By making reference to the political context of “molecular invasion” (Critical Art Ensemble 2002), this article will compare two practices of production and administration of hormones to highlight the consequences at stake when business property extends over bodies and cells of humans, animals and plants.
On the one hand, I will examine DIWO (Do It With Others) biohacking workshops that synthesise pharmaceutical hormones and share the know-how by using open-source protocols and participatory workshop methods. I will refer to these specific practices as exemplary of a growing approach to the topic which represents a new field combining biohacking, activism, art, and open science, by “commoning” (Linebaugh 2008) medical tools and knowledge. These workshops are hacking the business property in humans by commoning practices of co-creating and co-producing hormone molecules, refusing to be locked into the profit-driven mechanics of bio-capital and aiming at taking back scientific knowledge. Moreover, these interventions question what a normal or natural model of sex is – given that organic pollutants are already affecting every aspect of the sphere of reproduction of humans and animals, its related organs and hormonal balance (SCOPE-IUPAC 2001; Lind and Lind 2011; Hood 2005; Kier 2010; Langstone 2010).
On the other hand, I draw on an open-ended conversation I conducted with a number of Italian trans activists, focusing on the power that pharmaceutical monopolies have, through the intellectual property rights on pharmaceuticals (including hormones), to introduce or withdraw from the market drugs on which many people rely.
This article aims to show how selected DIWO biohacking workshops, which are taking place between Europe and North America, can be understood as decolonial interventions as they call us to critically reappraise the relationship between knowledge, power, and institutions by commoning science knowledge and resisting the push to commodify knowledge and place it behind paywalls, by commoning the molecules’ production. Finally, they promote a more inclusive approach to healthcare that critically reappraises technology and raises collective awareness of our bodies as battlegrounds to be engineered and controlled.
Commoning Molecules: Decolonising Biological Patents by Gender Hacking Protocols.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 21(7), 153-169.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol21/iss7/12