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Prenatal life — classifying and governing

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Název česky Prenatální život - klasifikace a vládnutí


Rok publikování 2014
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis The paper examines the theme of the prenatal life as the specific part of contemporary forms of biopolitics, biopower (Foucault, Arendt, Heller). This is analysed in the particular example relating to the current Czech reproductive medicine. From the standpoint of critical social theory, defining, testing and governing the prenatal life are typically biopolitical not only for its use of terminological purification, and the desire to decision of when a human being is an object of biology and when an subject with rights. Prenatal care is also an example of the biopolitical management of the population and the technology of specific treatment, definition, or shaping of the category of life itself (Foucault, Agamben, Lemke). Although current biomedicine offers sophisticated classification of prenatal life, the gradual development from the fertilized egg, stem cells, zygotes, embryo, fetus, the individual medical subdisciplines do not offer a clear borderline for when life begins as a being, as a person (Gilbert). Taking advantage in critical theory and works of Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault the paper is inspired with the concept of life as a duality of zoe and bios. Agamben and Foucault point out that today zoe is coming to the center of politics and management of the population. Foucault also develops the ideas of Hannah Arendt, who in her text The Human Condition describes the way in which homo laborans is constituted, and how biological life as such gets closer and closer to the very center of the political scene in the modern era. Michel Foucault connects with creation, description, control of the living person, population, society a certain type of power that he calls biopower or biopolitics. At the present time thanks to the technology of prenatal care, the debate over the definition of life is expanding to unborn life or to the molecular stage. The idea of life was molecularized, and postulates a vulnerable Subject, who is thrown into an unpredictable molecular world characterized by constant change, flow, and “the constant presence of risk” (Brown). The paper analyses the ART treatment, particularly prenatal testing and using of biotechnologies, as example of specific biopolitical rationality/ governmentality (Rose, Rabinow) which have emerged in current reproductive medicine in the last years. The category of “social good” with reference to the issues of prenatal testing, is part of a practice that is intended to help avoiding birth defects or enabling the enhancement of embryos. However, in the ambivalent janus-faced spirit of the modernistic demand of expert knowledge for definition, recording, representation and administration, new types of risk and bioethical questions are generated (Rapp). An ethnographical and narrative analysis of Czech genomics and reproductive medicine field concerning the popular/scientific representations of human genomics are concerned. Particularly interviews with geneticists, embryologists, IVF process actors as well are analysed.
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