Annie Menzel

Gender & Women's Studies

acmenzel@wisc.edu

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Annie Menzel’s research focuses on race, gender, and reproductive politics in North America. Trained as a political theorist with an emphasis on Black political thought, especially Black feminisms, feminist political theory, queer theory, and biopolitics, her work brings these literatures to bear on the histories and current shape of public health and medicine. She is particularly interested in the recent turn to epigenetics as an explanatory framework for racial disparities in maternal and infant health. In the final chapter of her book, The Political Life of Black Infant Mortality, under contract with the University of California Press, she discerns both promises and perils in this epigenetic paradigm, situating it within the long history of public health conceptualizations of, and interventions in, US Black-white disparities in infant mortality. A related new project, tentatively entitled The Molecular Politics of Reproduction, will examine the turn to epigenetics to explain health disparities, including the impacts of environmental toxicity, in the US and Canada. It explores the affective, practical, and political dimensions of epigenetic research on racism and health inequities, asking how maternal bodies raced as White, Black, and Indigenous are respectively targeted (e.g. as vectors of risk, disease, or value), and how questions of historical trauma, white/settler violence, and redress shape the research and its applications.