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Bits of Life

Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology

edited by Anneke Smelik and Nina Lykke

Publication Year: 2008

Since World War II, the biological and technological have been fusing and merging in new ways, resulting in the loss of a clear distinction between the two. This entanglement of biology with technology isn't new, but the pervasiveness of that integration is staggering, as is the speed at which the two have been merging in recent decades. As this process permeates more of everyday life, the urgent necessity arises to rethink both biology and technology. Indeed, the human body can no longer be regarded either as a bounded entity or as a naturally given and distinct part of an unquestioned whole.

Published by: University of Washington Press



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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii

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Bits of Life: An Introduction

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pp. ix-xix

The title Bits of Life invokes a figuration that signifies today's cultural fusion of the biological and the technological. It also points to the current proliferation of different discourses on "life," indicating that there are many "bits" of life that we need to think through. This is a daunting...

Part 1: Histories and Genealogies

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1. Feminist Cultural Studies of Technoscience: Portrait of an Implosion

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pp. 3-15

This chapter gives an introductory overview of feminist cultural studies of technoscience, the hybrid and interdisciplinary field that makes up a shared frame of reference for the contributions to this book.1 I present here some interdisciplinary key dynamics of the field, to make things easier for readers...

2. Roots and Routes: The Making of Feminist Cultural Studies of Technoscience

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pp. 16-31

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3. 'There Are Always More Things Going On Than You Thought!': Methodologies as Thinking Technologies: Interview with Donna Haraway

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pp. 32-41

Donna Haraway is a professor in the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her theories have been central to the unfolding of cyborg feminism and to feminist cultural studies of technoscience. Major contributions to the field are her books...

Part 2: Reconfigured Bodies

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4. Fluid Ecologies: Changing Hormonal Systems of Embodied Difference

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pp. 45-60

In her introduction to Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium, Donna Haraway suggests that the late twentieth century could be described as an era of "technobiopower" rather than one of biopower (Haraway 1997: 12). In place of Foucault's (1978) nineteenth-century landscape of the administration, therapeutics, and surveillance of bodies as living organisms, Haraway describes a contemporary...

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5. Parenthood and Kinship in IVF for Humans and Animals: On Traveling Bits of Life in the Age of Genetics

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pp. 61-78

With the Human Genome Project initiative of the late 1980s, and the completion of the very first human genetic map, in 2000, genes became the traveling bits of life par excellence. They became the center of attention, intervention, and study in scientific practice...

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6. From Rambo Sperm to Egg Queens: Two Versions of Lennart Nilsson's Film on Human Reproduction

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pp. 79-93

Within the last few decades, pictures of the reproductive process of sperm meeting egg, of embryonic cell divisions, and of fetuses in various sizes and positions have become a well-established part of popular culture. No one is any longer taken by surprise to see...

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7. Screening the Gene: Hollywood Cinema and the Genetic Imaginary

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pp. 94-109

In a short article titled "Sameness Is All," the psychoanalyst and cultural critic Adam Phillips offers an account of a conceptual confusion that became evident in one of his clinical cases. He tells the story of a child who had been referred to him for school phobia, which had started a year after her younger sister was born....

Part 3: Remediated Bodies

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8. MyLifeBits: The Computer as Memory Machine

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pp. 113-128

An old friend recently admitted, with a sense of understatement, that the size of his personal digital collection had outpaced his ability to keep track of its contents. Since acquiring a digital photo camera and a scanner in 1995, he had taken, stored, and scanned well over a...

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9. Tunnel Vision: Inner, Outer, and Virtual Space in Science Fiction Films and Medical Documentaries

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pp. 129-146

Images of tunnels are abundant in both science fiction cinema and medical imagery. In science fiction cinema, the tunnel signifies something virtual and abstract: cyberspace or virtual reality. In medical imagery, on the contrary, it signifies something actual and concrete: the interior of a body. Yet both sets of...

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10. What If Frankenstein('s Monster) Was a Girl?: Reproduction and Subjectivity in the Digital Age

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pp. 147-162

Female machines are a rare species. And when they do occur—from the classic example of the false Maria in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis to the dangerously high-heeled, slick red-leather terminatrix in 2003's Terminator 3— they tend to be rather explosive incarnations of sexual danger with disastrous cultural implications. The fear of machines that become uncontrollable...

Part 4: Philosophies of Life

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11. Living in a Posthumanist Material World: Lessons from Schrödinger's Cat

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pp. 165-176

In preparing the material that eventually became this chapter, I went in search of a little book called What Is Life? (Schrödinger [1944] 1967), authored by one of the founders of quantum physics. A nagging sensation in my brain kept telling me I needed to find the book. I tried to shake off the feeling, but it wouldn't...

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12. The Politics of Life as Bios/Zoe

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pp. 177-192

We are witnessing today a proliferation of discourses that take life as a subject and not as the object of social and discursive practices. Discussion of biopolitics and biopower can be considered...


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pp. 193-207


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pp. 209-211


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pp. 212-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780295990330
E-ISBN-10: 0295990333
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295988092
Print-ISBN-10: 0295988096

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2008

In Vivo is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the medical and life sciences, with a focus on the scientific and cultural practices used to process data, model knowledge, and communicate about biomedical science. Through historical, artistic, media, social, and literary analysis, books in the series seek to understand and explain the key conceptual issues that animate and inform biomedical developments.