Anna Kirkland
Professor and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Political Science, University of Michigan

The vaccine court is a small special court in the Court of Federal Claims that handles controversial claims that a vaccine has harmed someone. In this court, lawyers, activists, judges, doctors, and scientists come together, sometimes arguing bitterly, trying to figure out whether a vaccine really caused a person’s medical problem. In this talk, Ms. Kirkland presents findings from her new book on the vaccine court. She focuses on the core question of her research, namely, how do we come to recognize vaccine injuries? She argues that our political and legal response to vaccine injury claims shows how legal institutions can handle specialized scientific matters.

Speaker Bio:

Anna Kirkland, J.D., Ph.D., is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Political Science, and Associate Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Fat Rights: Dilemmas of Difference and Personhood (New York University Press, 2008) and co-editor with Jonathan Metzl of Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality (New York University Press, 2010). In her new book, Vaccine Court: The Law and Politics of Injury (New York University Press, 2016), Kirkland explores how activists and government actors come to know, identify, and compensate for vaccine injuries, and what recent debates over vaccine safety reveal about democratic engagement with volatile scientific questions in the contemporary United States. Recent articles include also “Power and Persuasion in the Vaccine Debates: An Analysis of Political Efforts and Outcomes in the States, 1998-2012,” “Credibility Battles in the Autism Litigation,” “The Legitimacy of Vaccine Critics: What’s Left after Autism?,” and “The Environmental Account of Obesity: A Case for Feminist Skepticism.” Kirkland recently received a National Science Foundation grant to study the organizational handling of rights claims against sex discrimination in health care settings under the Affordable Care Act.

Recorded May 2, 2017

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

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