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Biology Unmoored is an engaging examination of what it means to live in a world that is not structured in terms of biological thinking. Drawing upon three years of ethnographic research in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sandra Bamford describes a world in which physiological reproduction is not perceived to ground human kinship or human beings' relationship to the organic world. Bamford also exposes the ways in which Western ideas about relatedness do depend on a notion of physiological reproduction. Her innovative analysis includes a discussion of the advent of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), the mapping of the human genome, cloning, the commodification of biodiversity, and the manufacture and sale of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Conceptual Frameworks
1. Cultural Landscapes
2. Insubstantial Identities
3. Embodiments of Detachment
4. (Im)Mortal Undertakings
5. Conceiving Global Identities
Conclusion: Conceptual Displacements
Sandra Bamford is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She is the editor of Embodying Modernity and Postmodernity: Ritual, Praxis and Social Change in Melanesia, and coeditor of Genealogy—Beyond Kinship: Sequence, Transmission and Essence in Ethnography and Social Theory.
"Bamford dares to venture into new terrains. In considering the way in which the social and natural sciences co-figure one another, she lays firm ground for investigating some of the implications of the way Euro-Americans model the world through their biological understandings of life. Biology Unmoored is a huge leap forward."—Marilyn Strathern, author of Kinship, Law, and the Unexpected: Relatives Are Always a Surprise
"A startling and riveting work. Bamford’s analysis raises our awareness of the implicit assumptions about biological relatedness that have underpinned much of the theory in the social sciences: in kinship studies, in studies of human-environmental relations, and in natural science assumptions about the boundaries between species."—Shirley Lindenbaum, coeditor of Knowledge, Power, and Practice: The Anthropology of Medicine and Everyday Life