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Date and Location

November 7, 2022
12:15 PM - 2:00 PM ET
Cgis (south) Building Room S050 1730 Cambridge Street


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​​​The examination of how biological materials are extracted from bodies and put into circulation provides an understanding of how living entities are made mobile and valuable. So far, STS and economic sociology have often theorized capitalist value production in terms of ‘gift’, ‘commodity’ or ‘asset’. Yet these distinctions are far from obvious in practice. By following the paths taken by human cells prepared as innovative therapies and describing their social and economic life, it becomes clear that valuable ‘things’ can move in and out of the gift, commodity, or asset form several times and in different sequences over the course of their lifecycle. I will argue that these flows are inherent to bioeconomic activity and that their characterization implies a shift of analytic attention from distinct forms of value (such as gifts, commodities and assets) to rapid transformations between such forms of value, which is key to understanding and criticizing contemporary capitalist value production. Informed by STS, valuation studies and cultural anthropology, the presentation will be based on the results of a case study of extracorporeal photopheresis, a therapeutic approach intended to treat patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease, which occurs when donor cells recognize the host organism as foreign.

Speakers and Presenters

​Pierre Delvenne, Senior Research Associate of the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.–FNRS) and Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Liège


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