Visit from Professor Hannah Landecker

UCLA Professor Hannah Landecker is visiting TIK. She will give a seminar at TIK before participating in an event at Litteraturhuset the following day.

Hannah Landecker. Photo: UCLA

On the 30th October, Hannah Landecker will present a paper on "The Food of our Food: Medicated Feed and the Industrialization of Metabolism" at TIK, from 4.00pm to 

On 31st October, she will also take part in the event on "Responsible Research in the Life Science" organised by the Forum for Vitenskapsteori at Oslo Litteraturhuset, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. The program of the event can be found here.

About the talk

The paper recounts the history of medicated feed for agricultural animals in the twentieth century United States.  While there has been some appreciation of the addition of antibiotics and hormones to feed as growth promoters, given worries about these as adulterations of the end-product that is milk and meat for human consumption, the systematic remaking of animal feed since the turn of the twentieth century has gone underappreciated.  This paper traces the science of the “animal as converter,” with metabolism and feed efficiency as work objects in the effort to make more with less. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fungal enzymes, short chain fatty acids, arsenical medicines, anti-oxidants, and many other substances are part of this story, many of which were also then used in human food fortification and engineering.  As a result of the focus on feed efficiency in the science-industrial effort to promote growth, what we know about many of these elements is confined to how they affect growth, a positive knowledge that has obscured the many other questions one might ask about how these nutritional components affect animals, microbiota, environments, and humans.  This paper argues that a more systematic history of agricultural feeding points not toward the industrialization of discrete foodstuffs or activities (cows, farming), but toward the industrialization of metabolism.  In this history one can see how the metabolic inter-conversions of different bodies were rearticulated in the name of feed efficiency, establishing new flows of matter and energy through microbes, animals, plants and humans.

About the speaker

Hannah Landecker is Director at Institute for Society and Genetics at UCLA. Landecker uses the tools of history and social science to study contemporary developments in the life sciences, and their historical taproots in the twentieth century.  She has taught and researched in the fields of history of science, anthropology and sociology.  At UCLA she is cross-appointed between the Institute for Society and Genetics, and the Sociology Department.


Published Oct. 29, 2018 2:06 PM - Last modified Nov. 7, 2018 3:34 PM