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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Living Laboratories: Remapping the Legacy of Experiments in American Empire

  • Author(s): Khanmalek, Tala
  • Advisor(s): Feldman, Keith P
  • et al.
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Living Laboratories traces the gendered racialization of U.S. empire’s colonial expansion from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, as well as women of color feminist texts of the late-twentieth century that reframe these legacies for our present. Each chapter focuses on what I call a “living laboratory,” a transnational site of state-sanctioned medical experimentation on populations regarded as bearers of disease. By examining the laws that precede invasive public health measures, I show how these living laboratories within and beyond the United States' national territorial borders circulate interconnected regimes of control. Central to my genealogical remapping of experiments in American empire are the narrated experiences of those not fully recognizable in the annals of history. By reading multi-genre literary works in relation to the juridical and scientific archive, Living Laboratories recovers agential subjects through an alternative grid of intelligibility. In doing so, I emphasize the distinctly embodied subjectivities that emerge from wounded flesh, pursuing a critique of what it means to be human from the literally and figuratively dismembered perspectives of writers Gayl Jones, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Aurora Levíns Morales.

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This item is under embargo until April 2, 2021.