Current Anthropology Special Issue on Potentiality and Humanness in the Fields of Medicine and Life Sciences Is Now Available
In recent years, advances in medical research and practices have made possible interventional therapies that not long ago might have been considered the stuff of science fiction. The buzz around these new biotechnologies, such as gene-based treatments and stem cell research, is often accompanied by a discussion of science’s potential to improve or transform the human condition.
With the goal of critically engaging with this concept of potentiality, a new volume in the Wenner-Gren Symposium Series, which will be included with the October issue of Current Anthropology, is devoted to studying the ways modern developments in science and medicine affect our understanding of what it means to be human.
This issue, titled Potentiality and Humanness: Revisiting the Anthropological Object in Contemporary Biomedicine, features fifteen articles that address the meanings and applications of potentiality in diverse cultural contexts. The editors of Potentiality and Humanness have organized the papers in this issue into four main topic areas: politics, economics, kinship, and the human condition. The articles cover a wide range of subjects using various methodologies, from anti-abortion rhetoric in the Catholic Church to the economics of kidney transplants and the kinship relations involved in transnational gestational surrogacy in India. As a collection, however, these essays provide an insightful look at the dynamics of power as it relates to medical practice and human subjectivity.
“Potentiality and Humanness deals with big questions that have relevance both to anthropology as a discipline and to the modern world,” says Wenner-Gren Foundation President Leslie Aiello. The supplement raises important moral questions involved in making potentiality claims, especially with regard to people’s dealings with the unknown.
The special issue is the 144th symposium in the Wenner-Gren Symposium Series and the seventh to be published as an open-access supplement of Current Anthropology.
“Potentiality and Humanness: Revisiting the Anthropological Object in Contemporary Biomedicine” in Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplement 7, eds. Karen-Sue Taussig, Klaus Hoeyer, and Stefan Helmreich. Current Anthropology 54:S7. October 2013.
is a transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. The journal is published by The University of Chicago Press and sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. For more information, please see our website: journals.uchicago.edu/CA.