Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Life Support

Biocapital and the New History of Outsourced Labor

2015
Author:

Kalindi Vora

Life Support

How global capitalism has turned human beings into a new form of biocapital

From call centers, overseas domestic labor, and customer care to human organ selling, gestational surrogacy, and knowledge work, such as software programming, life itself is channeled across the globe from one population to another. In Life Support, Kalindi Vora demonstrates how biological bodies become a new kind of global biocapital.

Life Support is an ethnographic study of the biopolitics of vital energy from the perspective of Indian call centers and surrogacy hospitals. Kalindi Vora argues that affective and reproductive labors produce more than economic value by helping to form new life and socialities. This book enlivens feminist theories on the ethics of female empathy and exchange in the outsourcing of care.

Aihwa Ong, coeditor of Asian Biotech and Worlding Cities

From call centers, overseas domestic labor, and customer care to human organ selling, gestational surrogacy, and knowledge work, such as software programming, life itself is channeled across the globe from one population to another.

In Life Support, Kalindi Vora demonstrates how biological bodies become a new kind of global biocapital. Vora examines how forms of labor serve to support life in the United States at the expense of the lives of people in India. She exposes how even seemingly inalienable aspects of human life such as care, love, and trust—and biological bodies and organs—are commodifiable entities as well as components essential to contemporary capitalism.

As with earlier modes of accumulation, this new global economy has come to rely on the reproduction of life for expansion. Human bodies and subjects are playing a role similar to that of land and natural resource dispossession in the period of capitalist growth during European territorial colonialism. Indeed, the rapid pace at which scientific knowledge of biology and genetics has accelerated has opened up the human body as an extended site for annexation, harvest, dispossession, and production.

Life Support

Kalindi Vora is assistant professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Life Support

Life Support is an ethnographic study of the biopolitics of vital energy from the perspective of Indian call centers and surrogacy hospitals. Kalindi Vora argues that affective and reproductive labors produce more than economic value by helping to form new life and socialities. This book enlivens feminist theories on the ethics of female empathy and exchange in the outsourcing of care.

Aihwa Ong, coeditor of Asian Biotech and Worlding Cities

The reader of this slim volume is likely to be astonished in that Vora’s book genuinely makes good on its title, delivering an original, dense, and entirely coherent theorization of biocapital.

Antipode

[A]n engaging read, short on empirics but long on insights.

CHOICE

Life Support

Contents

Introduction. Life Support: India’s Production of Vital Energy
1. Limits of Labor: Affect and the Biological in Transnational Surrogacy and Service Work
2. Call Center Agents: Commodified Affect and the Biocapital of Care
3. Information Technology Professionals: Innovation and Uncertain Futures
4. Transnational Gestational Surrogacy: Expectation and Exchange
Epilogue: Imperial Pasts and Mortgaged Futures
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index