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SyntheticHow Life Got Made$
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Sophia Roosth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226440323

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226440637.001.0001

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Latter-Day Lazarus: Biological Salvage and Species Revival

Latter-Day Lazarus: Biological Salvage and Species Revival

(p.150) Chapter Six Latter-Day Lazarus: Biological Salvage and Species Revival

Sophia Roosth

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 6, “Latter-Day Lazarus,” recounts a resurrection tale, one in which synthetic biologists propose engineering a bio-Eden out of a biological wasteland. Synthetic biologists and conservation biologists are jointly working to “revive” extinct species such as the woolly mammoth and the passenger pigeon. Reporting on their efforts at de-extinction, this chapter attends to narratives of biologically enabled historical salvage, returning to the theme of transspecies and interspecies exchange, asking how synthetic biology problematizes definitions of species purity and biological temporality. By bookending “life” as an epistemic category, synthetic biologists remake biology as not just physical living stuff but also an engineered demonstration of what living things might once have been and what engineered organisms might someday become.

Keywords:   species, de-extinction, resurrection, salvage, temporality, woolly mammoth

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