Technological innovation in human-computer interfaces, breakthroughs in medical biotechnology, and the emerging notion that aging is a disease seriously challenge established understandings of what a human being is, or might be. A substantial reason for current popular interest in emerging technologies is the possibility of living forever; the prospect of human immortality. This project will explore contemporary pursuits of immortality in order to enhance our understanding of the ways in which a new human being is articulated, and examine the social and cultural basis for these conceptualizations.
I approach what I call the ethnographic field of immortality quests by focussing on transhumanism and anti-ageing. I will empirically scrutinize six different cases where a new notion of the human being is explicitly articulated and/or developed, focussing on two categories of cases: ethnographic case-studies of the transhumanist movement on the one hand and cases from what I generally term the anti-ageing movement on the other. I give priority to the former (comprising four case-studies) in order to unpack the radical and explicit conceptualisations of immortality before comparing these to the patterns of the more ‘everyday’ cases of anti-ageing (two cases).
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