Chapter

From Dead Embryos to Icons of Life

Lynn M. Morgan

in Icons of Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520260436
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944725 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520260436.003.0007
From Dead Embryos to Icons of Life

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This chapter discusses embryo specimens as icons of life. In the 1960s, embryo and fetal imagery moved outside the laboratory into popular magazines, prenatal guidebooks, and photographs. Specimens were pivotal in this transformation. People started to spruce them up and feature them in feel-good stories about the wonders of life and our common humanity. In the process, embryos were granted ever more authority and social agency. They began to assert their influence in law, medicine, politics, and the identities people were willing to ascribe to their children-to-be. Just as we (in our varied identities and guises) created embryos (in their varied identities and guises), so embryos created us.

Keywords: embryos; collecting; embryo specimens; fetal imagery

Chapter.  13881 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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