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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Cryopower and the Temporality of Frozen Indigenous Blood Samples

Cryopower and the Temporality of Frozen Indigenous Blood Samples

Chapter:
(p.249) 9 Cryopower and the Temporality of Frozen Indigenous Blood Samples
Source:
Power and Time
Author(s):

Emma Kowal

Joanna Radin

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.003.0010

Since the ability to freeze and successfully thaw living cells was developed in the mid-twentieth century, scientists have collected and frozen biological materials. To scientists, freezing promised to perpetually defer the death of individuals, populations, or species, transforming life itself in the process. This chapter considers the temporal implications of scientific freezing by focusing on specific kinds of frozen samples that are increasingly associated with controversy: those collected from people self-identified or marked as native, aboriginal, or indigenous. Some twentieth-century human biologists responded to the perceived endangerment of Indigenous peoples by freezing their genetic material, manipulating time to create a form of life without death. This chapter explores this form of time and life though the case of blood samples collected from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. In particular, it focuses on one large collection first formed in the 1960s and currently maintained in various freezers at a major Australian university. This case illustrates two competing modes of temporality produced by the conjunction of Indigenous biospecimens and the freezer: latent life and incomplete death. Both are variations of “cryopolitics,” a theoretical frame we offer to analyze the effects of cryopreservation on time and life.

Keywords:   cryopolitics, Australia, Aboriginal, Indigenous, freezing, cryopreservation, science, blood, biology, biospecimen

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