American Zoe Trope

It has been recently reported that Major League Baseball is conducting genetic tests on certain young Latin American baseball prospects and their parents, in response to cases of identity and age falsification. Naturally, the bioethics and privacy issues involved in such practice immediately come to the fore:

Many experts in genetics consider such testing a violation of personal privacy. Federal legislation, signed into law last year and scheduled to take effect Nov. 21, prohibits companies based in the United States from asking an employee, a potential employee or a family member of an employee for a sample of their DNA.

. . .

The federal bill forbids an employer from asking for DNA or to hire, fire or compensate based on a person’s DNA or any family member’s DNA. The employee or family member of the employee does not have to be a citizen of the United States.

Because the law is not yet in effect and has not been enforced, it is unclear how it will apply to cases in which American companies conduct DNA tests abroad on citizens of other countries.

We might also examine the situation from the perspective of Giorgio Agamben's politics. The birth certificate is one's original claim to citizenship in a state apparatus, without which one essentially becomes stateless, a sort of refugee whose tethers to citizenship are deeply frayed at best. In voluntarily obscuring the significance of the birth certificate, Latin American baseball players have been able to negotiate a cloud of ambiguity to obscure their ages and identities, thereby making themselves seem more talented prospects at a younger age and thus more attractive to major league franchises in the United States.

"The refugee should be considered for what it is, namely, nothing less than a limit-concept that at once brings a radical crisis to the principles of the nation-state and clears the way for a renewal of categories that can no longer be delayed" (Agamben, Means Without End: Notes on Politics, p. 22).

We witness spectacular capitalism and the specific meshworks of sporting Empire respond in turn, however, not by reassigning the bios that is the political life of the citizen, but rather by having the zoe that is one's naked existence as a living being speak to the models of truth it proposes.

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  1. sportsBabel » What Is a Stadium? says:

    [...] on a spectrum of trauma, pain, embodiment and sheer reduction to what he refers to as zoe or naked life. In drawing the matrixial relations between the concentration camp proper and the camp-as-form that [...]