Vol 29 No 3 (2014)
Borders of the Human
By Tobias Rees
My fieldwork among HIV vaccine researchers, activists, and funders has led me to suggest that humanity—when it was first conceived of in the late eighteenth century—emerged as a plan, a plan for how to establish a future anticipated in the present. The powerful implication of this fieldwork-based suggestion is that what humanity is—or if it is at all—depends on the available humanity plans. I argue in this essay that we are currently seeing the emergence of a new—a biological—humanity plan, and I wish to make visible that—and how—this biological humanity plan has outgrown, conceptually as well as institutionally, older humanity plans. I also hope to make comprehensible the massive—intellectual as well as political—challenge this emergence poses.
global health; Gates Foundation; humanity; humanitarianism