Luisa Reis Castro
Luísa Reis-Castro is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology. Reis-Castro’s research broadly explores the social, cultural, political, and historical dimensions of scientific knowledge about human-animal relations, particularly when harm to humans is involved, as seen with mosquitoes transmitting pathogens. Her first project investigates techno-scientific projects in Brazil that, rather than fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, work to harness the insect to tackle the viruses it is known to transmit (Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever). By using ethnographic and historical research methods, she explores what these projects can tell us about the geopolitics of knowledge production in an interdependent, unequal world increasingly affected by human activity.
- M.A. European Studies on Society, Science and Technology (ESST), Maastricht University
- M.S. Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), Maastricht University
- Ph.D. History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, & Society (HASTS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- B.Sc. Social Sciences (Anthropology, Sociology, and Political Science), Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Anthropology of Science, Health, and the Environment; Science and Technology Studies; Latin America/Brazil; Multispecies Ethnography; History of Science
Detailed Statement of Research Interests
Reis-Castro’s book manuscript, The World Will Become Brazil: Ecologies, Epidemics, and the Reinvention of Mosquito Science, argues that mosquitoes and their enrollment in various scientific and health campaigns can be understood as materializing a racialized politics of the Brazilian nation. Findings are based on multi-methods research, including two years of multi-sited fieldwork in Brazil with research groups that, rather than fight against the Aedes aegypti, work to harness the mosquito to tackle the pathogens it is known to transmit (Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever). Since the ongoing planetary climate transformations have enabled the Aedes aegypti to expand its geographical range, Brazil-based research is regarded as particularly relevant because the country is seen as a harbinger of future epidemics still to come. Therefore, The World Will Become Brazil traces the politics and significance of the reshaping of Brazilian ecologies in the reinvention of mosquito science. This 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.
Reis-Castro’s interdisciplinary scholarship has received multiple awards. Her dissertation won Best Dissertation in the Social Sciences – Honorable Mention from the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association, and different chapters received awards from the American Anthropological Association (from the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology and the special interest group Critical Anthropology for Global Health, Society for Medical Anthropology), the British Society for the History of Science, and the History of Science Society (Forum for the History of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences).
Her article “Becoming Without: Making Transgenic Mosquitoes and Disease Control in Brazil,” published in Environmental Humanities, was awarded the 2020 Rappaport Student Paper Award from the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association; the 2021 Jane Goodall Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Scholarship from the Animals and Society Section of American Sociological Association; and the 2022 Sérgio Buarque de Holanda Prize for Best Article in the Social Sciences from the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association.
Contracts and Grants Awarded
- Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, (The Wenner-Gren Foundation), Luísa Reis-Castro $9,445, 2018-2019
- Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, (National Science Foundation (NSF)), Luísa Reis-Castro $6,220, 2018-2019
- Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, (Social Science Research Council (SSRC)), Luísa Reis-Castro $15,800, 2018-2019
- Lopes, G., Reis Castro, L. (2019). A Vector in the (Re)Making: A History of Aedes aegypti as Mosquitoes that Transmit Diseases in Brazil. Framing Animals as Epidemic Villains pp. 147-175. Palgrave. Request the chapter here
- Reis-Castro, L. (2017). The Underworlds Project and the ‘Collective Microbiome’: Mining biovalue from sewage. Bioeconomies pp. 105-128. Palgrave. Request the chapter here
- Reis-Castro, L. (2021). Becoming Without: Making Transgenic Mosquitoes and Disease Control in Brazil. Environmental Humanities. Vol. 13 (2), pp. 323-347.
- Reis Castro, L. (2020). Uma Antropologia da Transmissão: Mosquitos, Mulheres e a Epidemia de Zika no Brasil. Ilha Revista de Antropologia. Vol. 22 (2), pp. 21-63. Article (in Portuguese)
- Speculative Fiction Film , World Without Clouds (2020) – speculative fiction film that considers anthropological themes for the future (with Steven Gonzalez, Julianne Yip, Jia Hui Lee, and Gabrielle Robbins), 2020-2021
- 2021 Graduate Student Essay Award – Forum for the History of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, History of Science Society, 2021-2022
- 2021 Jane Goodall Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Scholarship – Animals and Society Section, American Sociological Association, 2021-2022
- 2021 Roseberry-Nash Graduate Student Paper Award – Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, 2021-2022
- 2021 Rudolf Virchow Award, Graduate Award Category – Special interest group Critical Anthropology for Global Health, Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, 2021-2022
- 2022 Best Article in the Social Sciences – Brazil Section, Latin American Studies Association, 2021-2022
- 2022 Best Dissertation in the Social Sciences – Honorable Mention, Brazil Section, Latin American Studies Association, 2021-2022
- 2022 BSHS Singer Prize – The British Society for the History of Science, 2021-2022
- 2020 Early Career Scholar Award (third prize), World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine, 2020-2021
- 2020 Rappaport Student Paper Award, Anthropology and Environment Society, American Anthropological Association, 2020-2021
- 2020-2021 STS Siegel Teaching Prize, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2020-2021