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Chapter 13 chapter synthesizes the reasoning developed throughout the book, discussing the important role played by human prehistory in understanding the challenges facing modern-day humans in a globalized world of rapidly developing technologies in an increasingly virtual existence.
In Chapter 14, “Nature, Gender, and Sexuality,” Greta Gaard constructs a genealogy feminist ecocriticism and ecofeminist literary criticism. Beginning with foundational figures like Rachel Carson, Carolyn Merchant, Val Plumwood, and Annette Kolodny (to whom the chapter is dedicated), Gaard displays the challenges that many women faced when establishing the field(s) and giving voice to ecofeminist ideas. Analyzing works by Freya Mathews, Linda Hogan, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston, among many others, Gaard reveals the richly intersectional nature of contemporary ecofeminist criticism and feminist ecocriticism, which explore and develop out of the many junctures of gender, sexuality, indigeneity, and race.
In Chapter 16, “The Nature of Animality,” Michael Lundblad explores how questions of animal (and human) nature animate the contemporary interdisciplinary fields of posthumanism, multispecies ethnography, science and technology studies, animality studies, and human-animal studies. The chapter examines how animality has long defined how humans think about each other and how rejecting a fundamental distinction between humans and animals enables us to see the intertwined “becomings” of different beings. The chapter constructs a genealogy of prominent theoretical responses to questions about animals and animality by Jacques Derrida, Erica Fudge, and Donna Haraway, among others. Theories of animality, Lundblad demonstrates, challenge how we think about history, periodization, and culture, and breathe new life into old debates within literary studies such as questions of agency, character, and perspective.
This chapter is written for the researcher who may encounter immunohistochemistry (IHC) in a slightly different context when compared to diagnostic applications. There are many moving parts to IHC assays, and this chapter covers all of the important aspects the researcher needs to consider when employing IHC for their projects. This objective is achieved by employing a request form for IHC services. The questions posed on the form build towards piecing together a protocol that is fit for purpose and can be used in many applications. Practical explanations about epitope retrieval, diluting antibodies from concentrates and the use of detection kits are provided. The need to block endogenous enzyme activity is also explained, as is the technique for antibody optimization. Borrowing the basic fundamental IHC protocol used in diagnostic histopathology, the researcher should be able to adopt and change parameters to suit their research applications.
Our young and originally tropical species Homo sapiens has spread, in an amazingly short period of time, to occupy more areas of our planet than any other animal species has ever contrived to do. Human beings reside on all five continents, and in virtually every environment that those continents have to offer.
Like every one of the many millions of other organisms with which we share our planet, the species Homo sapiens is the product of a long evolutionary history. The first very simple cellular organisms spontaneously arose on Earth close to four billion years ago, and their descendants have since diversified to give us forms as different as streptococci, roses, sponges, anteaters, and ourselves.
As scientific knowledge increased, the outward physical variation of humans on this planet posed a mystery to natural historians, and begged explanation. Why were there so many different “kinds” of people on the planet? If scientists could understand how this variation worked in nature, then perhaps, the reasoning went, we could understand why people appear different.
Why do some researchers care so much about race in their experimental designs? It is easy to understand why a racist forced by inherent bias would take this approach. But why would a nonracist biologist insist on doing racial science? As far as we can tell, there are two major reasons for this: medical expediency and the discovery of the genetic basis of complex traits. We would suggest that the first of these is a red herring, and the second a brick wall.
Research prior to human genomics opened several doors to race-focused research, but the availability of genomes was a game-changer. As we pointed out in Chapter 4, there is nothing inherently wrong in using racial or ethnic boundaries as research tools for trying to discover biological patterns within the human species – if they are justified.
A big part of the story of our species, and of how variation is apportioned within it, involves how our ancestors spread over the globe. After all, if we had simply stayed in our place of origin in Africa and not ventured out, there would be no question that we are a single entity. That is because if our species had been restricted to a single location (as many others are), two things would have ensured that differentiation into separate entities would not have occurred.
Humans have been roaming around the planet since the very beginning, encountering other humans in the process and doubtless forming opinions about them. And since human beings seem to have an innate urge to classify everything – doing which, after all, lies at the core of our way of mentally organizing and understanding the world around us – there is little doubt that, from the earliest days, our symbolic forebears categorized each other in some way.
As the nineteenth century dawned, the idea that species might not forever remain as the Creator had made them was no longer unthinkable. At one end of the range of possibilities was Buffon’s limited notion of within-species change; at the other was Lamarck’s vision of lineages transforming themselves through inner impulse.
The human species is very young, but in a short time it has acquired some striking, if biologically superficial, variations across the planet. As this book shows, however, none of those biological variations can be understood in terms of discrete races, which do not actually exist as definable entities. Starting with a consideration of evolution and the mechanisms of diversification in nature, this book moves to an examination of attitudes to human variation throughout history, showing that it was only with the advent of slavery that considerations of human variation became politicized. It then embarks on a consideration of how racial classifications have been applied to genomic studies, demonstrating how individualized genomics is a much more effective approach to clinical treatments. It also shows how racial stratification does nothing to help us understand the phenomenon of human variation, at either the genomic or physical levels.
In this chapter, I give an overview of the taxonomic classification of living colobine monkeys, primate subfamily Colobinae. With ten genera, 78 species and 124 taxa (species and subspecies) currently recognized, colobines are one of the most diverse primate subfamilies. Here, I follow the taxonomy proposed by Mittermeier et al. and Rowe and Myers, and discuss taxonomic changes over the last 50 years. Although our knowledge on colobine diversity and evolution increased considerably in recent decades, the current taxonomic classification of colobines should be regarded as preliminary and further changes will be required when additional data on ecology, behaviour, morphology and genetics become available. However, besides the need of additional biological data we need also to agree on how to classify colobine diversity (i.e. which species concept is applied) in order to establish a refined and broadly acceptable colobine taxonomy.
Evolution by natural selection is not a process by which objects called “species” change over time under selective pressures. There are no such objects. It is a process by which organisms that are related in salient ways, by which they are specific we might say (as opposed to being members of a species), are replaced by others. There is more than one way in which they can be specific. One is related compatibility, which some organisms, the xs, exhibit just when they have common ancestry, when they are reproductively compatible, and when every organism so related to one of the xs is among the xs. Given this way of understanding specificity, we current humans, the Homo sapiens presently inhabiting the planet, could give way to future humans that resemble us only insofar as they are reproductively compatible with us. What is more, our humanity is not essential to us. Neither is our origin, in that we might have originated in a different time and place. So in theory – given technology that is currently out of sight – we could change ourselves into creatures that are very unlike us.
This chapter takes Dickinson as its first case study to examine how figures such as a robin or a pine can map out partial ecological relations that allow for survival. As her poetic and scientific engagement shows, understanding species as figures reveals both their material and speculative potential—what is termed their disjunct specificity since a literary figure can be understood to have both a material or literal ground and a metaphorical meaning. As figures, species are partially empirical matter (as the successive biological reproduction of individuals) and partially subjective concepts (as idealized or defined “types”). The chapter first examines the scientific problem that disjunct species presented, where similar species appeared in widely disparate geographical regions, prompting investigations by scientists such as Asa Gray and Louis Agassiz about whether or how these species could be biologically and spatially related. Moving from their observations to Dickinson’s poetic-empirical observations, the partiality of her gaze reveals a sense of species engaged with current discussions of biological species, but also significantly more diminutive. This “species” reveals ecological relation to be figural and partial, based upon a certain slippage between some material that holds while the earth, sky, and even body shifts, departs, disperses.
The chapter begins with a brief genealogy of new materialism and inquiry into the significance of the nonhuman stories entangled in the ethical, political, scientific, and theoretical complexities of the Anthropocene. It first explains the convergence of the new materialism(s) and environmental humanities on ecologically engaged collaborative thinking in responding to bioethical, socio-cultural, and scientific questions that arise from the challenges of Anthropocene. It then discusses how new materialism has espoused the postmodern and poststructuralist disclosure of the link between the dualistic conceptions of the world and the traditional realist systems of representation. The broad argument is that the significance of the agentic capacity of matter in producing layers of expressivity has undermined the established credo about storytelling being uniquely all too human. The “nonhuman story” is argued to mark an important shift in the foundational notions of narrative and storytelling. Material ecocriticism re-envisions narrative as the signifying agency of living matter or narrative agency. Material ecocriticism sees the world as a site of narrativity where narrative agencies – the building blocks of storied matter – demonstrate some degree of creative experience.
Our account of moral status embraces equal consequentialist consideration for all sentient beings while ascribing the stronger protection of rights to those with narrative capacity. Individuals with the capacity to have narrative self-conceptions or identities have full-strength rights, while individuals with nontrivial temporal self-awareness that falls short of narrative capacity have partial-strength rights. This account of moral status is neutral with respect to species, which means that membership in Homo sapiens is neither necessary nor sufficient for moral status or rights. The final three sections explore ethical implications for research involving human embryos, rodents, and great apes. We defend a very liberal position with respect to embryo research, a relatively restrictive approach to rodent research (granting equal consequentialist consideration to rodents’ interests while permitting their use on utilitarian grounds), and a prohibition of invasive, nontherapeutic research involving great apes.
This chapter examines a number of concepts that are used in arguments against taking animals seriously. The chapter explores how difficult it is to say what behaviors are natural and looks at the multiple meanings of "species" and "human" and "person." The chapter also discusses the problems with familiar hierarchies of worth and explores some of the tensions that have developed between animal liberation and disability activists.