Franklin is Professor of Social Studies of Biomedicine in the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics, and has previously held positions at the University of Manchester, Lancaster University, NYU, and the UC-Santa Cruz. Franklin holda an MA in Women's Studies from the University of Kent (1984), an MA in Anthropology from New York University (1986) and a PhD from Birmingham University's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (1992).
Franklin is an American anthropologist working across the fields of sex and gender theory, feminist issues, stem cell research, reproductives and genetic technology and medicine; her fieldwork includes the areas of IVF, cloning, embryos and stem cells. According to Wikipedia:
"[Franklin's] work combines both ethnographic methods and kinship theory, with more recent approaches from science studies, gender and cultural studies. In 2001 she was appointed to a Personal Chair in the Anthropology of Science, the first of its kind in the UK, and a field she has helped to create. [...] She is one of the first anthropologists to undertake ethnographic research on new reproductive technologies."
Dolly Mixtures: The Remaking of Genealogy Edit
In Dolly Mixtures, Franklin attempts to re-route the traditional conversations surrounding Dolly the cloned sheep (questions of human futurity, the fate of cloning, the ethics of IVF, etc.) by suggesting that we must look backward before we can ask questions about moving forward: "such questions are not so much beyond as before the crude ethical dilemma Dolly is seen to pose about the limits and possibilities of the redesign of life itself" (14).
Franklin's analysis of Dolly is based in history and anthropology, but maintains a quasi-scientific understanding of genealogy. Franklin's work functions like a collection of lost social ancestors (Sex, Capital, Nation, Colony, Death), and here bares some resemblance to a Foucauldian archaeology insofar as she looks back prior to Dolly's emergence as a discursive, socio-political, and biological entity. These efforts, however, do not try to stabilize Dolly into some essence or knowable fact, but rather "tries to situate her emergence as part of the history of agricultural innovation and its close connections to the life sciences--in particular reproductive biomedicine" (1). Continuing, Franklin urges that Dolly is a "novel realignment of the biological, cultural, political and economic relations that connect humans, animals, technologies, markets, and knowledges--needs to be situated in a world historical frame" (3). Thus, Franklin's method saddles scientific understandings of sex alongside English national capital, British colonialism, and the anxieties Dolly provokes regarding the sustainability of organic life. Sheep have been some of man's earliest animal companions, and Franklin's anthro-historical analysis tries to extricate the significance of this human-animal coupling.
Significantly, Franklin does not pull an actor-network analysis or try to insist, as many might in a post-Latour perspective, that the sheep and we are equally situated agents; Franklin is moreso interested, I would argue, in examining how the sheep has been a device for regulating various forms of power, organization and control (be the the power of scientific definitions of reproduction, the break up of aboriginal life in the Australian outback, or the re-arrangement of English resources and products related to the wool and meat industry). Sheep are things we use, that we bring with us, but that we also enable to constitute our own social relations. Franklin suggests that she has willingly dispensed with the methods of folks like Latour and Mol, prefering to stick to fairly theory-light (and not heavily post-structuralist) encounters with notions of mixture and genealogy.