CFP for SLSA 2015 Panel: Clinical Labor (Deadline: March 20th)

full name / name of organization: 
Panel for Society for Literature, Science and the Arts

Clinical Labor in Biomedicine

This call for papers invites interdisciplinary approaches to the topic of labor in biomedicine. In an economy where genetic patenting, globalized division of labor in clinical trials, assisted reproductive services, and other forms of what Kaushik Sunder Rajan has called lively capital are increasingly becoming central to biological innovation, we need theories of value that take these forms of biolabor into account. Following Melinda Cooper and Catherine Waldby's discussion of changing conditions of labor under late capitalism in their book Clinical Labor: Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy (2014), this panel seeks to expand on their insight that biolabor in a post-Fordist system of flexible, contract labor operates through forms of reproductive and experimental labor that make biological health a form of economic exchange. We are interested in reexamining the ways in which biological systems and agents challenge simple divisions between commodities and means of production, as a central component of both affirmative and thanatopolitical biopolitical paradigms.
We welcome interdisciplinary approaches to this topic that consider how clinical labor is addressed in art, literature, and media as well as in anthropology or sociology. We are especially interested in papers that could introduce conversations on topics such as:

  • The role of animal labor in clinical labor trials
  • Historical changes in models of labor in medical innovation and experimentation
  • Clinical labor from a postcolonial perspective
  • The gendered, affective labor of surrogacy and egg donation
  • Tissue economies and organ transfer
  • Clinical trials and the development of "professional guinea pigs" in pharmaceutical research
  • Speculative financial practices in the bioeconomy
  • Cognitive and intellectual labor in biomedicine
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Tissue banks and surgical "waste"
  • The role of patient advocacy organizations
  • Bio-art as a form of labor
  • The role of social and/or mobile media in biolabor

Please send 250 word abstracts and a one-page CV to Stina Attebery ( and Lorenzo Servitje ( by March 20th. Decisions will be made within one week of this deadline, allowing time for papers not accepted for the panels to be resubmitted as individual papers by the conference deadline of April 1.