Lochlann Jain is an award-winning scholar and artist. Jain’s work in the medical anthropology and the history of medicine and law has investigated how scientific research questions are framed and what factors are excluded. Jain is the author of three books. Most recently, a book of drawings, Things that Art (University of Toronto Press, 2019), reconsiders and interrupts the ways in which categories underpin knowledge systems and also aims to realize drawing as a useful and provocative method in the social sciences.
Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us (UC Press: 2013) examines the ways in which institutions such as law, medicine, and the media have established ways of understanding, justifying, and carefully managing the social understanding of cancer. At every vector, this requires negotiating both the uncertainty about what cancer is and how it spreads as well as how our environments produce it in ways we neither understand not carefully investigate. While uncertainty is often understood as a simple gap in knowledge, Malignant reads across the histories of oncology, economics, literature, and law, as well the histories of a series of carcinogens including tobacco, nuclear bomb tests, and plastics, to better understand how uncertainty has emerged as a major player in debates about cancer causation. By tracing the contested concepts of cancer that lie at the core of debates over cause, treatment, responsibility, and national progress, Malignant aims to show why cancer remains such an intractable medical, social, and economic problem that takes millions of lives as it both costs, and generates, billions of dollars. Malignant won multiple awards in medical anthropology, medical journalism, and science and technology studies.
Injury (Princeton UP: 2006), analyzed the twentieth century emergence of tort law in the United States as a highly politicized and problematic form of regulating the design of mass-produced commodities in light of their propensity to injure naïve consumers. The book analyzes the history of the way in which product design has encoded assumptions and biases that have impacted how injuries are distributed and subsequently understood in law.
Jain is Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University and a Visiting Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’ College London
Jain’s work has been praised as “a remarkable achievement,” (TLS), “a whip-smart read.” (Discover Magazine), “brilliant and disturbing,” (Nature Magazine), and having “the phenomenological nuance of James Joyce.” Jain has won numerous prizes for work in anthropology and medical journalism, including the Staley Prize, June Roth Memorial Award, Fleck Prize, Edelstein Prize, Victor Turner Prize, and the Diana Forsythe Prize. The work has been supported by Stanford Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and the National Humanities Center.