3501 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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"What not to wear: a man(ikin) in a suit & other fashion faux pas from the archives of thermal physiology"

Bharat Venkat, 2023-24 Berggruen Fellow, Associate Professor, Institute for Society & Genetics, Department of History, Department of Anthropology, Univeristy of California, Los Angeles

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How did the comfort of a man in a suit become the standard for climate control, not only in the United States but across the world? The answer can be found in the work of a range of scientists and engineers in the first half of the 20th century. This talk will focus on the Harvard Fatigue Lab, a microcosm for the climatic extremes of the world that allowed for experiments that continue to shape how we air condition our homes and workplaces, what we wear (and what we don’t), and who gets to experience thermal comfort amidst the inequitable microclimates of the modern world.

Dr. Bharat Jayram Venkat is an associate professor at UCLA’s Institute for Society & Genetics with joint appointments in the Departments of History and Anthropology. His first book, At the Limits of Cure (Duke University Press, 2021), was the winner of the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences. His current work focuses on the experience of thermal inequality in contemporary India and the United States, as well as the history of studying heat and its effects over the long twentieth century. This research has been funded by the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship, the UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship in the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award. Dr. Venkat is also the director of the UCLA Heat Lab, and currently, a fellow at the Berggruen Institute.


A longer bio can be found here.

This event is co-sponsored by the USC Dornsife Center on Science, Technology, and Public Life, USC Dornsife Department of Anthropology, the USC Keck Narrative Medicine Program, and the Consortium for the Social and Ethical Dimensions of Medicine.

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