In the Shadow of the Clone: Race in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

14 March 2011, 12:00 - 14:00

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Work -in- progress Seminar

Josie Gill (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)

 

Abstract

Human cloning, although yet to become a reality, is often evoked in discussions of the posthuman subject, the clone acting as a symbol of the unsettling of traditional conceptions of human nature provoked by developments in biotechnology. The ambiguous nature of the clone has inspired writers wishing to explore the boundaries of the human. In Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, the figure of the clone acts as “something very simple –it sounds rather grand – but, a metaphor for the human condition”. However whilst Ishiguro avoids ethical discussions about reproductive cloning in favour of the wider question of what it means to be human, cloning is more than simply an expedient metaphor for this question in the novel. In this seminar I will discuss how Ishiguro’s exploration of cloning is accompanied by a consideration of race, a parallel which draws on the genetically defined identities of both the clone and racial other. Through the evocation of the experiences of people marginalised because of their racial difference in the portrayal of the clones, the reader is forced not only to confront contemporary processes of exclusion and dehumanization, but to consider how the racially marginalised might act as prototypes for artificially reproduced subjects. The novel suggests that as we enter the twenty first century, alternative ways of thinking about what it means to be human are required, whether or not genetic technologies result in new methods of human reproduction.

Josie Gill is a PhD student in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on race and genetics in contemporary British fiction.

 

Open to all.  No registration required.

Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum seminar series.
For more information about CIRF, please visit the link on the right hand side of this page.