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Professor Jain's research is primarily concerned with the ways in which stories get told about injuries, how they are thought to be caused, and how that matters. Figuring out the political and social significance of these stories has led to the study of law, product design, medical error, and histories of engineering, regulation, corporations, and advertising.

Jain’s most recent book, Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us (2013) aims to better understand American life and culture through cancer. Using a combination of history, memoir, and cultural analysis, Malignant explores why cancer remains so confounding, despite the billions of dollars spent in search of a cure.

Her widely reviewed book, Injury, (2006) explores the distinct ways that products, such as cars and cigarettes, come to be understood as dangerous. Often the so-called inherent dangers of a product vary according to historical ideas about danger, responsibility, and fault.

Her other research interests include extra-legal forms of communications, such as warning signs and medical apologies; queer studies; art and design.

Jain was awarded the Cultural Horizons Prize by the Society for Cultural Anthropology for "Best Article published in the journal Cultural Anthropology" in 2004. She has been a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Key works

Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us. University California Press, 2013.

"The Mortality Effect: Counting the Dead," Public Culture, vol. 21, 2010.

"Be Prepared" in Jonathan Metzl and Anna Kirkland (eds.) Against Health, New York University Press, 2010.
  • Injury: Design and Litigation in the United States, Princeton University Press, 2006

"Urban Violence: Luxury in Made Space," in Mobile Technologies of the Future, Mimi Sheller and John Urry (eds.), Taylor and Francis, 2005

" Public Culture, vol. 15(3), 2003. (Reprinted in Beyond the Frame, Angela Davis and Neferti Tadiar (eds.), Pergamon Press, 2006.)

Prof. Jain in the News


  • Medical Anthropology
  • Design and Safety Law
  • Cancer Science and Technology
  • Culture of Cancer
  • Injury Law
  • Urban Violence
  • Queer Studies
  • Race and Gender in Medicine
  • History of Medical Product Design
  • Politics of Health

Contact information


PhD, University of Santa Cruz (1999)
BA, McGill University