The Diana Forsythe Prize was created in 1998 to celebrate the best book or series of published articles in the spirit of Diana Forsythe’s feminist anthropological research on work, science, and/or technology, including biomedicine. The Prize is awarded annually at the meeting of the American Anthropological Association by a committee consisting of one representative from the Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) and two from the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing (CASTAC). It is supported by the General Anthropology Division (GAD) and Bern Shen.
2017 Forsythe Prize Winner
2017 Forsythe Honorable Mention
Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil, by Emilia Sanabria, is one of the first truly anthropological accounts of sex hormones. This beautifully written ethnography takes the reader from the world of elite research to Brazilian compounding pharmacies to women’s intimate bodily experiences. Sanabria unpacks that singular and now almost mundane medical object, “the Pill” to show that hormonal contraceptives have multiple forms and lived effects. While these pharmaceuticals are prescribed with a logic of population control in Brazilian public hospitals, in private and self-care they are enlisted to reach a range of goals, from menstrual suppression to managing relationships to libido boosting (through the addition of testosterone). Challenging distinctions between intended drug effect and “side effect,” Sanabria brilliantly demonstrates how a routine medical therapy came to acquire new experimental – and often disturbing – uses. She not only reveals the gendered constructions of female biology at play in contraceptive marketing, but also portrays with great sensitivity the social worlds that shape how women experience these drugs. At a time when hormones are invoked as determinants of so much of human sexuality and behaviour, this book demonstrates the urgent need for understanding the different uses and effects these chemicals come to have in varying medical and social environments.
Nominations: Due June 1, 2018
Self-nominations are welcomed. To be eligible, books (or article series) must have been published in the last five years (copyright of 2013 or later). Nominations should be sent via email to Selection Committee Chair Alexander Edmonds at [email protected]. Publishers, please send a copy of nominated titles to each of the selection committee members listed below.
18 Buccleuch Place 3.24
Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy
Department of Art History & Communication Studies
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Department of Anthropology, MS-20
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892