Recent events for the Gender and Modernity Group


International Workshop: Clinical Labour and the New Labour Studies

22-23 May 2012
(led by Prof. Catherine Waldy & Dr Melinda Cooper)

The purpose of the workshop will be to further develop the connection between critical labour studies and biopolitical studies. The notion of clinical labour forms a starting point for the interrogating of this connection. In their forthcoming book Clinical Labour: Tissue donors and Research Subjects in the Bioeconomy, (Duke University Press) Melinda Cooper and Catherine Waldby coin the term to describe the productive bodily work performed by tissue donors and medical research subjects in the bioeconomy, the sectors of the economy driven by life sciences innovation. This terminology is new because, generally speaking, tissue donation and participation in clinical trials are not understood as forms of work. Tissue providers - those who surrender blood, saliva, semen, oöcytes embryos, kidneys and other forms of ‘live’ tissue - are generally cast as altruistic donors who give for the public good, even in cases where they are paid a fee or their tissues are commercialized. Clinical trial participants are understood to be volunteers who receive compensation rather than wages, compensation kept at low rates by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and bioethics committees to discourage economic coercion. Hence, the actual providers of biological material or experimental experience do not figure within the division of labor in the life sciences. The bioeconomic innovation process both assumes and relies upon this access to living human bodies, yet their material participation does not appear in the value chain.

The workshop will bring together leading international and Australian scholars whose empirical and conceptual focus has contributed to this research. This will include scholars who have developed ethnographic studies of clinical labour markets and scholars whose work contributes to the theoretical reconceptualization of bodily labour in the contemporary moment. The aim of the workshop is to further develop and open out the research field, to improve dialogue between cognate areas (e.g. knowledge work, precarity, affective labour, reproductive labour, biological labour) and identify future research questions and collaborative possibilities.


  • Jill Fisher (Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt
  • University, Nashville, TN)
  • Kaushik Sunder Rajan (University of Chicago)
  • Elizabeth Hill (SSPS, U Sydney)
  • Brett Nielsen (CCR, UWS)
  • Lisa Adkins (Newcastle U)
  • Dick Bryan (SSPS, U Sydney)
  • Terry Woronov (SSPS, U Sydney)


  • Visiting Scholars/Masterclasses
    “How to do the History of Sexuality: Reflections on Archive, Genealogy, and Method”, Master Classes with:
    Professor Valerie Traub
    30 May 2011
    Professor Laura Doan
    22 September 2011.
    Co-sponsored by Gender and Modernity Research Group and SLAM.
    Download more information here
  • Visiting Scholar / Public Lecture
    Professor Paula Rabinowitz (University of Minnesota),
    Public Lecture
    Monday 21 November 2011, 4-6pm.


  • Masterclass/Visiting Scholar, Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge (UEA, UK), “Freud and Arendt”
  • Symposium on “Gender and Modernity in the Asia-Pacific”
  • Symposium on the television series Mad Men
  • Roundtable on Gender and Technology


  • Remembering Eve Sedgwick: The beginnings, present and future of queer theory’.
  • Public lecture/Visiting Scholar, Professor Sarah Ahmed (Goldsmith’s, UK), “Feminism and the History of Happiness”
  • Masterclass/Visiting Scholar, Professor Rosalind Gill (Open University, UK), “Postfeminism”
  • Symposium on “Fashion and Modernity”