Professor to Link Diversity in Biology with Diversities in Cultures in UMass Amherst Distinguished Faculty Lecture

Banu Subramaniam
Banu Subramaniam

AMHERST, Mass. – Banu Subramaniam, professor of women, gender, sexuality studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will link basic concepts of variation in biology to concepts of diversity and difference in human communities as part of her Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Tuesday, March 8.

Subramaniam’s lecture, titled “Interdisciplinary Hauntings: The Ghostly Worlds of Naturecultures,” begins at 4 p.m. in the Goodell Hall’s Bernie Dallas Room. Following her talk, Subramaniam will receive the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition given for service to the campus.

Subramaniam will make a case for interdisciplinary work across the humanities and the natural and social sciences and explore how histories of gender and race have shaped contemporary biological theories and what we can learn about the relationships between natures and cultures.

“I want us to think about what morning glories or alien plant and animal species may have to do with gender, race, or eugenics,” says Subramaniam.

Subramaniam is the author of “Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity” (2014). She is also an editor, with Betsy Hartmann and Charles Zerner, of “Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties” (2005), and, with Lisa Weasel, of “Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation” (2001).

Subramaniam joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 2001, having taught at the University of Arizona, and directing the Women in Science program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition she served as Andrew W. Mellow Fellow for the UCLA Humanities Consortium at UCLA and held academic appointments at Harvard and Northeastern universities, as well as at the University of California at Irvine.

After completing her baccalaureate degree at the University of Madras in India, Subramaniam earned a Ph.D. in zoology/genetics at Duke University.

The final lecture in the 2015-16 Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series at UMass Amherst will be presented by Cynthia L. Baldwin of the department of veterinary and animal sciences, whose lecture on Monday, April 11 is titled “Responding to Infectious Diseases: Next Generation Vaccines.”