A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows

Elizabeth Johnson

Department of Geography

Elizabeth Johnson received her PhD from the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral work focused on the political and social implications of “biomimicry,” an emerging field within which scientists reverse engineer biological traits for technological production. Her dissertation, entitled “Animating Futures, Reanimating Biopolitics: Animals, Technology, and Empire,” used a combination of laboratory ethnography, interviews, and archival research to analyze the political implications of a selection of biomimetic projects, including gecko-inspired adhesives, robotic lobsters, and robotic bee colonies. Revealing a complex web of biologists, engineers, military strategists, environmental activists, and corporate interests, the work explores what happens to the categories of “national security,” “labor,” and “life” when processes of technological production become heavily reliant on the embodied products of nonhuman evolution. Johnson has published articles and reviews in the journal Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization and has a co-written essay on labor and time in higher education forthcoming in Acme. At UW-Madison, she will offer courses on the geographic implications of technological and biological change as well as political ecology and environmental studies.


Fall 2011: Emergent Geographies of Techno-Biological Change