Betrayed by the body: “Moral Biologies” and the biomedicalization of acceptable groups.

This paper examines the connection between two concepts, that of “Moral Biologies” and “biological citizenship” as both mechanisms of aggregation but also as definitive of individual subject positions. “Moral Biologies” describes the way that moral evaluation and apparent biological fact are co-constitutive, as through the assigning of physiological susceptibility or risk causation (Sienna 2009). These biologies connect the general universal biological representation based on real specimens with the earlier purifying regime forms of objectivity (Daston and Galison 2007) through their construction of a general biology and divergent biologies that are more susceptible to risk. Particular focus here is given to the way behaviors and lifestyles are conceived as constructive of both anatomy and bodily health, so that through the metonymic quality of behavior, practice, or community membership the biology of the individual is conceived as changed regardless of individual variation. It responds to the notion of Biological Citizenship used to describe the way groups are marked or strive to coalesce around perceived biomedical/biological difference (Heath, Rapp and Taussig 2003; Rose and Novas 2002; Petrayna 2002). These analytics suggest a transposition of signification and meaning between dominant and sublimated modes or schemas of representation (of self and bodies generally). Whether the allegorical poses of anatomical drawings in Vasalius’ anatomical atlas, the construction of plague in the 14th century as arising in the susceptibility of the bodies of the poor, or being deemed “high risk” based on lifestyle today, these concepts represent an active co-construction of the corpus by material and moral constituants.