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BiocitizenshipThe Politics of Bodies, Governance, and Power$
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Kelly E. Happe, Jenell Johnson, and Marina Levina

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479845194

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479845194.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 04 December 2021

Epigenetics and the Biocitizen

Epigenetics and the Biocitizen

Body Temporality and Political Agency in the Postgenomic Age

(p.70) 3 Epigenetics and the Biocitizen

Kelly E. Happe

NYU Press

Epigenetics, it is claimed, has opened the door to considering the ways that human bodies undergo environmentally-induced change and more radical still, how those changes can be inherited. Researchers are especially interested in whether epigenetics can explain how physical and social environments influence health outcomes, including those understood to be racially based. The turn to epigenetics as a more compelling, actionable type of evidence of racism over and against what is produced by other health sciences rests on a number of assumptions about the body—including its temporality and embodied becoming—thereby necessitating an elaboration of what we mean by the “bio” of biocitizenship. This chapter argues that epigenetics’ method for constituting evidence and translating it into action enacts a biologistic and deterministic racialism, one animated by a materialism more likely to sabotage than enable biocitizenship and its claims for redress.

Keywords:   Epigenetics, Health disparities, Historical materialism, Affect

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