Accepted Paper:

Caring communities in the animal laboratory  


Mette N. Svendsen (University of Copenhagen)

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the practices of caring for animals that act as substitutes for humans in experiments seeking to enhance health for new born infants within the field of "translational medicine". Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a perinatal pig laboratory I look at the complex aesthetics through which the researchers' care for the piglets become central in instrumentalizing them as tools for infant health. Specifically I investigate the spatial boundaries of the caring community focusing on how the care work becomes muted outside the laboratory setting the moment the piglets have graduated to research samples and are abstracted into medical categories. I argue that the spatial segregation of care may be seen as part of a politics of life that morally detaches the pig from the human in order to pave the way for pig based research results to enter the clinic and translate into infant health. More broadly, the paper engages with debates about care in the emergent fields of hum-animal studies and the ways in which questions of solidary and community may be approached from a multi-species perspective.

Panel E1
Technological innovations in caring communities: New solidarities