Hannah Landecker


Contact Information

Email    landecker@soc.ucla.edu
Office  268 Haines Hall
Phone  310-825-1517
My work takes place at the intersection of the life and social sciences.

The social and historical study of biotechnology and life science, from 1900 to now, is my area of specialization. I am currently writing a book called "American Metabolism," which looks at transformations to the metabolic sciences wrought by the rise of epigenetics, microbiomics, cell signaling and hormone biology.  A related project concerns the history of metabolic hormones after 1960 and the rise of the cellular "signal" as a central category of thought and practice in the life sciences.  I am the Director of the Institute for Society and Genetics, an interdisciplinary teaching and research unit in Life Science which houses the Human Biology and Society major ; and I help direct the UCLA EpiCenter, a research node for issues of Epigenetics, Reproduction and Society. 



Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000

B.Sc. (Honours) University of British Columbia, 1993


American Council for Learned Societies Fellowship, 2012.

Suzanne J. Levinson Book Prize, History of Science Society, 2008 (for Culturing Life). 

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2005. 

Rice University Graduate Student Teaching and Mentoring Award, 2005.


"From Messenger to Signal:  Metabolic Hormones and the Rise of the Signal Concept in Life Sciences Research," National Science Foundation, 2012-2014.

"21st Century Cuisine, Nutrition and Genetics in France and the United States," Partner University Fund, 2009-2012.

Selected Publications


Culturing Life: How Cells Became Technologies, Harvard University Press, 2007 

Articles and Book Chapters:

"Metabolism, Autonomy, Individuality," 225-248 in What is an Individual? Where Philosophy, History and Biology Coincide, L. Nyhardt & S. Lidgard eds.,Chicago University Press, 2017.

"The Social as Signal in the Body of Chromatin," The Sociological Review Monographs 64(1):79-99, 2016.

"It is what it eats: Chemically defined media and the history of surrounds." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 2016.

"Sociology in an Age of Genomic Instability: Copy Number Variation, Somatic Mosaicism, and the Fallen Genome," (with Martine Lappé), Advances in Medical Sociology Volume 16: Genetics, Health and Society, pp.157-186, 2015. (Selected as Outstanding Author Contribution in the 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence).

"Commentary: The Information of Conformation," International Journal of Epidemiology, Advance Online Publication April 7, 2015.  doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv022.

"How the Genome got a Life Span," (with Martine Lappé), New Genetics and Society 34(2):152-176, 2015.

"Antibiotic Resistance and the Biology of History," Body and Society 22(4):19-52, 2016 [open access publication available here]

"From Social Structure to Gene Regulation, And Back: A Critical Introduction to Environmental Epigenetics for Sociology," (with Aaron Panofsky), Annual Review of Sociology 39:333-357, 2013.

"Metabolism, Reproduction, and the Aftermath of Categories," Feminist & Scholar Online 11(3): Summer 2013.  

"When the Control Becomes the Experiment," Limn 3: Sentinel Devices, 2013.  here.

"Post-Industrial Metabolism: Fat Knowledge," Public Culture 25(3):495-522, 2013.

"The Metabolism of Philosophy, in Three Parts," 193-224 in Dialectic and Paradox: Configurations of the Third in Modernity, B. Malkmus and I. Cooper, eds., Bern: Peter Lang, 2013.

"The Life of Movement: From Microcinematography to Live Cell Imaging," Journal of Visual Culture 11(3):378-399, 2012.

"Food as Exposure: Nutritional Epigenetics and the New Metabolism," BioSocieties 6:167-194, 2011. [open access publication here]

"Creeping, Dying, Drinking: The Cinematic Portal and the Microscopic World of the Twentieth Century Cell," Science in Context24(3):381-416, 2011.

"Seeing Things: From Microcinematography to Live Cell Imaging," Nature Methods 6:707-709, 2009. 

"Technical Matters: method, knowledge and infrastructure in twentieth century life science," (with Angela N.H. Creager) Nature Methods 6:701-705, 2009. here.

“Living Differently in Time: Plasticity, Temporality and Cellular Biotechnologies,” in Technologized Images, Technologized Bodies: Anthropological Approaches to a New Politics of Vision, Jeanette Edwards, Penny Harvey and Peter Wade, eds. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010. [online version]

“Microcinematography and the History of Science and Film,” Isis, 97:121-132, 2006. 

“Cellular Features: Microcinematography and Early Film Theory,” Critical Inquiry 31:903-937, 2005. 

“A Theory of Animation: Cells, L-Systems, and Film,” (with Christopher Kelty), Grey Room, 17:30-63, 2004. 

“The Lewis Films: Tissue Culture and ‘Living Anatomy’, 1919-1940,” 117-144 in Centennial History of the Carnegie Institute Department of Embryology, Jane Maienschein, Marie Glitz and Garland Allan (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2004. 

“Building ‘A New Type of Body in Which to Grow a Cell’: The Origins of Tissue Culture,” 151-174 in Creating a Tradition of Biomedical Research: Contributions to the History of The Rockefeller University, Darwin Stapleton (ed.), New York: Rockefeller University Press, 2004. 

“On Beginning and Ending with Apoptosis: Cell Death and Biomedicine,” in Remaking Life and Death: Towards an Anthropology of the Life Sciences, edited by Sarah Franklin and Margaret Lock, School of American Research Press, 2003. 

“New Times for Biology: Nerve Cultures and the Advent of Cellular Life in Vitro,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 33:667-694, 2002. 

“Immortality, In Vitro: A History of the HeLa Cell Line,” in Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, Anxieties, Ethics, edited by Paul Brodwin, Theories of Contemporary Culture series, Indiana University Press, 2000. Reprinted in A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical Trajectories, Emergent Realities, Byron Good, Michael Fischer, Sarah Willen, Mary-Jo Delvecchio-Good (eds.), pp. 353-366, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

“Between Beneficence and Chattel: The Human Biological in Law and Science,” Science in Context 12(1): 203-225, 1999. Reprinted in Law and Science, Volume II: Epistemological, Evidentiary, and Relational Engagements, International Library of Essays in Law and Society, Susan Silbey, ed., Ashgate Publishing, 2008, pp. 181-204.