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“And Man Made Life”: Synthetic Organisms and Monstrous Imaginaries

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Abstract:

In May 2010 J. Craig Venter created synthetic life in his private biotechnological laboratory. The organism – a bacterium – had no ancestors; its genome artificially created. The achievement was lauded as the defining moment in the history of biology and The Economist published an article titled And Man Made Life. The article compared Venter’s creation to a Frankenstein’s monster – a formerly thought to be impossible life form. Released just a month after Venter’s announcement, a film Splice (2010) told a story of two scientists who - working for a private biotech company - create new monstrous creatures by splicing together multiple organisms’ DNA. Their work culminated in creation of life through splicing of human and animal DNA. The resulting monstrous child probed the new imaginaries of post human life as created by venture capital and biotechnologies. Using a critical cultural perspective, this presentation explores how these two “real” and fictional” narratives create, classify and manage new monstrous imaginaries as science becomes capable of produce and re-producing synthetic “life itself”. I argue that these new monstrous-synthetic creations help us explore the functioning of postglobal, posthuman, and postindustrial capitalist system whose objective is to manufacture “bare life”. Moreover these cultural instances explore the biocapital implications of privately created life. In keeping with the theme of the panel, I contend that media and cultural studies are invaluable tools as we examine the possibilities and the narratives of technoscientific imaginaries in creation and management of monstrous life itself.
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Association:
Name: 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions
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http://www.4sonline.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519385_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Levina, Marina. "“And Man Made Life”: Synthetic Organisms and Monstrous Imaginaries" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519385_index.html>

APA Citation:

Levina, M. "“And Man Made Life”: Synthetic Organisms and Monstrous Imaginaries" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519385_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: In May 2010 J. Craig Venter created synthetic life in his private biotechnological laboratory. The organism – a bacterium – had no ancestors; its genome artificially created. The achievement was lauded as the defining moment in the history of biology and The Economist published an article titled And Man Made Life. The article compared Venter’s creation to a Frankenstein’s monster – a formerly thought to be impossible life form. Released just a month after Venter’s announcement, a film Splice (2010) told a story of two scientists who - working for a private biotech company - create new monstrous creatures by splicing together multiple organisms’ DNA. Their work culminated in creation of life through splicing of human and animal DNA. The resulting monstrous child probed the new imaginaries of post human life as created by venture capital and biotechnologies. Using a critical cultural perspective, this presentation explores how these two “real” and fictional” narratives create, classify and manage new monstrous imaginaries as science becomes capable of produce and re-producing synthetic “life itself”. I argue that these new monstrous-synthetic creations help us explore the functioning of postglobal, posthuman, and postindustrial capitalist system whose objective is to manufacture “bare life”. Moreover these cultural instances explore the biocapital implications of privately created life. In keeping with the theme of the panel, I contend that media and cultural studies are invaluable tools as we examine the possibilities and the narratives of technoscientific imaginaries in creation and management of monstrous life itself.


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