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PETERS, Tori Thompson

Spring 2021, 51.2, pages: 123-137

My Body, My Cells: Rhetoric and the Molecularization of the Human


In September 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing inviting comments on the regulation of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products. This essay uses Nikolas Rose’s concept of molecularization to show the rhetorical conflicts that emerged between lay public arguments and biomedical experts’ claims about the limits of personal autonomy, ownership, and the definition of cells and tissues as products. By analyzing how public actors negotiate the regulation of human tissues, I argue that a rhetorical account of molecularization shows how and for whom bodies are commodified and physically distributed. Through this rhetorical account of molecularization, I move between the molecular level of the body (the micro) and the situatedness of human bodies (the macro) to rethink the ways bodies are defined, even at the level of the cell.


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