Conference: Toward a Politics of Suspension? Time, Space and Control in Cryopreservation Practices

In many different societal fields such as reproductive and regenerative technologies, biomedical research, transplantation surgery, conservation biology and biosecurity preparedness, cryopreservation practices have significantly affected the concepts of life and death, health and illness, (in)fertility and biodiversity. The radical and ongoing transformation of temporal trajectories they bring about is fundamentally shaping the politics of life in the 21st century, engendering novel modes of processing, enhancing and managing biological matter and social processes linked to it. To capture the profound socio-material changes and forms of control introduced by cryopreservation practices, scholars have recently proposed the terms “cryopolitics” and “suspended life.”

Cryopolitics is characterized by strategies that suspend life, seeking to arrest processes of decay and dying. Arresting vital processes, moving things into limbo, and carving out spaces on the boundary between life and death are key features of this novel governance of life. This form of politics produces a dispersed landscape of cryobanking facilities and corresponding infrastructural arrangements that are detached from their original environments, generating new relations. The result is a liminal space in which cells, body parts, and DNA samples diverge from the temporality of the outside world but remain available to be reintroduced to it again.

The symposium Toward a Politics of Suspension? aims to explore and advance the theoretical proposition of “suspended life” and to better approach the questions that these new forms of politics and new practices around cryopreservation open up. In order to do this, the CRYOSOCITIES team has invited leading scholars in the field to give presentations around their work on the topic.

Please register with Viona Hartmann to attend the event.

Politics of Suspension conference poster with line-up

Thursday, June 23




Alexander Friedrich: Freezing time: A historical phenomenology of  cryogenic time (re)configuration techniques

Sara Lafuente-Funes: The intricacies of freezing in a reproductive lab: Toward a different politics of suspension?




Leon Wolff: The Edge of Yesterday: Cryopreservation, reversibility, and the end of precaution

Franziska von Verschuer: Conserving crises – suspending solutions: The techno-politics of ex situ agrobiodiversity conservation




Carrie Friese: Affective economies of cryopreservation: Between birthing and grieving

Veit Braun: On the brink, by a thread: suspension and inevitability in animal conservation




Thomas Lemke: Temporalities and temperatures: From cryopower toward a politics of suspension?


Wrap-up first day

Friday, June 24


Ruzana Liburkina: Eager to join in: What it takes to kick off a project of cryotechnological suspension

Hannah Landecker: Cell freezing and biofallibility: Peroxidation, genome instability, inexorability 




Klaus Hoeyer: The politics of suspension viewed through a lens of substitution


Discussion & wrap-up