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Banu Subramaniam

Professor and Chair

Banu Subramaniam

(413) 545-1922

W401B South College

Banu Subramaniam received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Madras, India, and her Ph.D. in Zoology and Genetics from Duke University. Originally trained as an evolutionary biologist and plant scientist, Subramaniam’s pioneering research in Feminist Science Studies has made her a leader in the field. Her work explores the philosophy, history, and culture of the natural sciences and medicine as they relate to gender, race, ethnicity, and caste. Her latest research rethinks the field and practice of botany in relation to histories of colonialism and xenophobia and explores the wide travels of scientific theories, ideas, and concepts as they relate to migration and invasive species.

Subramaniam’s newest book, Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism (University of Washington Press, 2019), focuses on how science and religion have become interwoven in emergent nationalist politics and novel conceptions of modernity in India. The book weaves together techno-poetic myths and storytelling with imminent critique of scientific discourses to undo rigid notions of identity and belonging. Her previous book, Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity (University of Illinois Press, 2014), was winner of the Ludwik Fleck Prize 2016 for an outstanding book across the breadth of science and technology studies. She is co-editor of Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation (Routledge, 2001) that put Feminist Science Studies on the map. Her forthcoming edited volume with Duke University Press, MEAT! A Transnational Analysis—coedited with Sushmita Chatterjee, looks at human/animal/plant relations and at the production and consumption of meat (and its alternatives) from the vantage of a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars working at the intersections of the sciences and the humanities.  

In 2016, Subramaniam won the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest faculty honor given by the University of Massachusetts Amherst in recognition of service to the campus, was al chosen as one of the speakers in the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series, a celebration of excellence in public scholarship and teaching. 


Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism (University of Washington Press, 2019)

Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity (University of Illinois Press, 2014) – winner of the Ludwik Fleck Prize 2016

Decolonizing Botany: From the Herbarium to the Plantarium (University of Washington Press, under contract)

Edited Volumes:

  • MEAT! A Transnational Analysis,coedited with Sushmita Chatterjee (Duke University Press, under contract)
  • Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties. Rowman and Littlefield, 2005. (co-edited with Betsy Hartmann and Charles Zerner
  • Feminist Science studies: A New Generation. New York/London: Routledge, 2001. (co-edited with Maralee Mayberry and Lisa Weasel)
  • “Science Out of Feminist Theory,” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, Double Special Issue- Vol. 3(1): “Feminism’s Science(s)” and Vol. 3 (2): “Remaking Science(s)” (coedited with Angela Willey), Fall 2017.

Recent Articles and Essays:

  • Like a Tumbleweed in Eden: The Diasporic Life of Concepts, Contributions to the History of Concepts, Volume 14, Issue 1, Summer: 1-16, 2019
  • Counter-narratives of the Enlightenment: Tales from the edges of science and religion in India. In Contradiction Studies: Mapping the Field, Katrin Amelang, Gisela Febel, Michi Knecht and Anne Rohrbach eds. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2019.
  • Overpopulation Is Not the Problem. Public Books, November 27, 2018
  • What Indians and Indians Can Teach Us about Colonization: Feminist Science and Technology Studies, Epistemological Imperialism, and the Politics of Difference. Feminist Studies, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2017 (with Jennifer Hamilton and Angela Willey)
  • Recolonizing India: Troubling the anti-colonial, decolonial, postcolonial. Catalyst: Journal of Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, Vol 3(1) 2017
  • Labor in the Age of “Bio-Everything, Radical History Review 127, January 2017. (with Rebecca Herzig)
  • Inside the Social World of Asocials: White Nerd Masculinity, Science, and the Politics of Reverent Disdain. Feminist Studies, 43(1), 2017. (with Angela Willey)
  • Spectacles of Belonging: (Un)documenting Citizenship in a Multispecies World, In The Ethics and Rhetoric of Invasion Ecology, In The Ethics and Rhetoric of Invasion Ecology, James Stanescu and Kevin Cummings eds., Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
  • Stories We Tell: Feminism, Science, Methodology, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol LI, No 18, April 2016.
  • Resisting Power, Retooling Justice: Promises of Feminist Postcolonial Technosciences, Introduction to Special Issue on Feminist Postcolonial Science Studies, Science, Technology and Human Values, Vol 41, No. 6, November 2016. (with Anne Pollock)
  • On the Derpy Science of Sexuality: Commentary on Sari van Anders’s Sexual Configurations Theory. Archives of Sexual Behavior 45, No. 3, April 2016. (with Angela Willey)
  • Matter in the Shadows: Feminist New Materialism and the Practices of Colonialism, In Mattering: Feminism, Science and Materialism, Victoria Pitts-Taylor ed. NYU Press, 2016. (with Deboleena Roy)
  • Colonial Legacies, Postcolonial Biologies Gender and the Promises of Biotechnology, Asian Biotechnology and Development Review. Vol. 17, No. 1, March 2015: 15-36.
  • The Mating Life of Geeks: Love, Science, and the New Autistic Subject, Signs, Winter 2015. (with Angela Willey, Jennifer Hamilton, and Jane Couperus)
  • Assembling Asian/American Naturecultures: Orientalism and Invited Invasions, Journal of Asian American Studies, Volume 16, No 1, February 2013, 1-23 (with Karen Cardozo)

Awards and Accolades

Chancellor’s Medal, University of Massachusetts, 2016 (highest faculty honor given by the campus in recognition of service to the University)

Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, University of Massachusetts, 2016

2016 Ludwik Fleck Prize for Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity for the best overall book in the field of Science and Technology Studies, Society for the Social Studies of Science in 2015.

Courses Recently Taught

  • Gender, Sexuality, Culture
  • Public Health/Private Decisions:  Ethics and Medicine
  • The Handmaid's Tale?  The Future of Reproduction
  • Issues in Feminist Research
  • Health Race, Medicine: Technologies of the Future
  • Politics of Reproduction
  • WGSS Reads the News
  • Postcolonial Feminist Science Studies
  • Race, Gender and Science
  • Introduction to the Biology of Difference
  • Gender and Difference: Critical Analyses
  • Morals & Medicine
  • Interrogating Fear: Biothreats and Environmental Anxieties
  • Gender and Technology
  • Clones & Clones: The Politics of Reproductive Cloning;
  • Feminism, Religion, and Science; A Comparative Analysis