Prof. Lesley Sharp, Barnard's Ann Whitney Olin Professor in Anthropology, is the co-editor of a new volume entitled Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability, published by the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, NM. The book consists of a series of essays that focus nationally and globally on biosecurity measures - specifically in the post-9/11 era - at the expense of human life and general well-being. Sharp's own essay within focuses on the moral parameters and potential dangers of undetected zoonoses in contexts framed by experimental medical science intent on perfecting cross-species transplants between non-human primates or pigs and humans. This collection of research chapters is the result of a week-long seminar hosted by SAR through a highly competitive program that typically accepts only two applications per year. SAR is home to a range of programs that encourage advanced scholarship in anthropology and Native American arts.
A medical anthropologist by training, Prof. Sharp is most concerned with critical analyses of the symbolics of the human body, where her research sites range from cosmopolitan medical centers within the United States to urban centers in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1986 until 1995, her work as an Africanist was based in a polycultural plantation community of northwest Madagascar, work that generated two book length studies. Her initial field research addressed spirit mediumship and the gendered nature of healing. She later returned to the same site in the mid 1990s to examine other forms of affliction, most notably the effects of the state's short-lived socialist project in shaping the historical and political consciousness of Malagasy school youth. In the early 1990s she shifted her research focus to human organ transfer--involving organ donation, procurement, and transplantation--in the US and, subsequently on the highly experimental realms of xenotransplantation and bioengineering in five Anglophone countries. She is the author of three books on these Interrelated transplant topics, the most recent of which is The Transplant Imaginary: Mechanical Parts, Animal Parts, and Moral Thinking in Highly Experimental Science (California, 2013). Sharp is the recipient of four separate teaching awards, two of which were bestowed on her by Barnard, and a book award for her first transplant work.