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Within Cold Blood: Freezers, Biological Anthropology, and the Remaking of Human Nature

Thursday Lecture Series, Animation

dateFebruary 28, 2013 timeThursday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Columbia University

The International Biological Program (IBP) was a mid-20th century effort to take stock of the biosphere. With new access to industrial technologies of cold storage, certain IBP-affiliated scientists endeavored to collect and freeze blood from members of human populations depicted as primitive and endangered. Professor Radin examined three episodes in the trajectory of these preserved tissues: the circumstances of their collection in the field, their decades-long suspended animation in freezers, and their contemporary re-animation in the genomic laboratory. In doing so, she demonstrated how what has been understood as being “within” cold blood reflects a historically-specific choreography of bodies (human and otherwise), technologies, and attitudes about life itself.