17 Oct 2013
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
470 Stephens Hall
Assistant Professor in the History of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine
Historians of the life sciences have long appreciated the farm, the zoo, and the museum as important sites of technical and social innovation. At the turn of the millennium, representatives of these institutions adopted liquid nitrogen-based cryopreservation systems to support repositories of frozen blood, sperm and eggs. Broad anxieties about endangerment of biodiversity found expression in efforts to preserve these bits of animal bodies for the future. I explain the consequence of these efforts in terms of “planned hindsight” – an orientation to the future that attempts to prepare for the need to look back to the past – in three separate biodiversity cryopreservation projects. If cryopreservation has served as a technology for harnessing a slice of life in a state of suspended animation, planned hindsight has provided the ethical and epistemological justification for how that slice should be made.
Additional sponsorship comes from: Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies Office for the History of Science and Technology