Metabolism Cages for New World Animals, Small and Large

22 Sep 2022
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

3335 Dwinelle Hall

Event Type

Anthony Ryan Hatch

In the mid-19th century, metabolism cages emerged as key experimental infrastructures in biochemistry and animal studies used to capture, control, and isolate the metabolic processes unfolding within a subject’s body. By placing new world animals in a metabolism cage (rodents, dogs, primates, humans), precisely controlling their food and water intake, and monitoring and analyzing their biowaste, researchers developed a new scientific knowledge about how bodies and environments interact—metabolism cages allowed researchers to open the black box of metabolism. These new metabolic truths formed the basis of new forms of political governance, scientific norms, and cultural practices all of which transform the matter of/in bodies across species. Drawing on theoretical insights from critical race STS and animal studies, this lecture explores the design history of metabolism cages as carceral and experimental black boxes that became part of a broader scheme to establish metabolic dominance over multispecies life. This lecture describes ongoing intellectual and creative collaborations with student researchers and designers in Black Box Labs at Wesleyan University in which we deconstruct black boxes (like metabolism cages) by analyzing the power relationships that shape science and technology.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  CSTMS