Antrittsvorlesung by Prof. Rentetzi: The Gender of Nuclear Things: Godofredo and Françoise Travel Around the World

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The Antritsvorlesung will take place on the 25. May 2023 at the Orangerie Erlangen. For more informations about the event, please open the program attached below.


From spring 1962 to the end of 1965, Godofredo Gómez Crespo, a Spanish physicist employed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, travelled the world carrying Françoise in a box-like suitcase that also included a number of standard vessels of various sizes and shapes, containing amounts of mock radioiodine. Françoise was a dummy figure of the upper part of the female human body used for calibrating radiation detectors in laboratories around the world. Gómez Crespo’s task was to check the precision of radioiodine uptake tests for quality assurance in in-vivo measurements in several hospital laboratories across the globe. At the time, thyroid uptake tests constituted one of the first diagnostic applications of radioactive tracers, a cutting-edge technique in nuclear medicine. Was there any scientific reason for simulating the “standard” human torso by means of a female shop-like mannequin with perky breasts? In short, why was this scientific instrument gendered? Using Françoise as an example, I question the gendering of nuclear things and start unravelling the complex, gendered, and thus power relations that shaped the nuclear order.

Click here to download the full program.