Of men and beasts: an anthropological analysis of the movie Men and Chicken

  • Nina Kulenović Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
popular culture, anthropology of film, science fiction, science, biotechnology, humanity, Us and Others

Abstract

Following the path established in Serbian anthropology by the subdiscipline of the anthropology of film, as well as the anthropological "section" for the study of science fiction, the analytical focus of this paper is the film Men and Chicken. Contrary to critics who saw in this film "an unreadable, morbid and cynical postmodern horror", the basic thesis of this paper is that the film helps us not only to question public ideas about science, but also to shed light on the hopes, fears and conceptual dilemmas caused by the advance of biotechnologies. It helps us to, using a product of popular culture close to the experience of the general public, analyze the way in which the imaginarium of the film deals with the "paradox at the heart" of western thought - the simultaneous claim that humans are animals and that animality is the polar opposite of what we hold to be human. The paradox in question need not be an intellectual chew toy for a bored mind, nor an opportunity for demonstrating the wondrous power of an analytical process of Levi-Straussian calibre, rather a very relevant question in current institutional and public discussions on creating hybrid embryos/species at the heart of which are attempts to establish the biological, moral and cultural status of humans, non-humans and hybrids.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Agamben, Giorgio. 2002. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Allison, Anne. 2001. Cyborg Violence: Bursting Borders and Bodies with Queer Machines. Cultural Anthropology 16(2): 237-265.

Antonijević, Dragana. 2012. Sanjaju li klonovi ljubav? Predstave o klonovima u popularnoj kulturi. Etnoantropološki problemi 7(2): 359-380.

Back, Kurt W. 1995. Frankenstein and the Brave New World: Two Cautionary Myths on the Boundaries of Science. History of European Ideas 20(1-3): 327-332.

Banić Grubišić, Ana. 2013. Antropološki pristup medijima – kratak pregled (sa posebnim osvrtom na igrani film). Antropologija 13(2): 135-155.

Battaglia, Debbora. 2011. Multiplicities: An Anthropologist’s Thoughts on Replicants and Clones in Popular Film. Critical Inquiry 27(3): 493-514.

Beiser, Frederick. 1987. The Fate of Reason. German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Brown, Nik & Mike Michael. 2001. Switching Between Science and Culture in Transpecies Transplantation. Science, Technology & Human Values 26(1): 3-22.

Brown, Nik & Mike Michael. 2004. Risky creatures: institutional species boundary change in biotechnology regulation. Health, Risk & Society 6(3): 207-222.

Brown, Nik. 2009. Beasting the Embryo: The Metrics of Humanness in the Transpecies Embryo Debate. BioSocieties 4(2-3): 147-163.

Cole-Turner, Ronald. 2010. “Synthetic Biology: Theological Questions about Biological Engineering”. In: David Albertson & Cabell King (eds.), Without Nature? A New Condition for Theology, 136-151. New York: Fordham University Press.

Cornea, Christine. 2007. Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

DeMello, Margo. 2012. Animals and Society. An Introduction to Human-Animals Studies. New York: Columbia University Press.

Dinello, Daniel. 2005. Technophobia! Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Drummond, Lee. 1996. American Dreamtime: A Cultural Analysis of Popular Movies and Their Implications for a Science of Humanity. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1976[1937]. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Fischer, Michael M. J. 2007. Four Genealogies for a Recombinant Anthropology of Science and Technology. Cultural Anthropology 22(4): 539-615.

Franklin, Sarah. 2000. „Life Itself. Global Nature and the Genetic Imaginary“. In: Sarah Franklin, Celia Lury & Jack Stacey (eds.), Global Nature, Global Culture, 188-228. London: SAGE Publications.

Fukuyama, Francis. 2002. Our Posthuman Future. Consequences of the Biotechnological Revolution. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Fuller, Steve. 2011. Humanity 2.0. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gavrilović, Ljiljana. 1986. Naučna fantastika – mitologija tehnološkog društva. Etnološke sveske VII: 58-64.

Gavrilović, Ljiljana. 2008. Čitanje naučne fantastike i (kao) etnografije, ili obrnuto. Antropologija 6: 19-33.

Gavrilović, Ljiljana. 2011. Svi naši svetovi. O antropologiji, naučnoj fantastici i fantaziji. Beograd: Etnografski institut SANU.

Gavrilović, Ljiljana i Ivan Kovačević. 2015. Antropološko čitanje naučne fantastike. Etnoantropološki problemi 10(4): 987-1002.

Gray, Gordon. 2010. Cinema. A Visual Anthropology. Oxford: Berg.

Green, Ronald M. 2007. Babies by Design. The Ethics of Genetic Choice. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gregurić, Ivana. 2012. Era kiborga – stvaranje „djelimičnih ili potpuno umjetnih bića“. Antropologija 12(2): 31-41.

Haraway, Donna. 1991. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge.

Haynes, Roslynn D. 1995. Frankenstein: the scientist we love to hate. Public Understanding of Science 4: 435-444.

Helman, Cecil. 1988. Dr Frankenstein and the Industrial Body: Reflections on ‘Spare Part’ Surgery. Anthropology Today 4(3): 14-16.

Helman, Cecil. 2000. Why Medical Anthropology Matters. Anthropology Today 22(1): 3-4.

Holmberg, Tora. 2005. Questioning ‘the Number of the Beast’: Constructions of Humanness in a Human Genome Project (HGP) Narratives. Science as Culture 14(1): 23-37.

Jakimovski, Ilina i Dragan Jakimovski. 2010. Text as Laboratory: Science Fiction Literature as Anthropological Thought Experiment. Antropologija 10(2): 53-63.

Jarvie, I. C. 1987. Philosophy of the Film: Epistemology, Ontology, Aesthetics. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Kirby, David A. 2010. Lab Coats in Hollywood. Science, Scientists, and Cinema. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Kovačević, Ivan i Vladimira Ilić. 2016. Antropologija filma u Srbiji. Etnoantropološki problemi 11(1): 217-239.

Krasniewicz, Louise. 2006. “Round up the Usual Suspects”. Anthropology Goes to the Movies. Expedition 48(1): 8-14.

Kulenović, Nina. 2011. Socijalna ontologija u filmu „Avatar“: antropološka analiza (Etnoantropološki problemi, eMONOGRAFIJE, knj. 3). Beograd: Univerzitet u Beogradu, Filozofski fakultet, Odeljenje za etnologiju i antropologiju.

Kulenović, Nina. 2016. Objašnjenje u antropologiji: istorijski kontekst (Biblioteka Etnoantropološki problemi, Monografije, knj. 4). Beograd: Univerzitet u Beogradu, Filozofski fakultet, Odeljenje za etnologiju i antropologiju; Centar za antropologiju javnih i praktičnih politika; Dosije studio.

Lundin, Susanne. 1999. The Boundless Body: Cultural Perspectives on Xenotransplantation. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 64(1): 5-31.

MacWilliams, Alison Bright. 2011. “Science Playing God”. In: James F. McGrath (ed.), Religion and Science Fiction, 80-94. London: Lutterworth Press.

Marks, Jonathan. 2002. What it Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Marks, Jonathan. 2003. “98% Chimpanzee and 35% Daffodil: The Human Genome in Evolutionary and Cultural Context”. In: Alan Goodman, Deborah Heath, M. Susan Lundee (eds.), Genetic Nature/Culture, 132-152. Berkeley: University of California Press.

McKenny, Gerald. 2010. “Nature as a Guide, Nature as Natural Kinds: Return to Nature in the Ethics of Human Biotechnology”. In: David Albertson & Cabell King (eds.), Without Nature? A New Condition for Theology, 152-178. New York: Fordham University Press.
Mitchel, Ben C., et al. 2007. Biotechnology and the Human Good. Washington: Georgetown University Press.

Mulkay, Michael. 1993. Rhetorics of Hope and Fear in the Great Embryo Debate. Social Studies of Science 23(4): 721-742.

Mullin, Molly H. 1999. Mirrors and Windows: Sociocultural Studies of Human-Animal Relationships. Annual Review of Anthropology 28: 201-224.

O’Neill, Robert D. 2006. “Frankenstein to futurism”: representations of organ donation and transplantation in popular culture. Transplantation Reviews 20: 222-230.

Ostry, Elaine. 2004. “Is He Still Human? Are You?”: Young Adult Science Fiction in the Posthuman Age. The Lion and the Unicorn 28(2): 222-246.

Peri, Marvin. 2000[1993]. Intelektualna istorija Evrope. Beograd: Clio.

Polanyi, Michael. 1952. Stability of Beliefs. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 3(11): 217–232.

Powdermaker, Hortense. 1947. An Anthropologist Looks at the Movies. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 254: 80-87.

Rabinow, Paul. 1996a. Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rabinow, Paul. 1996b. “Artificiality and Enlightenment: From Sociobiology to Biosociality”. Dostupno na: https://schwarzemilch.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/rabinow_biopower-sociality.pdf

Rorty, Richard. 1998. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sharp, Lesley A. 2000. The Commodification of the Body and Its Parts. Annual Review of Anthropology 29: 287-328.

Sharp, Lesley A. 2006. Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and Transformed Self. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sharp, Lesley A. 2007. Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies. Death, Mourning and Scientific Desire in the Realm of Human Organ Transfer. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sheehan, James J. 1991. “Introduction”. In: James J. Sheehan & Morton Sosna (eds.), The Boundaries of Humanity. Humans, Animals, Machines, 27-36. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stock, Gregory. 2002. Redesigning Humans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Sutton, David & Peter Wogan. 2009. Hollywood Blockbusters. The Anthropology of Popular Movies. Oxford: Berg.

Thomas, Keith. 1983. Man and the Natural World. A History of the Modern Sensibility. New York: Pantheon Books.

Tim Ingold (ed.). 1994. Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology. London: Routledge.

Toumey, Christopher P. 1992. The Moral Character of Mad Scientists: A Cultural Critique of Science. Human, Technology & Human Values 17(4): 411-437.

Vint, Sherryl. 2007. Animals and Animality from the Island of Moreau to the Uplift Universe. The Yearbook of English Studies 37(2):85-102.

Weingart, Peter. 2003. Of power maniacs and unethical geniuses: science and scientists in fiction film. Public Understanding of Science 12: 279-287.

Wilson, Bryan (ed.). 1970. Rationality. Oxford: Blackwell.

Žikić, Bojan. 2010a. Antropološko proučavanje popularne kulture. Etnoantropološki problemi 5(2): 18-39.

Žikić, Bojan. 2010b. Antropologija i žanr: naučna fantastika – komunikacija identiteta. Etnoantropološki problemi 5 (1): 17-34.

Žikić, Bojan. 2012. Popularna kultura: nadkulturna komunikacija. Etnonantropološki problemi 7(2): 315-341.
Published
2017-08-30
How to Cite
Kulenović, Nina. 2017. “Of Men and Beasts: An Anthropological Analysis of the Movie Men and Chicken”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 12 (2), 437–465. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v12i2.5.