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Anthropos Today

Reflections on Modern Equipment

Paul Rabinow

The discipline of anthropology is, at its best, characterized by turbulence, self-examination, and inventiveness. In recent decades, new thinking and practice within the field has certainly reflected this pattern, as shown for example by numerous fruitful ventures into the "politics and poetics" of anthropology. Surprisingly little attention, however, has been given to the simple insight that anthropology is composed of claims, whether tacit or explicit, about anthropos and about logos--and the myriad ways in which these two Greek nouns have been, might be, and should be, connected. Anthropos Today represents a pathbreaking effort to fill this gap.

Paul Rabinow brings together years of distinguished work in this magisterial volume that seeks to reinvigorate the human sciences. Specifically, he assembles a set of conceptual tools--"modern equipment"--to assess how intellectual work is currently conducted and how it might change.

Anthropos Today crystallizes Rabinow's previous ethnographic inquiries into the production of truth about life in the world of biotechnology and genome mapping (and his invention of new ways of practicing this pursuit), and his findings on how new practices of life, labor, and language have emerged and been institutionalized. Here, Rabinow steps back from empirical research in order to reflect on the conceptual and ethical resources available today to conduct such inquiries.

Drawing richly on Foucault and many other thinkers including Weber and Dewey, Rabinow concludes that a "contingent practice" must be developed that focuses on "events of problematization." Brilliantly synthesizing insights from American, French, and German traditions, he offers a lucid, deeply learned, original discussion of how one might best think about anthropos today.

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Born and Made

An Ethnography of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

Sarah Franklin

Are new reproductive and genetic technologies racing ahead of a society that is unable to establish limits to their use? Have the "new genetics" outpaced our ability to control their future applications? This book examines the case of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), the procedure used to prevent serious genetic disease by embryo selection, and the so-called "designer baby" method. Using detailed empirical evidence, the authors show that far from being a runaway technology, the regulation of PGD over the past fifteen years provides an example of precaution and restraint, as well as continual adaptation to changing social circumstances. Through interviews, media and policy analysis, and participant observation at two PGD centers in the United Kingdom, Born and Made provides an in-depth sociological examination of the competing moral obligations that define the experience of PGD.

Among the many novel findings of this pathbreaking ethnography of reproductive biomedicine is the prominence of uncertainty and ambivalence among PGD patients and professionals--a finding characteristic of the emerging "biosociety," in which scientific progress is inherently paradoxical and contradictory. In contrast to much of the speculative futurology that defines this field, Born and Made provides a timely and revealing case study of the on-the-ground decision-making that shapes technological assistance to human heredity.

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Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More

The Last Soviet Generation

Alexei Yurchak

Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise. Although these characteristics may appear mutually exclusive, in fact they were mutually constitutive. This book explores the paradoxes of Soviet life during the period of "late socialism" (1960s-1980s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation.

Focusing on the major transformation of the 1950s at the level of discourse, ideology, language, and ritual, Alexei Yurchak traces the emergence of multiple unanticipated meanings, communities, relations, ideals, and pursuits that this transformation subsequently enabled. His historical, anthropological, and linguistic analysis draws on rich ethnographic material from Late Socialism and the post-Soviet period.

The model of Soviet socialism that emerges provides an alternative to binary accounts that describe that system as a dichotomy of official culture and unofficial culture, the state and the people, public self and private self, truth and lie--and ignore the crucial fact that, for many Soviet citizens, the fundamental values, ideals, and realities of socialism were genuinely important, although they routinely transgressed and reinterpreted the norms and rules of the socialist state.

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Global "Body Shopping"

An Indian Labor System in the Information Technology Industry

Biao Xiang

How can America's information technology (IT) industry predict serious labor shortages while at the same time laying off tens of thousands of employees annually? The answer is the industry's flexible labor management system--a flexibility widely regarded as the modus operandi of global capitalism today. Global "Body Shopping" explores how flexibility and uncertainty in the IT labor market are constructed and sustained through concrete human actions.

Drawing on in-depth field research in southern India and in Australia, and folding an ethnography into a political economy examination, Xiang Biao offers a richly detailed analysis of the India-based global labor management practice known as "body shopping." In this practice, a group of consultants--body shops--in different countries works together to recruit IT workers. Body shops then farm out workers to clients as project-based labor; and upon a project's completion they either place the workers with a different client or "bench" them to await the next placement. Thus, labor is managed globally to serve volatile capital movement.

Underpinning this practice are unequal socioeconomic relations on multiple levels. While wealth in the New Economy is created in an increasingly abstract manner, everyday realities--stock markets in New York, benched IT workers in Sydney, dowries in Hyderabad, and women and children in Indian villages--sustain this flexibility.

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The Politics of Life Itself

Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century

Nikolas Rose

For centuries, medicine aimed to treat abnormalities. But today normality itself is open to medical modification. Equipped with a new molecular understanding of bodies and minds, and new techniques for manipulating basic life processes at the level of molecules, cells, and genes, medicine now seeks to manage human vital processes. The Politics of Life Itself offers a much-needed examination of recent developments in the life sciences and biomedicine that have led to the widespread politicization of medicine, human life, and biotechnology.

Avoiding the hype of popular science and the pessimism of most social science, Nikolas Rose analyzes contemporary molecular biopolitics, examining developments in genomics, neuroscience, pharmacology, and psychopharmacology and the ways they have affected racial politics, crime control, and psychiatry. Rose analyzes the transformation of biomedicine from the practice of healing to the government of life; the new emphasis on treating disease susceptibilities rather than disease; the shift in our understanding of the patient; the emergence of new forms of medical activism; the rise of biocapital; and the mutations in biopower. He concludes that these developments have profound consequences for who we think we are, and who we want to be.

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Race to the Finish

Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics

Jenny Reardon

In the summer of 1991, population geneticists and evolutionary biologists proposed to archive human genetic diversity by collecting the genomes of "isolated indigenous populations." Their initiative, which became known as the Human Genome Diversity Project, generated early enthusiasm from those who believed it would enable huge advances in our understanding of human evolution. However, vocal criticism soon emerged. Physical anthropologists accused Project organizers of reimporting racist categories into science. Indigenous-rights leaders saw a "Vampire Project" that sought the blood of indigenous people but not their well-being. More than a decade later, the effort is barely off the ground.

How did an initiative whose leaders included some of biology's most respected, socially conscious scientists become so stigmatized? How did these model citizen-scientists come to be viewed as potential racists, even vampires?

This book argues that the long abeyance of the Diversity Project points to larger, fundamental questions about how to understand knowledge, democracy, and racism in an age when expert claims about genomes increasingly shape the possibilities for being human. Jenny Reardon demonstrates that far from being innocent tools for fighting racism, scientific ideas and practices embed consequential social and political decisions about who can define race, racism, and democracy, and for what ends. She calls for the adoption of novel conceptual tools that do not oppose science and power, truth and racist ideologies, but rather draw into focus their mutual constitution.

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Wild Profusion

Biodiversity Conservation in an Indonesian Archipelago

Celia Lowe

Wild Profusion tells the fascinating story of biodiversity conservation in Indonesia in the decade culminating in the great fires of 1997-98--a time when the country's environment became a point of concern for social and environmental activists, scientists, and the many fishermen and farmers nationwide who suffered from degraded environments and faced accusations that they were destroying nature. Celia Lowe argues that biodiversity, in 1990s Indonesia, implied a particular convergence of nature, nation, science, and identity that made Indonesians' mapping of the concept distinct within transnational practices of nature conservation at the time.

Lowe recounts the efforts of Indonesian biologists to document the species of the Togean Islands, to "develop" Togean people, and to turn this archipelago off the coast of Sulawesi into a national park. Indonesian scientists aspired to a conservation biology that was both internationally recognizable and politically effective in the Indonesian context. Simultaneously, Lowe describes the experiences of Togean Sama people who had their own understandings of nature and nation. To place Sama and scientist into the same conceptual frame, Lowe studies Sama ideas in the context of transnational thought rather than local knowledge.

In tracking the practice of conservation biology in a postcolonial setting, Wild Profusion explores what in nature can count as important and for whom.

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