Jain is an award-winning author and Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University, Visiting Chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’ College London, and a Research Affiliate at VIAD, University of Johannesburg. His work aims to unsettle some of the deeply held assumptions about objectivity that underlie the history of medical research. Jain is the author of Injury (Princeton UP: 2006); Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us (UC Press: 2013); and a book of drawings, Things that Art: A Graphic Menagerie of Enchanting Curiosity (U of Toronto Press: 2019).

Jain is currently working on two books. The first, supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, develops the concept of The WetNet, which refers to fluid bonding among humans and animals in ways that create pathways for the transmission of pathogens. Specifically, mid-century bioscientific practices such as blood harvesting and transfusion, and vaccine development and testing involved exchanges in human and animal effluvia, the risks of which have largely been disavowed. Jain’s current book project elucidates the concept of The WetNet through a rigorous history of the hepatitis B virus and the development of the first hepatitis B vaccine.

The second project, “The Lung is a Bird and a Fish,” is a cultural history of drowning in prose and drawing.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor, Anthropology

Administrative Appointments

  • Professor, Stanford University, Department of Anthropology (2019 - Present)
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law (1999 - 2000)
  • Fellow, Clayman Institute for Gender Research (2012 - 2013)
  • Fellow, Stanford Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences (2011 - 2011)
  • Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities (2010 - 2010)
  • Fellow, Stanford Humanities Center (2009 - 2009)
  • Rockefeller Fellowship, National Humanities Center (2005 - 2005)
  • Fellow, Program on Urban Studies, Stanford University (2001 - 2001)
  • Fellowship, Marilyn Yalom Research (2001 - 2001)
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Killam Foundation (1999 - 1999)
  • Fellowship, History of Consciousness Board/UC Regents (1995 - 1997)
  • Graduate Fellowship, Rotary International (1990 - 1990)

Honors & Awards

  • Course Development Award, Science, Technology and Society, Stanford University (2012)
  • Course Development Award, Ethics Program, Stanford University (2006)
  • Cultural Horizons Award, Society for Cultural Anthropology (2005)
  • Course Development Award, Ethics Program, Stanford University (2002)
  • Post-doctoral Award, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1999)
  • Sir James McGill Scholarship, McGill University (1987 - 1989)
  • Faculty Scholar in Philosophy Department, McGill University (1986 - 1989)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Panel Organizer with Sharon Kaufman, International Conference of the Society for Medical Anthropology, Yale University (2009 - 2009)
  • Reviewer, Configurations
  • Reviewer, Isis
  • Reviewer, Medical Anthropology
  • Reviewer, Journal of Consumer Culture
  • Reviewer, Cultural Anthropology
  • Reviewer, American Ethnologist
  • Reviewer, PoLAR
  • Reviewer, City & Society
  • Reviewer, Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • Reviewer, Medical Anthropology Quarterly
  • Reviewer, Rutgers University Press
  • Reviewer, Duke University Press
  • Reviewer, Minnesota University Press
  • Editorial Advisory Board Member, PoLAR (2005 - 2008)
  • Editorial Advisory Board Member, Subjectivities (2008 - 2012)
  • Co-founder, Oxidate Working Group (2007)
  • Board Member, INCITE mobility project, University of Surrey (2001 - 2008)
  • Member, American Anthropological Association (1999)
  • Member, Association of American Studies (1999)
  • Member, Society for the History of Science & Technology (SHOT) (1998)
  • Member, Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) (1998)
  • Undergraduate Pre-Major Advisor, Stanford University
  • Member, Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, Stanford University
  • Member, Executive Committee on The Program for Science and Technology Studies, Stanford University
  • Member, Curriculum Committee, Stanford University

Program Affiliations

  • Program in History & Philosophy of Science
  • Science, Technology and Society

Professional Education

  • PhD, University of California at Santa Cruz (1999)
  • MPhil, University of Glasgow (1991)
  • BA, McGill University (1989)

2023-24 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Perspectives of Childhood Cancer Survivors as Young Adults: a Qualitative Study of Illness Education Resources and Unmet Information Needs. Journal of cancer education : the official journal of the American Association for Cancer Education Billman, E., Smith, S. M., Jain, S. L. 2022


    This study investigates the resources used by childhood cancer survivors (CCS) to learn about their cancer histories and evaluates if CCS feel these resources prepare them to manage their health needs as young adults. Young adult participants (aged 18-30 years) were diagnosed with cancer at ≤ 10 years and recruited by word of mouth and from social media and/or non-profit organizations and completed semi-structured interviews. A descriptive thematic analysis guided by an essentialist/realist paradigm combined inductive and deductive approaches to identify key themes. Fourteen participants were interviewed, and six key themes were identified: (1) CCS are aware of general cancer history (age at diagnosis, treating hospital, cancer type), (2) CCS are unaware of treatment regimen (medications and duration), (3) CCS want to learn more about their treatment regimens and (4) potential late effects of treatment, (5) CCS use diverse resources to learn about their cancer histories and potential late effects, and (6) survivors' interests to learn about their cancer histories change over time. Limited knowledge of their cancer treatments leaves some CCS unprepared to manage their health needs as young adults or to address potential risk of late effects. CCS recognize their limited knowledge, but the resources available to them fall short of their information needs. Identifying the shortcomings of resources used by CCS provides evidence for how resources need to be improved to meet survivors' cancer education needs.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s13187-022-02240-1

    View details for PubMedID 36456891

    View details for PubMedCentralID 3771083

  • Beyond the Cancer Wars EDINBURGH COMPANION TO THE POLITICS OF AMERICAN HEALTH Jain, S., Halliwell, M., Jones, S. A. 2022: 120-132
  • Commodity Violence The Punctum of Data VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY REVIEW Jain, S. 2020; 36 (2): 212–33

    View details for DOI 10.1111/var.12213

    View details for Web of Science ID 000599462400004

  • The WetNet: What the Oral Polio Vaccine Hypothesis Exposes about Globalized Interspecies Fluid Bonds. Medical anthropology quarterly Jain, S. L. 2020


    The author analyzes the aftermath of Edward Hooper's suggestion that the trial of an oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the Belgian colonies of Africa engendered the pandemic form of the AIDS virus, HIV-1. In response to Hooper's book, The River (1999), the Royal Society in London held a conference to debate the origins of HIV. Examination of the quick dismissal of the OPV theory opens a space for legitimately challenging the widely held belief that the vaccine contamination question was convincingly resolved. This article interrogates the relationship between historiography and the making of scientific facts and history, suggesting that historians have been too credulous of scientists' testimony. The further result of the lack of a thorough analysis of the evidence backing the OPV hypothesis has resulted in a missed opportunity to read The River as one of the few detailed accounts of the immense social, political, technological, and interspecies infrastructure constituted by Cold War vaccine production. This biomedical infrastructure dramatically changed the geographic and interspecies mobility of viruses in ways that may be impossible to reconstruct. Yet these potential transmission routes remain crucial to acknowledge. The COVID-19 pandemic draws attention to the critical importance of studying The WetNet, a concept coined by the author to name the conceptual and material infrastructures of inter- and intraspecies fluid bonding.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/maq.12587

    View details for PubMedID 32529703

  • Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us Jain, S. L. University of California Press. 2013
  • Survival Odds Mortality in Corporate Time CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Jain, S. L. 2011; 52: S45-S55

    View details for DOI 10.1086/656795

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289723000005

  • How to Do Responsibility: Apology and Medical Error Subjects of Responsibility-Framing Personhood in Modern Bureaucracies Jain, S. L. FORDHAM UNIV PRESS. 2011: 38–57
  • Introduction to Special Issue After Progress: Time and Improbable Futures in Clinic Spaces MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY QUARTERLY Jain, S. L., Kaufman, S. R. 2011; 25 (2): 183-188
  • Loss of Hope in Cancer Litigation Loyola Law Review Jain, S. L. 2011
  • Medical Time Introduction of Medical Anthropology Quarterly Jain, S. L., Kaufman, S. 2011
  • The Mortality Effect: Counting the Dead in the Cancer Trial PUBLIC CULTURE Jain, S. L. 2010; 22 (1): 89-117
  • Countering Time: The Medical Apology The Subject of Responsibility edited by Sarat, A. Fordham University Press. 2010
  • Be Prepared Against Health edited by Metzl, J., Kirkland, A. NYU Press. 2010
  • The Mortality Effect: Counting the Dead On the Government of Humanity: Environments, Technologies, Rights, and Relief edited by Feldman, I., Ticktin, M. Duke University Press. 2010
  • Surviving Terrorist Cells Academic Medicine Jain, S. L., Herzig, R. 2008
  • What's Random in the Controlled Trial? Report from meeting of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium The Source Jain, S. L. 2008
  • Cancer Butch CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Jain, S. L. 2007; 22 (4): 501-538
  • The medical malpractice myth (Book Review) LAW & SOCIETY REVIEW Book Review Authored by: Jain, S. 2007; 41 (3): 737-738
  • Living in prognosis: Toward an elegiac politics REPRESENTATIONS Lochlann Jain, S. 2007: 77-92
  • "A Value to Suffering," Review Essay of Rebecca Herzig's Suffering for Science American Studies Quarterly Jain, S. L. 2007
  • Car Safety: An Anthropological Analysis Safety Culture Jain, S. L. 2007
  • Urban Violence: Luxury in Made Space Conference on Alternative Mobility Futures Jain, S. S. ROUTLEDGE. 2006: 61–76
  • "Projectile Economies," Review of the film "Crash," Journal of Transportation History Jain, S. L., Simons, D. 2006
  • Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States Jain, S. L. Princeton University Press. 2006
  • Object Obituary: Starbucks Paper Cup and Plastic Lid Ambidextrous Jain, S. L. 2006
  • Violent submission - Gendered automobility CULTURAL CRITIQUE Jain, S. S. 2005: 186-214
  • "Come up to the kool taste": Race and the semiotics of smoking Conference on Women of Color and Visual Representations Jain, S. S. PALGRAVE. 2005: 77–104
  • Come up to the Kool Taste': African American Upward Mobility and the Semiotics of Smoking Menthols Beyond the Frame edited by Davis, A., Tadiar, N. Pergamon Press. 2005
  • Urban Violence: Luxury in Made Space Mobile Technologies of the Future edited by Sheller, M., Urry, J. Taylor and Francis. 2005
  • Entry for Technology and Gender, Race and Class The Oxford Dictionary of Science, Technology and Society Jain, S. L. Oxford University Press. 2005
  • "Dangerous instrumentality": The bystander as subject in automobility CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Jain, S. S. 2004; 19 (1): 61-94
  • The Italian Tailor's Job Girlfriends Jain, S. L. 2004
  • "Come up to the kool taste": African American upward mobility and the semiotics of smoking menthols PUBLIC CULTURE Jain, S. S. 2003; 15 (2): 295-322
  • Car cultures. (Book Review) AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST Book Review Authored by: Jain, S. S. 2002; 29 (3): 734-735
  • Urban Errands: The Means of Mobility Journal of Consumer Culture Jain, S. L. 2002; 2 (3): 385-404
  • Mysterious delicacies and ambiguous agents: Lennart Nilsson in National Geographic CONFIGURATIONS Jain, S. S. 1998; 6 (3): 373-394
  • Inscription Fantasies and Interface Erotics: Keyboards, Law, Repetitive Strain Injuries Hastings Journal of Women and Law Jain, S. L. 1998; 9 (2): 219-253
  • Prosthetic Pathology: Enabling and Disabling the Prosthesis Trope Science, Technology, and Human Values Jain, S. L. 1998; 24 (1): 31-54
  • Collecting National Geographic Magazine's Collection: Cultural Capital and the Wealth of Nations Frameworks: Communities on Display Jain, S. L. 1995
  • The Republic: A Study of a Tragic Flaw McGill Journal of Political Studies Jain, S. L. 1988; 7: 35-54