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Cornell University

Curriculum Vitae


The power of skin is at the center of heated public debates in East Africa today. Efforts to stop the current wave of attacks on people with albinism are struggling over what skin is at the beginning of this millennium. The positions staked out in public and professional debates passionately argue for, worry over, and labor towards articulations of skin that would serve efforts to protect and support people with albinism. In the process, political and therapeutic projects elaborate and solidify some notions of skin and understandings of its vitality, while they refuse, deny, or ignore others. Attending to the reactivity, volume, texture, sensation, color and temperature of skin in East Africa has become deeply contested and explicitly ethical work. Langwick is interested in how the vitality of skin has come to matter differently in healing, medicine, witchcraft, advocacy and love and how it has come to embody both political and therapeutic potential. Two questions drive this project: What conditions the powers and potentials the capacities and vulnerabilities of skin in East Africa at the turn of the millennium? How do these powers structure acts of violence and care, harming and healing? Conflicts over the power of skin in Africa demand a careful rethinking of the politics of postcolonial bodies. (Un)ethical Substances investigates the forms of knowledge and practice that shape the capacities and vulnerabilities of skin in East Africa, and that come to constitute the space of both pleas for humanity and articulations of the humane.

Stacey Langwick, MPH, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University. She is author of Bodies, Politics and African Healing: The Matter of Maladies in Tanzania (2011) and co-editor of Medicine, Mobility and Power in Global Africa (2012). Her articles and essays have appeared in American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, Science, Technology and Human Values, Medical Anthropology, and a number of edited volumes. In recent years her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren, Fulbright, the Mellon Foundation, the Cornell Society for the Humanities, the Institute for Social Sciences at Cornell and the Einaudi Center for International Studies. She is currently working on two projects. The first -- The Politics of Habitability: Plants, Sovereignties and Healing in a Toxic World -- examines the emerging herbals industry in Tanzania. She examines that ways that this new herbalism (mis)translates and (re)configures notions of medicine, property, chronicity and crisis that are fundamental to global health. The second -- (Un)ethical Substances: The Power of Skin in East Africa strives to account for the vitality and power of the body in Africa and the ways that mediating this vitality and power come to be at the heart of ethical life. At Cornell, she serves in the graduate fields for Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, and the Africana Studies and Research Center and is also an active member of the Global Health program.

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