Science, Culture, and the Making of Modern Non/personhood


ANIMA: Critical Race Studies Otherwise

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 35 illustrations Published: December 2018

Author: Megan H. Glick

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Science and Technology Studies

In Infrahumanisms Megan H. Glick considers how conversations surrounding nonhuman life have impacted a broad range of attitudes toward forms of human difference such as race, sexuality, and health. She examines the history of human and nonhuman subjectivity as told through twentieth-century scientific and cultural discourses that include pediatrics, primatology, eugenics, exobiology, and obesity research. Outlining how the category of the human is continuously redefined in relation to the infrahuman—a liminal position of speciation existing between the human and the nonhuman—Glick reads a number of phenomena, from early twentieth-century efforts to define children and higher order primates as liminally human and the postwar cultural fascination with extraterrestrial life to anxieties over AIDS, SARS, and other cross-species diseases. In these cases the efforts to define a universal humanity create the means with which to reinforce notions of human difference and maintain human-nonhuman hierarchies. In foregrounding how evolving definitions of the human reflect shifting attitudes about social inequality, Glick shows how the consideration of nonhuman subjectivities demands a rethinking of long-held truths about biological meaning and difference.


Infrahumanisms is an ambitious book that shows the applicability of the term ‘infrahuman’ to a wide range of historical contexts and highlights how these relate to constructions of sexual, racial, gender, and bodily difference…. Offering analyses of an impressive range of twentieth-century scientific and cultural phenomena, from the emergence of primatology to extraterrestrial sightings in the postwar era and contemporary xenotransplantation, Infrahumanisms will be of interest to scholars working in the history of sexuality, critical race studies, animal studies, medical humanities, and science studies.” — Ina Linge, Journal of the History of Sexuality

“It is a rare work that can bring together topics as disparate as childhood, nonhuman primates, aliens, xenotransplantation, and AIDS…. Full of surprising connections and intriguing insights, Infrahumanisms is a rich and stimulating contribution to the literature on eugenics, biomedicalization, and biopolitics in general.” — Rose Trappes, Metascience

“The scholarly discussions in both human-animal studies and posthuman theory have been insufficiently attentive to race and colonial histories, and Glick’s work is a welcome addition to these conversations, showing gaps in previous ways of thinking about the ideological functions of the animal/human boundary.” — Sherryl Vint, Catalyst

Infrahumanisms shows how beliefs about species categories, species relations, and species hierarchies form the ground from which ideas about biological essentialism, humane behavior, and dehumanization often grow…. Glick’s methods and style in Infrahumanisms are bold and refreshing…. Readers will find this book to be generous, opening up lines of inquiry that may be taken up elsewhere.” — Rebecah Pulsifer, Women's Studies Quarterly

“Glick presents a new focus on the history of dehumanization and devaluation, of cultural and political exclusion based on differential conditions of embodiment including race, gender, sexuality, disability, and disease status…. A dense yet rewarding read. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty.” — J. A. Kegley, Choice

“With superior scholarship and a daring treatment of her material, Megan H. Glick weaves together a wide variety of texts and historical periods in a sophisticated fashion. Glick's use of the concept ‘infrahuman’ to examine topics ranging from primatology and eugenics to obesity will be of great interest to scholars working in sociology, science and technology studies, animal studies, posthumanism, critical race studies, and gender studies. An insightful book and a strong contribution.” — Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, author of Made to Matter: White Fathers, Stolen Generations

Infrahumanisms makes new inroads into science studies, animal studies, and critical race literatures by tracking post-eugenic thought through scientific disciplines and popular culture. Offering eye-opening analyses of how nonhuman bodies configure the social field of human differences, Megan H. Glick's excellent work helps us understand the history of the posthuman grounded in the changing biopolitics of race and empire.” — Neel Ahuja, author of Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Megan H. Glick is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: Toward a Theory of Infrahumanity  1
Part I. Bioexpansionism, 1900s-1930s
1. Brief Histories of Time: Nature, Culture, and the Making of Modern Childhood  29
2. Ocular Anthropomorphisms:Eugenics and Primatology at the Threshold of the "Almost Human"  56
Part II. Extraterrestriality, 1940s-1970s
3. On Alien Ground: Extraterrestrial Sightings, Atomic Warfare, and the Undoing of the Human Body  85
4. Inner and Outer Spaces: Exobiology, Human Genetics, and the Disembodiment of Corporeal Difference  110
Part III. Interiority, 1980s-2010s
5. Of Sodomy and Cannibalism: Disgust, Dehumanization, and the Rhetorics of Same-Sex and Cross-Species Contagion  139
6. Everything except the Squeal: Porcine Hybridity in the Obesity Epidemic and Xenotransplantation Research  159
Conclusion. The Plurality Is Near: Techniques of Symbiotic Re-speciation  196
Notes  209
Bibliography  247
Index  263
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Winner, 2019 Alison Piepmeier Book Award, presented by the National Women's Studies Association

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0151-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0116-4
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