Laura Foster is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Affiliate Faculty in African Studies and Law at Indiana University and a Senior Researcher at the IP Unit, University of Cape Town. Her research explores questions of power and inequality at the nexus of law, science, technology, and the nonhuman. In particular, she is interested in relationships of technoscience, governance, gender, race, indigeneity, plants, health, and justice within histories of South Africa and Appalachia. Her innovative interdisciplinary research contributes to conversations in feminist science and technology studies (STS), critical plant studies, socio-legal studies, Indigenous and Native studies, African studies, critical intellectual property studies, and feminist data studies.
In her first book, Reinventing Hoodia: Peoples, Plants, and Patents in South Africa (2017), Foster develops and models a feminist decolonial technoscience approach to the study of law, science, and markets. In her current ethnographic book project, Vegetal Feminisms: Human-Plant Ecologies, Smart Farming, and the Governing of Artificial Intelligence in South Africa, Foster examines the ecologies of smart farming technologies, farm workers, fruit trees, grape vines, and the governing of artificial intelligence (AI) as a site for simultaneously understanding a changing South African politics and for considering how the vegetal subject offers a more meaningful model for queer, feminist thought and politics. Her research has also been published in several journals including Science Technology & Human Values; PoLaR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review; Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies; and International Journal of Cultural Property; and Columbia Journal of Gender and law.