Placental economies: Care, anticipation and vital matters in the placenta stem cell lab in Korea
Postdoc and member of the research project VITAL Jieun Lee contributed to the journal BioSocieties with the article "Placental economies: Care, anticipation and vital matters in the placenta stem cell lab in Korea".
Thinking with the vital materiality of placentas as it is evinced in a placental stem cell research lab in Korea, the article explores the relations and practices of care that are essential to the circulation of biological matters as infrastructure of tissue economies. Jieun Lee attends to the flows of care that sustain tissue economies with the notion of ‘placental economies’. Shifting attention from donor subjects and tissue objects to practices and relations of care as an infrastructure for the circulation of tissues, the article explores how the vitality of biological matters is an achievement made and sustained through the relations and practices of care that animate the placenta in different forms. On the basis of an ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Korea, the article focuses on two different forms of care (lab workers’ care of cells, and pregnant women’s care of fetuses) that enable the (re)production and circulation of placenta-derived stem cells possible. Jieun Lee thereby argues that the flows of tissues and vitality are the flows of care, as an anticipatory as well as responsive practices, without which the vitality cannot exist in its current form. Furthermore, she suggests that relations and practices of care are a kind of infrastructure of promissory biotechnological enterprises.
Jieun Lee; Placental economies: Care, anticipation and vital matters in the placenta stem cell lab in Korea, in BioSocieties, December 2016, Volume 11, Issue 4