Making Futures by Freezing Life: Ambivalent Temporalities of Cryopreservation Practices
The preservation of biological matter at extremely low temperatures has gained increasing prominence in medicine, plant breeding, and wildlife conservation over the last decades. Stored at temperatures of down to -196°C, cells and tissues are frozen in time. Oocytes, stem cells, germplasm, and sperm endure while the world keeps on changing. However, cryobanks are not simply stockpile facilities or archives. The (possibility of) storing organic materials creates potentialities and contingencies. Frozen cells become vital deposits, valuable backups, options to be considered.
Contrary to the prevalent idea of freezing as stabilizing, fixing, and containing bio-objects, this panel seeks to explore the generative dimensions of cryopreservation as a way of modifying relations and turning biological matter into things-to-become (Stephens et al. 2018). Putting organic materials ‘on ice’ shapes and redefines present socialities, politics, moral economies, and infrastructures. By the same token, it changes the ways in which futures are anticipated and enacted. Frozen matter alters existing and creates new temporalities.
We are looking for contributions that trace notions such as “anticipation”, “suspension”, “spaces of as-if”, “hope”, or “expectation” in the realm of cryopreservation. Participants are invited to ground these concepts in empirical insights into practices of cryo-banking and the materialities of frozen tissue.