryopreservation; Biomedical Technology; Infectious Disease Medicine

Research Organizations

History of Medicine

Global Health Studies

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Summary

My book, Life on Ice: A History of New Uses for Cold Blood (University of Chicago Press, 2017) tracks Cold War efforts to freeze blood salvaged from members of indigenous communities. This project, which helps to explain the current phenomenon of biobanking, focuses on ideas about human life science and practices of salvage. The broader role of freezing technologies in modern society is explored in the co-authored (with Emma Kowal) book, Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World (MIT University Press, 2017).

These lines of investigation are part of a bigger research program on "biomedical futures," a historical and anthropological inquiry into how visions of the future shape the emergence of biomedicine in the present. This has included research on the history of "big data," of science and colonialism, of patronage for the human sciences, and of the relationship between science fiction and scientific speculation.

Specialized Terms: Global histories of biology, ecology, medicine, and anthropology since 1945; history and anthropology of life and death; biomedical technology and computing; feminist, indigenous, and queer STS; science fiction

Selected Publications

  • ’Digital Natives’: How Medical and Indigenous History Matter For Big Data Joanna Radin (2017) Osiris.
  • Life on Ice: A History of New Uses for Cold Blood Joanna Radin (2017) Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal (eds) Cambridge: MIT University Press, 2017
  • Patrons of the Human Experience: A History of The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Susan Lindee and Joanna Radin. (2016) Current Anthropology, 57(S14): S218-S301.
  • “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:
  • “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
  • Unfolding epidemiological stories: how the WHO made frozen blood into a flexible resource for the future.

    Radin J. 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 2014, 47 Pt A: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).

Full List of PubMed Publications

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