Enacting Conservation and Biomedicine: Cloning Animals of Endangered Species in the Borderlands of the United States
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Enacting Conservation and Biomedicine: Cloning Animals of Endangered Species in the Borderlands of the United States

  • Author(s): Friese, Carrie Elizabeth
  • Advisor(s): Clarke, Adele E.
  • et al.
Abstract

Since the birth of Dolly the sheep and in the context of the potential to create regenerative medicines using somatic cell nuclear transfer, over the past decade "cloning" has re-emerged as a "social problem" and more specifically an "ethical" problem. Somatic cell nuclear transfer has been configured as a technique for copying individuals, endangering the purportedly "natural" nuclear family and deterministically creating situations wherein excessive social control will be enacted and human life will be commodified. Drawing on both science and technology studies and symbolic interactionism, I contend that somatic cell nuclear transfer is not inherently meaningful, but rather becomes meaningful in and through its practice. I use qualitative field methods to enter some of the worlds wherein this technique has traveled and to consider the situated productivities of somatic cell nuclear transfer in action. In doing so, I reorient attention away from the theoretical practice of "human" cloning to the real, widespread, and understudied endeavors of cloning animals, focusing specifically on projects to clone animals of endangered species.

As somatic cell nuclear transfer has traveled, I contend that the technique has created relations across varying arenas, bodies, logics and systems of value. In other words, Dolly has been productive of new kinds of "assemblages". Such assemblages are likely to be constitutive of humans in the future precisely because most developments in biomedicine are first worked out by "modeling" with animal bodies and politics. I position cloning assemblages as modes of modeling bio-social-political-economic-ethical configurations for worlds premised upon transforming bodies and bodily relations for the purpose of enhancement in the operations of both conservation and biomedicine.

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