Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Associate Professor, Gender Studies

Director of Graduate Studies, Gender Studies

  • (812) 856-4289
  • Lindley Hall 330F
  • Office Hours
    M onday
    3:20 PM – 3:50 PM
    W ednesday
    3:20 PM – 3:50 PM


  • Ph.D., Women’s Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 2012
  • J.D., University of Cincinnati, 2000
  • M.A., Women’s Studies, University of Cincinnati, 2000
  • B.A., Government and Economics, Georgetown University, 1995


Dr. Foster’s research broadly focuses on the co-constituted relationships of law and science, and how such interactions historically structure and reinforce certain bodies, identities, knowledges, and practices over others. She draws upon her expertise in science and technology studies, feminist and critical race legal theory, transnational/post-colonial feminisms, feminist research methodologies, and intellectual property law as well as her legal practice experience in both human rights and corporate law in the U.S. and in Southern Africa.

Professor Foster is currently completing a manuscript that examines how a patented plant found in Southern Africa historically circulates and changes meaning through colonial botanical sciences, patent law rules, ethno-pharmaceutical research, contractual benefit sharing, and sustainable fair trade practices. This research produces ethnographic understandings of how the plant and Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and identity are co-produced through narratives of indigeneity, race, and gender, while novel modes of unequal citizenship are emerging within post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Grant.

She has also recently begun a qualitative study on the emergence of genomic research within South Africa. In particular, this study asks how genetic ancestry testing in South Africa functions, in both powerful and limited ways, as an anti-racist discourse embedded in post-colonial and post-apartheid histories, while producing new configurations of kinship, relatedness, and law.

Dr. Foster is also actively engaged in the Tarrytown Meetings Network, a group of experts working to ensure that emerging biotechnologies are advancing social justice and human rights.