agrostologist: A scientist who studies the branch of botany concerned with grasses.
alloplastic: A term used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to describe the social and cultural stratum.
anticolonial: A position held by a person or a country that opposes colonialism.
applied ethics of matter: A way of putting one’s ontological and ethical positions into action.
assemblage: An “assemblage” holds a heterogeneous collection of components or elements together through complex sets of relations. It is also an ontological framework developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to understand the multiple couplings and various combinations of bodies, expressions, institutions, and signs.
becoming: This philosophical concept emphasizes the capacities of flux and change, where the properties and components of nature are understood in terms of process and events.
bench science: Scientific research that is conducted in a laboratory at a bench.
biophilosophies of becoming: An ontological approach to thinking about the properties and components of nature as they relate to our research in biology and our approach to biological matter.
bodies without organs (BwO): A phrase used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari that is not a stance against organs themselves. It is an attempt to think in a way that does not organize and produce boundaries around objects, but rather opens up our thought to the possibilities of broader connections and intensities (dis-organ-ization).
continental philosophy: Philosophical traditions that emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries out of Europe.
cosmopolitics: A term used by Isabelle Stengers to describe an approach that does not avoid risks while working toward an experimental togetherness between two different communities of knowers.
deterritorialization: The act of thinking otherwise and questioning those modes of analysis that claim to hold a position of organized or authoritative knowledge.
epigenetics: Literally meaning “that which is above the gene,” epigenetics is the study of how heritable traits can be modified by nongenetic and/or environmental factors.
epistemology: The theory of how we know what we know.
essentialism: The belief that there is a real and invariable nature at the root of any given thing.
estrogens: A group of steroid hormones derived from cholesterol that plays a role in growth, development, and reproductive functions.
ethico-onto-epistemological: A term used by Karen Barad to describe the simultaneous events of learning how to see the world, learning how we come to know the world, and thinking about how we learn to approach that world.
feeling around for the organism: The book puts forward this approach as a way to think about our encounters with the world. It belongs to a group of microphysiologies of desire proposed throughout the book that serves as an applied ethics of matter. It is a way to think about the relationship between the knower and the known.
haecceity: A Latin-derived term that Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari use to describe an event that exists on a plane of immanence.
humanism: A system of thought whereby humans as well as their actions, values, and interests are placed at the center of inquiry.
hylomorphism: A tradition of philosophical thought that views matter as being passive or inert until it assumes a pre-given form.
hylozoism: A tradition of philosophical thought that recognizes the expression of certain capacities in all forms of matter.
immanence: Central to Gilles Deleuze’s ontology, this concept puts forth the idea that all becomings exist beside or with other becomings upon a horizontal plane of immanence. This concept is contrasted with the concept of transcendence, which Deleuze associates with a Platonic and hierarchical distinction between matter and form and with fixed or essentialized traits.
immunostaining: An antibody-based method used to detect a specific protein in a sample.
intra-action: This term, used by Karen Barad, describes the mutual constitution of agents that are always entangled with each other.
in vitro: A process that takes place outside of a living organism or body. Throughout this book in vitro refers to scientific research that takes place within cell cultures rather than in whole animal models.
kinship: A relation made possible by developing connections and ties with others. Rather than seeing genetic or blood relations as the only way to form kin, feminist scholars have expanded the scope of who and what we are able to connect with and respond to and thus consider to be kin.
machinic assemblage: Similar to an assemblage, the machine assemblage is more about an approach to thinking rather than actual machines. It considers the monstrous couplings of heterogeneous components that go into the making of all actants.
major/majoritarian: Belonging to a well-established or dominant mode of thought.
materialism: Theories that deal with matter and/or material goods and place significance on their roles in constituting all phenomena.
metaphysics: This branch of philosophy deals with such ideas as cosmology, being (ontology), and knowledge (epistemology).
microphysiologies of desire: This term describes the approaches we use to move forward in our encounters with others. Microphysiologies of desire provide frameworks for putting our ethical positions into action. They are related to biophilosophies of becoming in the sense that ontology and ethics are also always related, if not the same thing. All microphysiologies of desire work by helping us to (1) cultivate an openness to nonhuman becomings and the capacity for changefulness; (2) make connections through kinship and sensing hylozoism; and (3) create movement by way of univocity and immanence.
micropolitics: Refers to those politics that do not follow our dominant habits or usual modes of engagement.
minimal genome organism: An organism whose genome has been reduced to a bare minimum number of genes required for growth and division of that organism.
minor/minoritarian: Belonging to a less explored or marginalized mode of thought.
molar: In chemistry this pertains to a solution containing one mole of a solute per liter of solution. A term also used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to describe an ontology of being that is tied to fixed identities.
molecular: Relating to molecules, this term used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari describes an ontology of becoming that examines actants in terms of processes. Also used to describe minoritarian projects or politics.
monism: A concept that attributes a oneness to nature.
naturecultures: Coined by Donna Haraway, this term describes the commingling and co-constitutive properties of all things previously considered to be separate through such categories as nature and culture.
neuroendocrinology: A branch of the life sciences that studies the physiological interactions between the nervous system and hormones of the endocrine system.
onto-ethical: A term used to describe the idea that our theories on how to come to see the world are in and of themselves also always about questions of ethics, or questions about how to approach and treat that world.
ontology: A theory of being, or in the case of Gilles Deleuze and other philosophers, a theory of becoming. In other words, a theory of how we come to be and how we see the world.
Petri dish: A transparent, circular, and flat dish that is used to support cell cultures and/or study microorganisms in the lab.
plasmid: A small and circular double-stranded piece of DNA that is distinct from an organism’s chromosomal DNA. Plasmids are generally found in bacteria.
postcolonial: Refers to the period following colonialism but also the study of the political, institutional, and cultural effects of colonialism and imperialism.
posthumanism: Although this term can be understood as meaning after or beyond the human, it is also a field of scholarly inquiry that is critical of humanism and attempts to decenter the human and human values and interest from our inquiries.
process ontology: A theory of being that is based on the idea that all beings are becomings and that there is a dynamic nature to all entities.
receptor: A protein structure that binds with substances such as hormones, drugs, or neurotransmitters.
rhizome: A continuously growing horizontal stem that grows underground and that can produce shoots and roots leading to the generation of new plants.
stolon: Also referred to as a runner in agricultural terms, the stolon is a stem system that grows above ground by developing new shoots and extending itself horizontally. The stems of a stoloniferous plant grow by sensing light and sending out aerial shoots. Other than cespitose grasses, all other grasses grow as rhizomes or stolons. Whereas rhizomes grow beneath the surface of the soil, stolons grow and move above ground.
strata/stratification: Terms used by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to describe a kind of grouping or a process of taking on particular forms and expressions.
subcloning: A recombinant DNA technology used to amplify a short segment of DNA by inserting it into a vector or plasmid that can be further replicated.
symbiosis: An evolutionary theory developed by Lynn Margulis that describes how the relationships between different organisms are the driving force of evolution.
synthetic biology: A field of research that brings together advances in biology, chemistry, genetics, computer science, and engineering to provide toolkits for the design of biological systems.
taxonomy: The science and practices of classification.
transcendence: Although this term has several meanings, it is used here in the Deleuzian sense of being superior to or surpassing a level of existence and/or expression. Rather than immanence, which is understood as remaining with or beside something, “transcendence” is understood as being that is beyond or outside.
transcription: The process whereby DNA serves as a template for the production of messenger RNA.
transgenic: A term used to describe an organism that contains genetic material from another organism. Also describes the technologies used to introduce foreign genes.
translation: The process whereby messenger RNA is used to form a chain of nucleotides that in turn become a protein.
transpositions: The process of horizontal transfer of genetic materials between organisms. The process of “jumping genes” and the existence of transposable elements or transposons was discovered by Barbara McClintock.
univocity: A concept that everything shares a kind of oneness. This oneness does not mean that everything is identical or that there is no chance for differences, but rather that everything exists on a single or on a continuous ontological field.