Luísa Reis Castro
2021–2023 Postdoctoral Fellow, Anthropology
PhD in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Luísa Reis-Castro is a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Society of Fellows in the Humanities. She earned her Ph.D. in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Drawing on her interdisciplinary training, Reis-Castro examines relations between health, science, and the environment in an interdependent, unequal world ever more affected by human activity.
Her project, Vectors of Health: Epidemic Futures, Racialized Ecologies, and the Reinvention of Mosquito Science in Brazil, investigates how different national ideologies of belonging are intertwined with modes of knowledge and power that shape relations between humans, mosquitoes, and microbes. Her findings are based on two years of multi-sited fieldwork in Brazil with different research groups attempting to use the Aedes aegypti mosquito as a means of controlling the pathogens it is known to transmit (Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever). This research reveals how these bio-technoscientific projects aimed to transform the Aedes aegypti into a newly engineered or enlisted tool to control the very pathogenic viruses these insects can transmit. Even further, Reis Castro argues that her interlocutors themselves became “vectors of health,” who reconfigured practices, materials, and knowledges to articulate different scales of action and develop a response to mosquito-borne diseases.
Reis-Castro’s research was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, as well as the MIT Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability and the MIT Center for International Studies. Her scholarship has also received awards from the American Anthropological Association (Anthropology and Environment Section), the American Sociological Association (Animals and Society Section), and the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine.