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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

The Citizens of Incubators

The Citizens of Incubators

Vessels of Care and Control

(p.255) 12 The Citizens of Incubators

Oron Catts

Ionat Zurr

NYU Press

Neolife are technologically created and fragmented life forms that have been manipulated by humans and cannot survive without artificial life support. This essay focuses our attention on one of the main vessels of neolife - the incubator. In recent years, especially as a result of the human genome project and through the field of synthetic biology, there is a shift to obscure the incubator as a surrogate vessel and render it neutral, thereby obscuring how, throughout history, what life is chosen or forced to be put in an incubator reflects on human wants and desires. Neolife can be seen as the entanglement of life with its surrogate apparatus, echoing interests of human-centric control, which affect and effect the larger milieu. By focusing on the incubator as such, we question the very idea of biocitizenship, focused as it is on human life, on intact, whole bodies, and on the distinction between environment and biology. Furthermore, the incubator has, throughout its history, served to reproduce and recuperate the very ideologies of race and gender upon which normative biocitizenship depends, despite the fact that developments in biotechnology and the design of neolife may offer the illusion of a “new citizenship” that breaks free from hegemonic human social constructions of species, gender, race, and class.

Keywords:   Neolife, Incubator, Laboratory, Bioart

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