Lab Animals, Cruel Optimism, and the Politics of Death
This essays analyses Lab Animal, a trade magazine, which markets the production and acquisition of animal bodies for research and experiments. Through an analysis of advertisement images, research photos, and editorial content, the chapter argues that the journal integrates, rather than obscures, the tensions between stylized pictures of animals and the bloody work of surgery and experimentation. Lab Animal therefore functions as a performative space which interpellates animals and researchers as biocitizens in the mutual enterprise of the biomedical laboratory—the search for the “cure.” However, because a laboratory functions within the logic of cruel optimism, biocitizenship is therefore based not in politics of hope, but rather in politics of death, or necropolitics. By examining how non-human animals are constituted as biocitizens within the conditions of cruel optimism and necropolitics, we can extend the argument to human animals, or to those who strive to be a part of the search for the “cure.”
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