This paper analyzes the placenta's biological and ontological underpinnings in human affectivity as it is generated. The placenta as medial boundary constitutes a place for the encounter and becoming of mother and child, not only as sapient beings, but also in their very nature. Before and beyond the difference between self and other, the placenta offers a model of affective symbiogenesis where selves come into existence in and through the very materiality of one another, contradicting the presumed "immunitary logic of selfpreservation."
The section on placental (re)presentation crafts a placentology that accounts for the possibility of ontogenetic becoming in the mother-child-placenta triad, a becoming that breaks with a linear genetic history of origin and authenticity to shape what I call the pregnant city. The paper continues by discussing the placenta's place and boundary function to explain the place-making capacities that allow the realities of mother and child to co-emerge. The paper concludes by discussing the hospitality offered by the placenta, and how, even after its factual "demise," the placenta prominently remains present through its traces. The placenta's residue in the form of microchimeric, ritualized, and social traces reminds us that organisms are all but static, but rather thoroughly mixed, prone to change, and full of specters of future possibilities. Thus, the placenta and its enduring traces encourage us to rethink the nature of our intertwined, constantly altering identities, and to reinstall the original hospitality made possible by the placenta.
From: Configurations Volume 25, Number 3, Summer 2017 pp. 347-371 | 10.1353/con.2017.0023