Conversations in Science Series
A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District
and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sonderegger Science Center (Click here for parking information)
1000 Edgewood College Drive Madison, Wisconsin

Professor Jill Casid
Department of Art History
University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Chimeras and the Edges of the Humane”

The Conversations in Science Series brings together UW-Madison researchers and Dane County teachers in order to foster significant connections. Now in its 10th year, the Series is designed to provide personal enrichment to teachers in a wide range of areas related to science, technology and society, and to enable researchers and educators to share their expertise with the Dane County community.


My present research is on the ways in which physical and biological transplantation (the transfer of material from one organism to another) demonstrates that the current imaginary of transplantation has not merely a mythological but also a colonial history. In this current project, I extend my work on the way in which colonial botanical transplants remade the Caribbean and relayed to radically alter the metropolis, work which I began in my book Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (2005). The early modern relocation and (cross)breeding of human bodies, animals, and plants effects contemporary discourses and practices of transplantation and the present use of the name "chimera" to designate transplant subjects. Current representations of transplantation are deeply imbricated with colonial taxonomies of race, gender, and sex, with colonial hierarchies of what is "human" and what counts as "culture," and with early modern practices of what Michel Foucault called "biopower" (particularly, the production of power through efforts to control reproduction in all its forms). Exploring this history helps to recast concerns about the new forms of biological power and the seemingly monstrous possibilities for cross-species hybridization and transformation.


Jill H. Casid is Associate Professor of Visual Culture Studies in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did her undergraduate work in cultural studies and art history at Princeton, her master’s degree in art history at the Courtauld and Warburg Institutes of the University of London, and her doctorate in art history at Harvard. As a historian, a theorist of visual culture, and a practicing artist in photo-based media, her work explores the productive tensions between theory, the problems of the archive and the writing of history, issues of gender, race and sexuality, and the performative and processual aspects of visual objects and imaging. Her research in visual studies and in vision and aesthetics includes her book Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (2005) and her forthcoming book Shadows of Enlightenment—both with the University of Minnesota Press. She has just begun a new book project, “The Volatile Image: Other Histories of Photography,” that reconsiders photography as a complex and unstable medium. She is also doing work on the chimera and issues of hybridity and transformation. Her interest in pursuing the implications of “trans” for the study of visual culture extends to the international visual culture conference on the theme of “trans” which she co-organized (at University of Wisconsin-Madison in October 2006), the video exhibition she guest curated for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (2006), and the anthology she is planning on "Visual Transculture." In addition to creating a new curriculum in visual culture studies and contributing to the development of curatorial and museum studies, she also directs the new Visual Culture Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


I would like to suggest the first chapter of my first book "Sowing Empire."

Also, the introduction to Donna Haraway's "When Species Meet."
(The introduction link above will take you to Google book reader, where you can navigate to the introduction.)


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