Labor has been and continues to be an indispensable category of analysis for radical scholars, as evidenced by the proliferation of new terms—“affective” labor, “immaterial” labor, “digital” labor, and so forth—developed to describe the asymmetrical relations of capital and labor in and across contemporary settings. This essay traces the recent advent of the concept of “biological” or “clinical” labor, exploring (a) the utility of the concept for radical historians and (b) the utility of perspectives from labor history to the studies of “biocapital” found in recent science and technology studies (STS). Placing labor history and STS in conversation (without presupposing clear or stable boundaries around either field of scholarship), the essay probes the meanings and limitations of the concept of “biological labor” from the vantage points of both fields, drawing in particular on critiques of human exceptionalism generated by scholars in animal studies, critical race studies, indigenous studies, postcolonial studies, queer and trans studies, and feminist new materialisms.

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