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MHS / Sociology Seminar: Mette Nordahl Svendsen

March 30, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Speaker: Mette Nordahl Svendsen, University of Copenhagen

Title: Life with a View: Worth, Temporality and Substitution across Species and Dissimilar Spaces

Date and time: March 30th 2017, 16:00 – 17:30

Location: ICOSS Conference Room


This talk compares how life is valued in Denmark’s neonatal intensive care units, dementia care sites, and animal laboratories where non-human models are used as stand-ins for vulnerable humans. Through ethnographic analysis I trace practices of substitution in caring for preterm infants, research piglets, and people with dementia. With the concepts of chronos, kairos, and aevum I illuminate the shifting temporalities that surround these liminal lives and come to both shape and question their worth. The comparisons I employ travel across categories of newborn and old, human and animal within the Danish welfare state. In traversing species and unlike, or dissimilar, spaces this multispecies perspective alerts us to the porosity of the category of the worthy human in time and collectivity.


Mette N. Svendsen is associate professor and head of the Center for Medical Science and Technology Studies at the University of Copenhagen. She has carried out research on genetic testing, donations of embryos to human embryonic stem cell research, the use of human subjects in pharmacogenomics research, and the use of the pig and the monkey in experimental research. She is currently heading the research project ‘‘A life worth living: negotiating worth in human and animal’’ funded by the Danish Research Council. The project explores the many ways in which biomedical knowledge production and its translation to the clinic are embroiled in existential questions of life’s worth. Mette N. Svendsen has published widely in anthropological, sociological and STS journals. She has received several international prizes for her research.



March 30, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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