Science Fiction Film & Television

Vitality and reproduction in Blade Runner 2049

Science Fiction Film & Television (2020), 13, (1), 15–35.


This article traces the connections between Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and the increasingly aggressive reach of contemporary biocapitalism, which seeks to turn even the basic building blocks of life itself into engines of profit. The film’s preoccupation with the reproductive capacity of its replicants registers and allegorises collective anxiety about this vampiric tendency in contemporary capitalism, while the posthuman subjectivity of the chief protagonist, K (Ryan Gosling) offers the possibility of a revolutionary line of flight away from the dead-ends of liberal humanism and its self-defeating focus on heteronormative family construction.

Access Token
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Works cited

Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Trans. Kevin Attell. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2004. Google Scholar

Campbell, Timothy C. Improper Life: Technology and Biopolitics from Heidegger to Agamben. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2011. Google Scholar

Cooper, Melinda. Life As Surplus: Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era. Seattle: U of Washington P, 2011. Google Scholar

Davies, Jamie A. Synthetic Biology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. Google Scholar

Day, Iyko. Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. Google Scholar

DiAngelo, Robin. White Frailty: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Boston: Beacon Hill, 2018. Google Scholar

Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 1968. New York: Del Rey, 1996. Google Scholar

Esposito, Roberto. Persons and Things: From the Body’s Point of View. Trans. Zakiya Hanafi. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. 1970. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Google Scholar

Frost, Samantha. Biocultural Creatures: Toward a New Theory of the Human. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. Google Scholar

Hamblin, Sarah and Hugh C. O’Connell. ‘Blade Runner 2049’s Incongruous Couplings: Living and Dying in the Anthropocene.’ Science Fiction Film and Television 13.1 (2020): 37–58. Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2007. Google Scholar

Hardt, Michael. ‘The Withering of Civil Society’. Social Text 45 (1995): 27–44. Google Scholar

Jasanoff, Sheila, ed. Reframing Rights: Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age. Cambridge: MIT P, 2011. Google Scholar

Lowe, Lisa. The Intimacies of Four Continents. Durham: Duke UP, 2015. Google Scholar

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Vol 1. Intro. Ernest Mandel. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1976. Google Scholar

Marx, Karl. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Trans. Martin Milligan. New York: Prometheus, 1988. Google Scholar

Marx, Karl. Grundrisse. Trans. Martin Nicolaus. London: Penguin, 1973. Google Scholar

Melamed, Jodi. ‘Racial Capitalism’. Critical Ethnic Studies 1.1 (2015): 76–85. Google Scholar

Mezzadra, Sandro and Brett Neilson. Border as Method, or, The Multiplication of Labor. Durham: Duke UP, 2013. Google Scholar

Narkunis, J. Paul. Reified Life: Speculative Capital and the Ahuman Condition. New York: Fordham UP, 2018. Google Scholar

Rabinow, Paul and Gaymon Bennett. Designing Human Practices: An Experiment with Synthetic Biology. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2012. Google Scholar

Sheldon, Rebekah. ‘Generativity without Reserve: Orphan Black, Blade Runner 2049, and the Enclosure of Life Itself’. Keynote Address, Science Fiction Research Association Annual Meeting. Marquette University. 3 Jul 2018. Google Scholar

Vint, Sherryl. ‘Speciesism and Species Being in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Mosaic 40.1 (2007): 111–26. Google Scholar

Vora, Kalindi and Neda Atanasoski. Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots and the Politics of Technological Futures. Durham: Duke UP, 2019. Google Scholar

Waldby, Catherine and Melinda Cooper. Clinical Labor: Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy. Durham: Duke UP, 2014. Google Scholar

Wegner, Phillip E. ‘We, the People of Blade Runner 2049’. Science Fiction Film and Television 13.1 (2020): 135–42. Google Scholar

Weheliye, Alexander. Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Durham: Duke UP, 2014. Google Scholar

Weinbaum, Alys Eve. The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Biocapitalism and Black Feminism’s Philosophy of History. Durham: Duke UP, 2019. Google Scholar

Wolfe, Cary. What is Posthumanism? Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2013. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Vint, Sherryl