Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Anthropology
Jennifer Hamilton, assistant professor of legal studies and anthropology, received her B.A. in anthropology and English literature (McGill University) and her Ph.D. in anthropology (Rice University).
Her interests include social studies of law, science, and biomedicine, theories of culture and identity, and critical race and gender studies.
She is the author of Indigeneity in the Courtroom: Law, Culture, and the Production of Difference in North American Courts. Her most recent research examines human genetic variation research and the sociocultural, legal, and ethical formations which emerge around it.
Using primary and secondary materials as well as documentaries and feature films, this course explores conceptualizations and representations of race and sex in various domains of scientific thought. We begin by looking at the histories of race and sex in Western science. We will examine gendered and racialized pathologies, such as hysteria and drapetomania, and consider how scientific thought intersected with larger political and economic movements. We will then move into a discussion of the uses of race and sex in the contemporary life sciences. Why is the pharmaceutical industry developing drugs geared toward different racial groups? How have advances in reproductive technologies challenged or reinforced our understandings of our bodies? Why and how is sexuality a key site of scientific debate? Finally, how has the genomic age reshaped (or reinforced) our understandings of race, sex, and sexuality?
This course introduces Division II students to ethnographic methods through the specific study of the powerful institutions of law, science, and medicine. Through the critical reading and analysis of ethnographic texts, students will learn about the substantive areas of political and legal anthropology, science studies, and critical medical anthropology. Students will also build a methodological toolkit for investigating complex social problems in the areas of law, science, and medicine. Specific topics of investigation include human rights and humanitarian interventions; organ transplantation and the exchange of biological materials; global pharmaceuticals; and multispecies ethnography. The course will culminate in final mini-ethnographic research projects designed by students. Enrollment limited to 15 Division II students.
This course is an exploration of the complex and shifting relationships between law and non-human entities. How does law reflect, reinforce or challenge key categorical distinctions such as nature/culture, human/non-human, subject/object, and living/non-living? Through examination of a range of theoretical perspectives and specific case studies, we will focus on the epistemological underpinnings of law, especially in the Anglo-American legal tradition, and the enduring question of law's anthropocentrism. Specific areas of inquiry include legal perspectives on non-human animals, "Mother Nature," corporations, embryos, trans-species hybrids, and artificial intelligence.
This course introduces students to cultural anthropology, the study of human cultures and societies. In particular, students will explore cultural anthropology's themes, concepts, and methodologies, beginning with the discipline's emergence in the United States in the early 20th century and moving into 21st century anthropological inquiries. The course will be organized around a series of basic questions: How do anthropologists ask questions? How do they conduct research? How do they make sense of the world around them? What does anthropology have to offer a world with often vexing social and political problems? What are anthropology's limitations and constraints? What might a publically engaged anthropology look like, especially in an era of globalization? We will investigate these questions by exploring anthropological work in specific areas including new media; food and culture; law and human rights; and the cultures of science, technology, and biomedicine. Students will also learn basic skills in library research, critical reading and writing, and project design.
How and under what circumstances are non-human animals considered persons before the law? Using perspectives from anthropology, science studies, and legal studies, this course explores the shifting status of non-human animals in Anglo-American legal tradition. While our main focus will be the understanding and treatment of non-human animals in the contemporary United States, we will also examine these issues from historical and cross-cultural perspectives. Of particular interest is how scientific knowledge comes to bear on these kinds of legal questions. This course has no prerequisites, but students should expect a heavy reading load and weekly written assignments. All students interested in the moral, political and legal status of animals are welcome.
Do you own your body and who has the right to profit from your genetic materials? Does testing for genetic diseases on embryos before implantation constitute eugenics? Should one company own a patent on a genetic test for breast cancer? These questions, among others, provide the basis for an exploration of the emergence and growth of bioethics in the context of genetic research. Using perspectives from legal studies, ethics, anthropology, and the social studies of science, this course takes as its starting point the investigation of the close relationships and continuing tensions that have developed between the fields of genetics and bioethics, especially during the past two decades.
Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Anthropology
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall SS
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002