"Malignant: How Cancer becomes us" - Lochlann Jain speaks on her book


Dr. Lochlann Jain

Department of Anthropology

Stanford University

Jointly sponsored by the: 

SASH Programme and the Division of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, and 

the Cancer Research Initiative Seminar Series, UCT Faculty of Health Sciences.

Refreshments will be provided



Dr. Jain’s research is primarily concerned with the ways in which stories get told about injuries, from car crashes to lung cancer, from mountain climbing deaths to space shuttle explosions. Figuring out the political and social significance of these stories has led her to the study of medicine, law, product design, medical error, and histories of engineering, regulation, corporations, and advertising. 

 Jain’s book, Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us (University of California Press, 2013), aims to better understand American life and culture through cancer. Nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed in their lifetimes with an invasive cancer -- an all-too common component of American life. Through a  combination of history, memoir, and cultural analysis, Malignant explores why cancer remains so confounding, despite the billions of dollars spent in the search for a cure. 


Dr. Jain will also reflect on her recent participation in the conference on ‘Medical Humanities in Africa” (http://www.medhumanities2014.co.za) and the ways in which her work speaks to developing conversations in the South African and African context about the place of the social sciences and humanities in clinical and public health practice, training and research.  

Reviews of “Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us” 

a whip-smart read about a disease that involves billions of dollars and millions of lives.”  Discover, November, 2013.


“In this trenchant mix of science history, memoir and cultural analysis, Jain is thoughtful and often darkly humorous on everything from cancer statistics to treatments, trials and issues around sexuality. Brilliant and disturbing.” Nature, Oct. 10, 2013.


"From the minute you start reading the first pages of this book, to the moment (hours later) when you arrive at its last pages, Lochlann Jain manages to grip you and hold you captive.  The writing is marvelous, of course, and the scholarship is incredible -- but you aren't prepared for the disarming humor, or the delicate dissection of the psyche that Jain somehow achieves in these pages.  I could not stop reading this book. In the end, found myself enriched and wiser for it. Siddhartha Mukherjee, author ofEmperor of All Maladies.


Malignant is a beneficent book, a tough gift for all of us. I—we—need this scholarly, angry, intimate, objective, smart, moving book that teaches us how to endure and even maybe thrive in the ‘rubble.’  Donna Haraway, author of Simians, Cyborgs, and Women.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 -
16:00 to 17:30

Postgraduate Room 1
Barnard Fuller
UCT Health Sciences Campus

Contact Information: 

Please email Marion Bloch to RSVP and for directions and any questions.