Article ID: CBB033139718

Life, Time, and the Organism: Temporal Registers in the Construction of Life Forms (2019)


In this paper we articulate how time and temporalities are involved in the making of living things. For these purposes, we draw on an instructive episode concerning Norfolk Horn sheep. We attend to historical debates over the nature of the breed, whether it is extinct or not, and whether presently living exemplars are faithful copies of those that came before. We argue that there are features to these debates that are important to understanding contemporary configurations of life, time, and the organism, especially as these are articulated within the field of synthetic biology. In particular, we highlight how organisms are configured within different material and semiotic assemblages that are always structured temporally. While we identify three distinct structures, namely the historical, phyletic, and molecular registers, we do not regard the list as exhaustive. We also highlight how these structures are related to the care and value invested in the organisms at issue. Finally, because we are interested ultimately in ways of producing time, our subject matter requires us to think about historiographical practice reflexively. This draws us into dialogue with other scholars interested in time, not just historians, but also philosophers and sociologists, and into conversations with them about time as always multiple and never an inert background.

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Authors & Contributors
James P. Gibbs
Hennessy, Elizabeth
Alberto Lafón
Bruyninckx, Joeri
Balmer, Andrew
Mara Dicenta
Environmental History
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Science and Education
Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies
History and Theory
Palgrave Macmillan
Liverpool University Press
Boston University
Allen & Unwin
University of Minnesota
Extinction (biology)
Environmental history
Wajcman, Judith
Oakeley, Hilda D.
McTaggart, John M. E.
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
United States
Galapagos Islands
School of Milan

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