Michelle Murphy

Wilson Hall, New College, Room 2039
416- 978-8964


Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
School of Environment

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Environmental history, History of Science, Critical and Cultural Theory.


Michelle Murphy is Professor of History and Women and Gender Studies. She is a historian of the recent past and feminist technoscience studies scholar who researches and theorizes about the politics of technoscience and infrastructures; sexed and raced life; environmental politics and chemical exposures; biopolitics; as well as economics, capitalism and finacialization particularly in contemporary, cold war, and postcolonial conjunctures associated with the United States, Canada, and more recently Bangladesh. She is co-organizer with Natasha Myers of Technoscience Salon and Director of the Technoscience Research Unit. She has graduate appointments at the Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, as well as the School of Environment. In addition, she has graduate appointments in Science and Technology Studies and the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.  Professor Murphy has a PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University (1998)   

Her forthcoming book, titled The Economization of Life (Duke University Press) explores the rise of techniques that differentially value life based on its ability to foster the macroeconomy. It does so by historizing the techniques and epistemologies for governing aggregate forms of life, particularly “population” together with “economy.” The book focuses on the transnational history of US and Bangladeshi circuits of demography, economics, public health, and population science as it was articulated through cold war/imperial, nationalist, and feminist projects concerned with Bangladesh. This book hopes to expand the ways we theorize and understand the entanglements between reproduction, experiment, and economy in the late 20th century. Prof. Murphy is also the author of Seizing the Means of Reproduction: Entanglements of Feminism, Health, and Technoscience (Duke University Press, 2012), which takes US radical feminist attempts to craft alternative health techniques in feminist clinics the 1970s and 1980s as an entry point into critically mapping entanglements between the recent histories of feminism, American empire, population control, and neoliberalism.

She is also the author of Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers (Duke University Press, 2006), winner of the Ludwik Fleck Prize (2008) from the Society for Social Studies of Science, which explores the materiality and politics of low level chemical exposures in built environments.   

Professor Murphy is currently working on two related projects, The first, Alterlife in the Ongoing Aftermaths of Industrial Chemicals, is a SSHRC-funded project that examines the history and future of transgenerational environmental violence caused by industrially produced chemicals in the low Great Lakes. The second project, Distributed Reproduction, seeks to theorize an alternative ontology and scale for reproduction that exceeds individual embodiment and instead encompasses temporally and geographically extensive configurations of sex, living-being, technoscience, environmental politics, and political economy.   

Authored Publications:


PhD, Harvard University