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Wednesday 12.06.2024  

Prof. Mike Fortun

Mike Fortun is Professor in the University of California-Irvine’s Department of Anthropology. His research has centered on the history and anthropology of the life sciences in particular the contemporary science, culture, data practices, and political economy of genomics. His recent books on these topics are Genomics With Care: Minding the Double Binds of Science (Duke UP, 2023), and Promising Genomics: Iceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation (University of California Press, 2008). He is currently part of an effort to build digital humanities infrastructure that supports collaborative ethnographic research, the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography (PECE).

Genomics With Care

Double Binds and Friendship Bonds In and With the Sciences

The many social scientists and humanists who study genomics have developed pertinent, sharp, and important critical perspectives on genomics as a scientific and social enterprise, analyzing its epistemic exaggerations, its ethical blind spots or violations, its potential and sometimes real social harms and injustices. We have well-substantiated understandings of the missteps, overreaches, and transgressions of genomics and genomic scientists. Our analytic understanding of how genomics progresses, however – how it becomes a better science, and how genomic scientists learn to be more careful –remains relatively undeveloped, and depends on relatively thin ethnographic data and theory. The research I present here works toward producing that more expansive ethnographic account of genomics. I read genomics in a deconstructive style—that is, an affirmative style—to analyze how genomic scientists work through the double binds of their experimental systems. Double binds are conflicting epistemic and ethical demands which produce paradoxes that cannot be resolved but can be endured, creatively, through enactments of so-called “care.” I analyze four patterns of “care” in genomics elicited by its systemic impossibilities: curation negotiates the given/taken double bind of genomic data, scrupulousness elicits reproducible/unprecedented results in genomic experimentation, genomicists solicit their entire endeavor and its experimental practices from within/beyond, and friendship binds solicitous/agonistic relations in the genomics community.

18.00 Uhr
Otto-Stern-Zentrum (OSZ), Hörsaal 4, Campus Riedberg