Former UW STS researchers collaborate on marine biomaterials & ocean governance project

Three recent UW-Madison researchers have begun a three-year project titled “Circulatory Entanglements: Marine Biomaterials and Paradoxes in Ocean Governance”, funded by the UK-based Leverhulme Trust.  The project is led by Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, formerly a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the UW Center for the Humanities and now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University.  Along with collaborators, Wisconsin-based artist Dr. Helen J. Bullard (who recently earned a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Arts and Science from the UW-Madison) and Dr. Kristoffer Whitney (formerly a postdoc in the Holtz Center and now in the STS Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology), the team will take a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the circulation of marine biomaterials through ecologies, economies, and conservation regimes.

The project involves three case studies, tracing the movements of horseshoe crab blood, jellyfish proteins and stem cells, and shrimp shell-derived chitosan as they circulate from oceans and estuaries, through biopharmaceutical processes, to human bodies and markets.  These circulations point up the complex interrelationships between conservation biology, the promises of the so-called “Blue Economy,” the biopolitics of human health, and the precarious nature of marine ecologies.  The Leverhulme Research Project grant will help shed light on how biomaterials become part of contradictory plans for ocean governance and paradoxical narratives of ocean futures.

The Project is currently hiring a postdoc!  The application deadline is October 11.