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Archiving and Innovating Diversity: Cybergenomics Meets The Order of Things

Date: 29 May 2009 Time: 9.00 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.

Venue: The Flett Lecture Theatre,The Natural History Museum, London

Archiving and Innovating Diversity: Cybergenomics Meets The Order of Things

Natural History Museum, London

Friday 29th May 2009, 9.00 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.

Genomic and digital technologies prove to be rapidly reconfiguring the cultures and practices of the natural and life sciences. Visions of improved futures - whether these be healthy human bodies or biologically diverse natural environments - seem to develop in tandem with stringent methods to ensure both standardisation and ubiquity (of information and practice). An assumption often left unquestioned is the apparent need to speed up and democratise the creation, harvesting and circulation of information/method/technology in order to pave the way for improvement and salvation.

Nowhere is this set of conditions and expectations more evident than in the taxonomic and biodiversity sciences - those approaches seen as pivotal to the ordering, naming and hence understanding of the diversity of the natural world. The taxonomic community has recently been shaken up with the introduction of a very particular kind of cyber-genomic development, DNA barcoding - an innovation which seeks to speed up the identification and indexing of all global biodiversity as a prerequisite for avoiding apocalyptic loss.

The aim of this conference is to share insights developed through sociological/anthropological research into the Barcoding of Life Initiative with others interested in similar and different fields of (genomic) techno-scientific innovation. By bringing broader insights to bear upon this case-study in contemporary systematics, we expect the conference to open out and explore wider trends concerning cybergenomic innovation.

Issues to be raised and explored include:

visions of 'Big Science' in the systematic, nature-protection and life sciences;

similarity and difference in relation to past and present innovatory practices;

the tensions between standardisation for globality, speed and productivity, with recognition of diversity and contingency;

new (and old) materialities in play;

political economy and the innovating sciences;

new rhetorics, publics and end-users;

  • changing epistemic and other forms of (bio-)value.


Geoffrey C. Bowker: Centre for Science, Technology and Society, Santa Clara University

Rebecca Ellis: Geography Department, Lancaster University

Staffan Muller-Wille: ESRC Genomics Network, University of Exeter

Bronwyn Parry: Queen Mary College, University of London

Sujeevan Ratnasingham: Informatics Lead, Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding

David Schindel: Executive Secretary, Consortium for the Barcoding of Life, Smithsonian Institution

Claire Waterton: Sociology Department, Lancaster University

Brian Wynne: CESAGen, Lancaster University

Event website:


Who can attend: Internal


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Geography, Lancaster Environment Centre, Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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