By Deborah Lynn Steinberg
Genes and the Bioimaginary examines the dramatic upward push and modern cultural apotheosis of 'the gene'. The publication strains not just the genetification of contemporary existence yet is additionally a trip during the advanced dating among technological know-how and tradition. on the middle of this ebook are 3 interlinked questions. the 1st issues the paradigmatic ameliorations of the 'genetics revolution': how will we comprehend the influence of 'genes' on social arenas as assorted as legislation and agriculture, politics and drugs, family tree and jurisprudence? moment, how has the language of genes come to pervade public discourse - as a lot a trope of non-public narrative as of the preferred imaginary? And 3rd, how will we achieve serious buy not just at the stipulations and outcomes of a selected technological know-how, yet on its projective seductions, the phrases of its persuasion, and the dilemmas and anxieties provoked in its wake? via a chain of illuminating case reports starting from 'gay genes' to 'Jew's genes', to genes for 'crime'; from CSI to the Innocence venture, from genetics' (post)racial imaginary to its phantasies of redemption, the e-book examines the emergence of the gene as a pre-eminent locus of either medical and social clarification, and as a robust item of spectacle, projective phantasy and attachment. Genes and the Bioimaginary makes a particular contribution to our knowing of ways wisdom involves be not just strong, yet believable.
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Extra info for Genes and the Bioimaginary: Science, Spectacle, Culture
Such a construction is suggestively reminiscent of Victorian constructions of a recalcitrant working class, defined by the contrast of its muscle to its mind to industry, efficiency and economy. Congruent with industrial logics located in more conventional settings, genes as workers are implicitly constituted as docile12 and yet resistant, as performative objects and objectified subjects in a disciplinary economy that they embody but do not own. Central, then, to Yanchinski’s utopian prognostication of mastered microbes in ‘gleaming steel’ vat-factories are genes as imagined bodies, nostalgically and narratively constituted through a discourse of class and a commercial rationality.
What is of critical importance then, are the particular narratives embedded in a particular set of scientific practices and what they suggest about the power relations accruing to that science. Focusing on a selection of what might be classified as ‘medium to high-brow’ popular science texts as a case-study, I am interested here in the representational economies surrounding genes, bodies and embodiment in three respects: the constitution of genes as bodies/embodiments, of genetics as a body of knowledge and of geneticists as a body of knowers.
Genetics, in this formulation, is both embedded in and yet disagreggated from social relations. Thus we are to understand that while genetic screening will intensify oppressions, it will also transcend them. Perhaps more to the point, the investment of such faith in the utopian fantasy of 2020 seems premised on yet another singularity. This is the notion that a science produced out of, and seen as desirable within, an unequal social order, would continue to make sense, and for the same reasons, in a profoundly altered social context.
Genes and the Bioimaginary: Science, Spectacle, Culture by Deborah Lynn Steinberg