Reordering Life: Knowledge and Control in the Genomics Revolution

MIT Press
Free sample

How the regimes governing biological research changed during the genomics revolution, focusing on the Human Genome Project.

The rise of genomics engendered intense struggle over the control of knowledge. In Reordering Life, Stephen Hilgartner examines the “genomics revolution” and develops a novel approach to studying the dynamics of change in knowledge and control. Hilgartner focuses on the Human Genome Project (HGP)—the symbolic and scientific centerpiece of the emerging field—showing how problems of governance arose in concert with new knowledge and technology. Using a theoretical framework that analyzes “knowledge control regimes,” Hilgartner investigates change in how control was secured, contested, allocated, resisted, justified, and reshaped as biological knowledge was transformed. Beyond illuminating genomics, Reordering Life sheds new light on broader issues about secrecy and openness in science, data access and ownership, and the politics of research communities.

Drawing on real-time interviews and observations made during the HGP, Reordering Life describes the sociotechnical challenges and contentious issues that the genomics community faced throughout the project. Hilgartner analyzes how laboratories control access to data, biomaterials, plans, preliminary results, and rumors; compares conflicting visions of how to impose coordinating mechanisms; examines the repeated destabilization and restabilization of the regimes governing genome databases; and examines the fierce competition between the publicly funded HGP and the private company Celera Genomics. The result is at once a path-breaking study of a self-consciously revolutionary science, and a provocative analysis of how knowledge and control are reconfigured during transformative scientific change.

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About the author

Stephen Hilgartner is Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
MIT Press
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Published on
May 19, 2017
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780262338677
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / History
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Investigations of how the understanding of heredity developed in scientific, medical, agro-industrial, and political contexts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This book examines the wide range of scientific and social arenas in which the concept of inheritance gained relevance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although genetics emerged as a scientific discipline during this period, the idea of inheritance also played a role in a variety of medical, agricultural, industrial, and political contexts.

The book, which follows an earlier collection, Heredity Produced (covering the period 1500 to 1870), addresses heredity in national debates over identity, kinship, and reproduction; biopolitical conceptions of heredity, degeneration, and gender; agro-industrial contexts for newly emerging genetic rationality; heredity and medical research; and the genealogical constructs and experimental systems of genetics that turned heredity into a representable and manipulable object. Taken together, the essays in Heredity Explored show that a history of heredity includes much more than the history of genetics, and that knowledge of heredity was always more than the knowledge formulated as Mendelism. It was the broader public discourse of heredity in all its contexts that made modern genetics possible.

Contributors
Caroline Arni, Christophe Bonneuil, Christina Brandt, Luis Campos, Jean-Paul Gaudillière, Bernd Gausemeier, Jean Gayon, Veronika Lipphardt, Ilana Löwy, J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Staffan Müller-Wille, Diane B. Paul, Theodore M. Porter, Alain Pottage, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Marsha L. Richmond, Helga Satzinger, Judy Johns Schloegel, Alexander von Schwerin, Hamish G. Spencer, Ulrike Vedder

In the life sciences and beyond, new developments in science and technology and the creation of new social orders go hand in hand. In short, science and society are simultaneously and reciprocally coproduced and changed. Scientific research not only produces new knowledge and technological systems but also constitutes new forms of expertise and contributes to the emergence of new modes of living and new forms of exchange. These dynamic processes are tightly connected to significant redistributions of wealth and power, and they sometimes threaten and sometimes enhance democracy. Understanding these phenomena poses important intellectual and normative challenges: neither traditional social sciences nor prevailing modes of democratic governance have fully grappled with the deep and growing significance of knowledge-making in twenty-first century politics and markets.

Building on new work in science and technology studies (STS), this book advances the systematic analysis of the coproduction of knowledge and power in contemporary societies. Using case studies in the new life sciences, supplemented with cases on informatics and other topics such as climate science, this book presents a theoretical framing of coproduction processes while also providing detailed empirical analyses and nuanced comparative work.

Science and Democracy: Knowledge as Wealth and Power in the Biosciences and Beyond will be interesting for students of sociology, science & technology studies, history of science, genetics, political science, and public administration.

Now that we have sequenced the human genome, what does it mean? In The Postgenomic Condition, Jenny Reardon critically examines the decade after the Human Genome Project, and the fundamental questions about meaning, value and justice this landmark achievement left in its wake.

Drawing on more than a decade of research—in molecular biology labs, commercial startups, governmental agencies, and civic spaces—Reardon demonstrates how the extensive efforts to transform genomics from high tech informatics practiced by a few to meaningful knowledge beneficial to all exposed the limits of long-cherished liberal modes of knowing and governing life. Those in the American South challenged the value of being included in genomics when no hospital served their community. Ethicists and lawyers charged with overseeing Scottish DNA and data questioned how to develop a system of ownership for these resources when their capacity to create things of value—new personalized treatments—remained largely unrealized. Molecular biologists who pioneered genomics asked whether their practices of thinking could survive the deluge of data produced by the growing power of sequencing machines. While the media is filled with grand visions of precision medicine, The Postgenomic Condition shares these actual challenges of the scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, bioethicists, lawyers, and patient advocates who sought to leverage liberal democratic practices to render genomic data a new source of meaning and value for interpreting and caring for life. It brings into rich empirical focus the resulting hard on-the-ground questions about how to know and live on a depleted but data-rich, interconnected yet fractured planet, where technoscience garners significant resources, but deeper questions of knowledge and justice urgently demand attention.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A paradigm-shifting book from an acclaimed Harvard Medical School scientist and one of Time’s most influential people.

It’s a seemingly undeniable truth that aging is inevitable. But what if everything we’ve been taught to believe about aging is wrong? What if we could choose our lifespan?

In this groundbreaking book, Dr. David Sinclair, leading world authority on genetics and longevity, reveals a bold new theory for why we age. As he writes: “Aging is a disease, and that disease is treatable.”

This eye-opening and provocative work takes us to the frontlines of research that is pushing the boundaries on our perceived scientific limitations, revealing incredible breakthroughs—many from Dr. David Sinclair’s own lab at Harvard—that demonstrate how we can slow down, or even reverse, aging. The key is activating newly discovered vitality genes, the descendants of an ancient genetic survival circuit that is both the cause of aging and the key to reversing it. Recent experiments in genetic reprogramming suggest that in the near future we may not just be able to feel younger, but actually become younger.

Through a page-turning narrative, Dr. Sinclair invites you into the process of scientific discovery and reveals the emerging technologies and simple lifestyle changes—such as intermittent fasting, cold exposure, exercising with the right intensity, and eating less meat—that have been shown to help us live younger and healthier for longer. At once a roadmap for taking charge of our own health destiny and a bold new vision for the future of humankind, Lifespan will forever change the way we think about why we age and what we can do about it.
The Handbook provides an essential resource at the interface of Genomics, Health and Society, and forms a crucial research tool for both new students and established scholars across biomedicine and social sciences. Building from and extending the first Routledge Handbook of Genetics and Society, the book offers a comprehensive introduction to pivotal themes within the field, an overview of the current state of the art knowledge on genomics, science and society, and an outline of emerging areas of research.

Key themes addressed include the way genomic based DNA technologies have become incorporated into diverse arenas of clinical practice and research whilst also extending beyond the clinic; the role of genomics in contemporary ‘bioeconomies’; how challenges in the governance of medical genomics can both reconfigure and stabilise regulatory processes and jurisdictional boundaries; how questions of diversity and justice are situated across different national and transnational terrains of genomic research; and how genomics informs – and is shaped by – developments in fields such as epigenetics, synthetic biology, stem cell, microbial and animal model research.

Chapter 13 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license. https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/doi/10.4324/9781315451695-13

Chapter 28 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license. https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/doi/10.4324/9781315451695-28

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