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Laura Foster

Laura FosterAssistant Professor of Gender Studies

Send Email | (812) 855-6977 | Memorial Hall 129


Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, University of California - Los Angeles, 2012
J.D., University of Cincinnati, 2000
M.A. in Women’s Studies, University of Cincinnati, 2000
B.A. in Government and Economics, Georgetown University, 1995


G105 – Sex, Gender, and the Body
G235 – Scientific Understandings of Sex and Gender
G402 – Gender, Race, Disability in Science
G490 – Gender, Race, Sexuality and the Law
G601 – Scientific Practices & Feminist Knowledge
G702 – Researching Gender Issues


Dr. Foster’s research broadly focuses on the co-constituted relationships of law and science, and how such interactions historically structure and reinforce certain bodies, identities, knowledges, and practices over others. She draws upon her expertise in science and technology studies, feminist and critical race legal theory, transnational/post-colonial feminisms, feminist research methodologies, and intellectual property law as well as her legal practice experience in both human rights and corporate law in the U.S. and in Southern Africa.

Professor Foster is currently completing a manuscript that examines how a patented plant found in Southern Africa historically circulates and changes meaning through colonial botanical sciences, patent law rules, ethno-pharmaceutical research, contractual benefit sharing, and sustainable fair trade practices. This research produces ethnographic understandings of how the plant and Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and identity are co-produced through narratives of indigeneity, race, and gender, while novel modes of unequal citizenship are emerging within post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Grant.

She has also recently begun a qualitative study on the emergence of genomic research within South Africa. In particular, this study asks how genetic ancestry testing in South Africa functions, in both powerful and limited ways, as an anti-racist discourse embedded in post-colonial and post-apartheid histories, while producing new configurations of kinship, relatedness, and law.

Dr. Foster is also actively engaged in the Tarrytown Meetings Network, a group of experts working to ensure that emerging biotechnologies are advancing social justice and human rights



Foster, Laura. Re-inventing Hoodia: Patent Ownership, Benefit Sharing, and the Making of Difference in South Africa (under contract - University of Washington Press - Feminist Technosciences Series)


Foster, Laura A. 2016. "The Making and Unmaking of Patent Ownership: Technicalities, Materialities, and Subjectivities." (forthcoming PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review)

Foster, Laura A. 2016. "Decolonizing Patent Law: Postcolonial Technoscience and Indigenous Knowledge in South Africa." (forthcoming Feminist Formations)

Foster, Laura A. 2014. "Critical Cultural Translation: A Socio-Legal Framework for Regulatory Orders." Special Invited Issue on Regulatory Translations. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 21:1: 79-105.

Foster, Laura A. 2012. "Patents, Biopolitics, and Feminisms: Locating Patent Law Struggles Over Breast Cancer Genes and the Hoodia Plant." Special Invited Issue on Patent Law and Property. International Journal of Cultural Property 19(3): 371-400.

Foster, Laura A. 2011. "Situating Feminisms, Patent Law, and the Public Domain," Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 20(1): 261- 347.