Remaking Life & Death: Toward an Anthropology of the Biosciences


The boundaries of life now occupy a place of central concern among biological anthropologists. Because of the centrality of the modern biological definition of life to Euro-American medicine and anthropology, the definition of life itself and its contestation exemplify competing uses of knowledge. On the one hand, “life” and “death” may be redefined as partial or contingent (“brain death”), or reconstituted altogether (“virtual” or “artificial life”). On the other hand, the finality and “reality” of death resists such classifications. This volume reflects a growing international concern about issues such as organ transplantation, new reproductive and genetic technologies and embryo research, and the necessity of cross-cultural comparison. The political economy of body parts, organ and tissue “harvesting,” bio-prospecting, and the patenting of life-forms are explored herein, as well as governance and regulation in cloning, organ transplantation, tissue engineering, and artificial life systems procedures.

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