Chapter in Nature Remade: Engineering Life, Envisioning Worlds. Published by University of Chicago Press, 2020.
Edited by Luis A. Campos, Michael R. Dietrich, Tiago Saraiva, Christian C. Young.
“Engineering” has firmly taken root in the entangled bank of biology even as proposals to remake the living world have sent tendrils in every direction, and at every scale. Nature Remade explores these complex prospects from a resolutely historical approach, tracing cases across the decades of the long twentieth century. These essays span the many levels at which life has been engineered: molecule, cell, organism, population, ecosystem, and planet. From the cloning of agricultural crops and the artificial feeding of silkworms to biomimicry, genetic engineering, and terraforming, Nature Remade affirms the centrality of engineering in its various forms for understanding and imagining modern life. Organized around three themes—control and reproduction, knowing as making, and envisioning—the chapters in Nature Remade chart different means, scales, and consequences of intervening and reimagining nature.