Photographed by Spencer Lowell

Hannah Landecker


Life Sciences Building 3313

Image © Spencer Lowell

2000  Ph.D.,  Science and Technology Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1993   B.Sc.,  Cell and Developmental Biology, University of British Columbia

Hannah 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.  She is currently working on 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.

Landecker’s work focuses on the social and historical study of biotechnology and life science, from 1900 to now.  She is interested in the intersections of biology and technology, with a particular focus on cells, and the in vitro conditions of life in research settings.


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

American Metabolism, in preparation, under contract with Harvard University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Landecker, H. “Life as Aftermath: Social Theory for an Age of Anthropogenic Biology,” Science, Technology and Human Values, in press 2024.

Landecker, H., “The Underlying Condition as Disease Ecology: Covid-19 and the Anthropogenic Body of Infection,” in S. Opitz, A. Wiegeshoff, and C. Mezes, eds., Ecologies of Disease Control: Spaces of Health Security in Historical Perspective, Pittsburgh University Press, forthcoming 2025.

Landecker, H. and A. T. Clark, “Human Embryo Models Made from Pluripotent Stem Cells are not Synthetic. They Aren’t Embryos, Either,” Cell Stem Cell 30:1290-1293, 2023.

Landecker, H., “The Food of our Food: Medicated Feed and the Industrialization of Metabolism,” 56-85 in H. Paxson, ed., Eating Beside Ourselves: Thresholds of Food and Bodies, Duke University Press, 2023.

Campbell-Staton, S.C., R.H. Walker, S.A. Rogers, J. De Léon, H. Landecker, W. Porter, P.D. Matthewson, R.A. Long, “Physiological Costs of Undocumented Human Migration Across the Southern United States Border,” Science 374(6574): 1496-1500, 2021.

Neubauer, C. and H. Landecker, “Ten Percent of Human Cellular Methionine is Synthetic in Origin: Implications of Opening the Tap on a Historically Limiting Nutrient,” Lancet Planetary Health 5(8):E560-E569, 2021.

Landecker, H., “Trace Amounts at Scale: Arsenicals, Medicated Feed, and the ‘Western Diet’,” 187-213 in A.N.H. Creager and J.P. Gaudillière eds, Risk at the Table: Food Production, Health, and the Environment, Berghahn Press, 2021.

Le Goff, A., P. Allard, and H. Landecker, “Heritable Changeability: Epimutation and the Legacy of Negative Definition in Epigenetic Concepts,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 86:35-46, 2021.

Bazzi, W., A. Abou Fayad, A. Nassar, L.P. Harouri, V.K. Nguyen, O. Dewachi, G. Abu Sitta, H.Landecker, A. Abbara, C.W. Knapp, M. McEvoy, M. Zaman, P.G. Higgins, G. Matar, “Resistance to heavy metals in Acinetobacter baumannii may be increased in conflict settings,” Frontiers in Microbiology 11: article 68; 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00068, 2020.

Khan, A., O. Plana-Ripoll, S. Antonsen, J. Brandt, C. Geels, H. Landecker, P. Sullivan, C. Bøcker Pedersen, A. Rzhetsky, “Environmental pollution is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders in US and Denmark,” PLOS Biology. Aug 20;17(8):e3000353, 2019.

Landecker, H., “A Metabolic History of Manufacturing Waste: Food Commodities and Their Outsides,” Food, Culture and Society 22(5):530-547, 2019.

Lappé, M., R. Jeffries Hein, H. Landecker, “Environmental Politics of Reproduction,” Annual Review of Anthropology 48:133-150, 2019.Landecker, H., “Antimicrobials Before Antibiotics: War, Peace, and Disinfectants,” Palgrave Communications 5:45, 2019.

Kelty, C., H. Landecker, “Outside In: Microbiomes, Epigenomes, Visceral Sensing, and Metabolic Ethics,” pp. 53-65 in After Practice: Thinking through Matter(s) and Meaning Relationally, edited by The Laboratory for the Anthropology of the Environment and Human Relations, Berlin: Panama Verlag, 2019.

Landecker, H., “On the Odor of Rancid Butter, A Twenty-First Century Update,” History of Anthropology Newsletter 43, 2019: (Special Focus: Canguilhem’s Milieu Today).  Reprinted in Electric Brine, J. Teets ed., Archive Books, 2021.

Landecker, H., “The Matter of Practice in the Historiography of the Experimental Life Sciences,” 1-22 in M. Dietrich and M. Borrello, eds. Handbook of the Historiography of Biology, Springer, 2018.

Landecker, H., “Metabolism, Autonomy, Individuality,” 225-248 in L. Nyhardt and S. Lidgard, eds. Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical and Historical Perspectives, Chicago University Press, 2017.

Landecker, H., “Antibiotic Resistance and the Biology of History,” Body and Society 22(4):19-52, 2016.

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

Landecker, H., “It is What it Eats: Chemically Defined Media and the History of Surrounds,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57:148-160, 2016 (special issue on Instruments and Media in Biological Sciences, edited by J. Steigerwald).

Lappé, M., H. Landecker, “Sociology in a Time of Genomic Instability: Copy Number Variation, Somatic Mosaicism, and the Fallen Genome,” Advances in Medical Sociology, Volume 16:157-186, 2015. (Outstanding Author Contribution, 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence).

Lappé, M., H. Landecker, “How the Genome Got a Life Span,” New Genetics and Society 34(2):152-176, 2015.

Landecker, H., “Post Industrial Metabolism: Fat Knowledge,” Public Culture 25(3):495-522, 2013.

Landecker, H., “Metabolism, Reproduction, and the Aftermath of Categories,” The Scholar & Feminist Online 11(3): Summer 2013.

Landecker, H., “When the Control Becomes the Experiment,” Limn 3:Sentinel Devices, 2013.

Panofsky, A., H. Landecker, “From Social Structure to Gene Regulation, And Back: A Critical Guide to Environmental Epigenetics For Sociology,” Annual Review of Sociology 39:333-357, 2013.

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

Landecker, H., “The Life of Movement:  From Microcinematography to Live Cell Imaging,” Journal of Visual Culture 11(3):378-399, 2012. (translated as “Das (Eigen)Leben der Bewegung: Von der Mikrokinematografie zum live-cell imaging,” in P. Rathgeber and S. Leysen, eds. Bilder animierter Bewegung / Images of Animate Movement, Fink Verlag, 2013)

Landecker, H., “Creeping, Drinking, Dying:  The Cinematic Portal and the Microscopic World of The Twentieth Century Cell,” Science in Context 24(3):381-416, 2011.

Landecker, H., “Food as Exposure:  Nutritional Epigenetics and the New Metabolism,” BioSocieties, 6:167-194, 2011.  Translated as “Essen als Exposition.  Epigenetik der Ernährung und die Molekularisierung der Umwelt,” [Food as Exposure:  Nutritional Epigenetics and the Molecularization of the Environment, S. Bauer (trans.)] 135-162 in S. Bauer, C. Bischof, S. Haufe, S. Beck, L. Scholze-Irrlitz (eds.), Essen in Europa. Kulturelle ‘Rückstände’ in Nahrung und Körper. transcript Verlag: Bielefeld, 2010.

Kelty, C., H. Landecker, “Ten Thousand Journal Articles Later:  Ethnography of ‘The Literature’ in Science,” Empiria 18: 173-191, 2010.

Landecker, H., “Living Differently in Time:  Plasticity, Temporality and Cellular Biotechnologies,” 211-236 in Technologized Images, Technologized Bodies:  Anthropological Approaches to a New Politics of Vision, J. Edwards, P. Harvey and P. Wade, eds. New York:  Berghahn Books, 2010.

Landecker, H., “Seeing Things: From Microcinematography to Live Cell Imaging,” Nature Methods 6:707-709, 2009.

Landecker, H., Angela N.H. Creager, “Technical Matters: Method, Knowledge and Infrastructure in Twentieth Century Life Science,” Nature Methods 6:701-705, 2009.

Landecker, H., “Die Erzählungen der Biotechnologie: Biowissenschaften und biographische Form,” [“Biotechnology’s Plots:  Biomedicine and Biographical Form,”] 183-200 in Engineering Life:  Narrationen vom Menschen in Biomedizin, Kultur und Literatur, Claudia Breger, Irmela Krüger-Fürhoff and Tanja Nusser, eds.  Berlin:  Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2008.

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

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

Kelty, C., H. Landecker, “A Theory of Animation:  Cells, L-Systems, and Film,” Grey Room, 17:30-63, 2004. (translated as “Eine Theorie der Animation: Zellen, L-Systeme und Film,” in Lebendige Zeit: Wissenkulturen im Werden, Henning Schmidgen (ed.), Berlin: Kadmos, 2005.)

Landecker, H., “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.

Landecker, H., “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.

Landecker, H., “On Beginning and Ending with Apoptosis:  Cell Death and Biomedicine,” 23-60 in Remaking Life and Death:  Towards an Anthropology of the Life Sciences, Sarah Franklin and Margaret Lock (eds.), School of American Research Press, 2003.

Landecker, H., “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.  Translated as “Neue Zeiten für die Biologie: Nervenkulturen und die Geburt zellulären Lebens in vitro,” 307-337 in Kultur im Experiment, H. Schmidgen, P. Geimer and S. Dierig (eds.). Berlin: Kadmos, 2004.

Kelty, C., H. Landecker, “Cellular Features: Immortality, Apoptosis, Apostrophe,” in Future Bodies:  Zur Visualisierung von Körpern in Science und Fiction, edited by M. Angerer, K. Peters, and Z. Sofoulis, Springer, 2002.

Landecker, H., “Immortality, In Vitro:  A History of the HeLa Cell Line,” 53-72 in Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, Anxieties, Ethics, Paul Brodwin (ed.), Indianapolis: 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.

Landecker, H., “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: Regulation of Property, Practices, and Products, Susan Silbey (ed.), Austin Sarat (series ed.), Ashgate Publishing, 2008.

Landecker, H., D. Sinclair, H. Brock, “Screen for Enhancers of Polycomb and Polycomblike in Drosophila Melanogaster,” Developmental Genetics 15:425-434, 1994.

Editorials, Commentaries, Interviews, Popular Articles/Art Catalogs

Landecker, H. “Deranged Ecologies,” Tumbling Ecologies: Algae, Bacteria, Fungi, ed. Mel Chen, Anicka Yi Studio, forthcoming 2024.

Landecker, H. “Enzyme Power,” Current History 122(847): 283-288, 2023.

Gierstorfer, C., an interview with Hannah Landecker, “‘The Early Bird Gets the Profit’ Comes Home to Roost” Köpfe und Ideen 17, June 2022.

Young, B. “Multiple Metabolisms: From Global Capitalism to Daily Digestion, an Interview With Hannah Landecker,” Mold Magazine, April 19, 2021.

Landecker, H. “Order and Disorder in our Anthropogenic Innards,” in Shape Shifters, Exhibition Catalog for Pakui Hardware, Günther-Peill Stiftung, 2021.

Landecker, H. “Hyphal Tunnels,” Foreword to Matsutake Worlds, ed. L. Faier & M. Hathaway, Berghahn Press, 2021.

Landecker, H. “Voracious Biomass,” 39-44 in Vanessa Billy: We Become/Redevenir, Pasquart Kunsthaus Centre d’Art, Verlag für Moderne Kunst 2021.

Landecker, H.  “Eating as Dialogue, Food as Technology,” Noema Magazine, June 18, 2020.

Landecker, H. Foreword to Salmon: A Red Herring, by Cooking Sections, Isolarii Press, 2020.

D’Abramo, F., H. Landecker, “Anthropocene in the Cell,” Technosphere Magazine, March 20, 2019.

Landecker, H., “Foreword,” 1-3 in Giamila Fantuzzi, Body Messages: The Quest for the Proteins of Cellular Communication, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.

Landecker, H., “Being and Eating: Losing grip on the equation,” BioSocieties 10(2):253-258, 2015.

Landecker, H., “What’s In the Dish? A Commentary on Franklin’s In Vitro Anthropos,” Cambridge Anthropology 31(1):33-37, 2013.

Landecker, H., “The Information of Conformation: Commentary on Jablonka and Lamb’s ‘The Inheritance of Acquired Epigenetic Variation (1989)” International Journal of Epidemiology 44(4):117-1108, 2015.

Landecker, H., Andrea Núnez Casal, “Antibiotics, Resistant Bacteria and the Human Effect. An Interview with Hannah Landecker,” Theory, Culture and Society, March 16, 2015.

Biltekoff, C., Mudry, J., Kimura, A., Landecker, H. and Guthman, J. “Interrogating Moral and Quantification Discourses in Nutritional Knowledge,” Gastronomica 14(3): 17-26, 2014.

Guthman, J., Broad, G., Klein, K., Landecker, H. “Beyond the Sovereign Body,” Gastronomica 14(3): 46-55, 2014

Landecker, H. “Biomicroscopy of the Living Eye,” and “Strabismus Exercises in Wartime,” in M. Sappol, ed. Hidden Treasure: 175 Years of the National Library of Medicine, New York: Blast Books, 2012.

Landecker, H. “Food as Exposure: Nutritional Epigenetics and the Molecular Politics of Eating,” Center for the Study of Women Update Newsletter, May, 18-26, 2010.

Landecker, H. “Die Körpermedelle der Epigenetik: Das innere Laboratorium und die molekulare Leitung,” A. von Schwerin (trans.), Gen-ethischer Informationsdienst 8:42-54, 2008.

Creative Work

“News About Cells, 1909-1964,” with Christopher Kelty.  Film (7 minutes), finalist in the Bioclips Cinema of the Cell competition, screened at the European Life Sciences Organization meeting in Dresden, September 23, 2003.

UCLA Department of Sociology
Curriculum Vitae
Article: Food as exposure: Nutritional epigenetics and the new metabolism