MIT21A_355Js09_assn04_sw1B

MIT21A_355Js09_assn04_sw1B - MIT OpenCourseWare...

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MIT OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu 21A.355J / STS.060J The Anthropology of Biology Spring 2009 For information about citing these materials or our Terms of Use, visit: http://ocw.mit.edu/terms .
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STS.060 The Anthropology of Biology Prof. Helmreich Life and Nature in the Market of Biology Michel Foucault describes utilization of political systems for reinforcing discipline of the biological body as well as regulation of reproduction. Paul Rabinow generalizes Foucault's analysis to the case where human control over biology has reached the point where social orders increasingly evolve around a constantly renewed manipulation and understanding of biological systems. These systems develop in an environment that is conducive to the adaption of biological policies to a market structure. The social structures as described in Taussig, Petryna, and Nguyen have employed biopower in a way that appropriates notions of life, nature, and evolution into a market economy where an individual body becomes a unit of capitalism as well as a unit of the evolutionary narrative. In her work “Biological Citizenship,” Adriana Petryna discusses the politics of identity crafted in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. In the decade following the explosion of a nuclear reactor facility, the government of the Ukraine implemented an arcane system of compensation for various levels of assessed risk due to the radiation. The process of classifying individuals along ill- defined scientific lines lead to the emergence of “new categories of entitlement” marked by the imprecise boundaries of scientific unknowability (Petryna 251). Among these classifications was the “sufferer,” or any individual whose physiology had been subject to enough radiation that their lives or livelihoods could (within the rather arbitrary bounds were adapted from animal studies) be significantly diminished. Though there is nothing novel about the conception of the body as a unit or tool for labor, this group of “sufferers” is an early example of modern biology informing such a constructed division. In
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enacting this system of classification, the Ukrainian state has established itself as an authority over the natural. The state therefore grants itself an artificial empirical privilege in assessing life and nature. By bringing the substance of the natural world into the purview of government regulation, the Ukraine has reshaped nature into something measurable, calculated, and known. Deviations from the natural, though still subject to stigma, become quantifiable measures by which to enact social justice. Prior to the emergence of natural selection, nature acted in the capacity of a stage upon which organisms acted out their lives. The theory of natural selection gave nature an omnipotent role, an actor in its own right that acted upon the genes that then became the subject in the evolutionary story. The emergence of this biopolitical structure in the Ukraine and the resultant biosocial shift has once again altered nature's role
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course ARCH 4.401 taught by Professor Utemetabauer during the Fall '06 term at MIT.

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MIT21A_355Js09_assn04_sw1B - MIT OpenCourseWare...

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