The Demise of the Mount Holyoke Collection

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:
The Demise of the Mount Holyoke Collection

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This chapter discusses embryo specimens as specters of death. It highlights a paradox: while lifelike, animated embryo and fetal images are becoming ubiquitous, they are increasingly juxtaposed against another set of images that depicts dead embryos and fetuses (including specimens) as tragic, threatening figures. Lifelike versus lifeless. In this polarized context, embryos are rarely permitted to remain neutral or unmarked. Instead, people quarrel over the place that embryos should occupy along several linked continua: edifying/abhorrent, polluted/pure, entertaining/alarming, tainted/innocent, good/bad. We have seen how embryo specimens are transformed into creative artistic projects, digital scientific models, and exhibits celebrating the embryological origin story; now we will take a look at how specimens are led down a darker path and made into polluting, tragic, and criminal figures.

Keywords: embryo specimens; death; fetuses; lifelike

Chapter.  9433 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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