Experiments in Skin: Race and Beauty in the Shadows of Vietnam (Duke University Press, 2021) examines the afterlife of the Vietnam War, and its continued impact on our understanding of race and beauty. Framing skin as the site around which these ideas have been formed, materially and metaphorically, the book considers the work of wartime scientists in the U.S. Military Dermatology Research Program, who attempted to alleviate the environmental and chemical risks to soldiers’ bodies, while helping to shore up the widespread use of these same chemicals, alongside the labors of women in contemporary Vietnam, who continue to struggle to remediate war’s biochemical effects. By foregrounding the histories of US militarism, biomedical investigations, chemical warfare, consumer culture and the bodies of U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers, prisoners, and civilians who have been the subjects of research and remediation, Experiments in Skin advances a transpacific theory of aesthetics and politics critical to our understanding of colonial modernity and the lives lived in its shadows.
Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU (presenter)
Matthew Farish, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Undergraduate, Department of Geography and Planning, U of T (panelist)
Edward Jones-Imhotep, Associate Professor and Director, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, U of T (panelist)
Elizabeth Wijaya, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Studies, Graduate Faculty, Cinema Studies Institute and Director, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, U of T (panelist)
Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the Asian Institute