Postgraduate Projects

Cross-species concerns: Responsibilities and implications of human/non-human cross-species for biomedical research and industry

Rachel Carr

This study will examine the social implications of various forms of human/non-human hybrids in biomedicine, including xenotransplantation, Pharming, knock-in mice and cybrids. Completion date: 2012.

(Supervisor: Catherine Waldby)

The political and economic dimensions of affect: the class composition, value and technologies of affective labour

Mark Gawne

This project is developing a critical analysis of divergent theories affect, with a focus on the composition and conditions of new forms of labour. The theory of affective labour is an attempt to come to terms with shifting compositions of work and (re)production in recent decades. This project will take up the theory of affective labour, but through an analysis of the daily confrontation between this labour and those techniques and technologies that facilitate its exploitation. Emerging technologies such as verbal and non-verbal emotion recognition, biometrics and affective computing function as technologies to manage, discipline and speed up processes of affective labour. Such technologies link with analyses emerging from the affective sciences of motivation, affect and emotion, forming a complex series of disciplinary relations, or an apparatus. This project will aim to analyse the emergence, deployment and limitations of this apparatus, and its relationship to theories of affect and labour.

Politics and Plant Biotechnologies: the socio-environmental implications of genetic information and technological exchange between the North and South

Lyndal Halliday

This study develops a new research area, the application of Science Studies methods to agricultural and environmental issues. Completion date: 2009

(Supervisors: Catherine Waldby, Melinda Cooper)

Australian Pediatricians’ use of evidence based medicine in relation to Autism

Brydan Lenne

Brydan is conducting empirical research based on interviews with pediatricians about their diagnostic practices around autism spectrum disorder (ASD), investigating how EBM, which works to standardize clinical practice, interacts with ASD, which lacks a clear diagnostic test and covers a wide and varied set of behaviors. Brydan has indicated her interest in pursing this topic further in doctoral research.

(Supervisor: Catherine Waldby)

Living Well: The Mobilisation of “Lifestyle” as a Medical Technology of Prevention

Christopher Mayes

This thesis examines the way that the concept of lifestyle has been mobilised by within preventative health strategies. It focuses specifically on obesity prevention campaigns in Australia, and seeks to explore the relationship between the stylization and the securitization of life. Due for submission March 2011.

(Supervisor: Catherine Mills, Medicine)

Between risk and resilience: an ontopolitics of preventative mental health

Psychoactive Instruments: drugs, language and the philosophy of science in the works of Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick

Chris Rudge

My thesis draws upon philosophies of science and deconstructionist philosophies of language and rhetoric to examine representations of psychoactive drugs and drug-use in a range of literary and prose texts by Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick. By focusing on these writers’ representations of psychoactive drugs as instruments for productive behavioural and psychological change, my thesis considers the significance - and the political ignominy - of Huxley’s and Dick’s texts: as intriguing and controversial today as ever.

By offering rhetorical and theoretical readings of their works, I examine how these writers encountered and interpreted the development of psychopharmacology and biomedicine in their own time. I also consider how these writers’ were as interested in science, experimental drug use and in altered states of consciousness as they were in questions of political philosophy and interdisciplinarity; that they were as profound in their writing on the limits and nature of ‘hard science’ as they were in their writing of science fiction. More broadly, my thesis is concerned with this ‘psychoactive’ configuration of the rhetorical and the psychopharmacological, the technoscientific and the political. It thus seeks to situate Huxley and Dick within a wider historical and rhetorical context of the emergence of such experimental and ‘psychoactive literacies’ in the mid to late twentieth century.

From "Death of the Female" to "Life Itself": A socio-historical examination of FINRRAGE

Stevie de Saille

The paradigms of social movements theory are often of little use to studies of scientific controversy, as they cannot theorise the relationship between technoscientific expertise and activism beyond the classic categories of 'expert' and 'lay'. There is, as yet, no mutually intelligible framework which addresses the various forms of expertise social movement activists may develop, and the processes by which they generate technoscientific knowledge to support the movement's counter-claims.

This project seeks to develop that framework through a contextualized case study of the Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Technology (FINRRAGE). FINRRAGE was a loose international network of approximately 1000 women from 37 countries which lasted from 1984 – 1997. Their strategy for resistance was based on developing the necessary technoscientific expertise to build epistemic authority for an analysis which rejected reproductive technologies as creating new forms of medicalised violence against women. Through documentary research, supplemented by interviews with founder members and other key activists, the case study will focus on the processes by which the network sought to develop that expertise and operationalise its collective knowledge in support of its goals.

The sociology of schizophrenia

Richard Schweizer

My project looks broadly at the sociology of schizophrenia. More particularly I hope to use the tools of the sociological conceptual toolkit to un-pack the structure and process of diagnosis and, further, how people diagnosed with schizophrenia relate to their diagnosis; how it leads them to re-structure their self-concept (or subjectivity). I will pursue this project through a series of detailed semi-structured interview with people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and interviews with mental health practitioners. I will then order and analyse this data referring to sociological writings regarding mental health and subjectivity. The issue of power between psychiatrists and patients will be thematised with a close reading of Foucault's Power/Knowledge.

This project is important for two reasons. Firstly, close studies of schizophrenia have generally been approached from a medical/positivist scientific perspective; sociology may bring to bear an interesting perspective on oft-discussed issues. Secondly, there have been few close qualitative studies that actually give voice to people diagnosed with schizophrenia themselves; their's is a muted voice. Although my interviews will no doubt favour schizophrenics with a degree coherency - the most intense subjects may be beyond comprehensibilty - it is still a voice to be heard.

(Supervisors: Melinda Cooper, Fran Collyer, SSPS)