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Re-ordering and re-making the BIO in contemporary technoscience and design: reflections from STS and beyond

Date: 18 October 2012 Time: 10.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

Venue: EASST/4S Conference Copenhagen 17- 20th October 2012

Re-ordering and re-making the BIO in contemporary technoscience and design: reflections from STS and beyond

Open Panel Organizers Rebecca Ellis, r.ellis@lancaster.ac.uk; Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University andClaire Waterton, c.waterton@lancaster.ac.uk; Centre for the Study of Environmental Change (CSEC), Department of Sociology, Lancaster University

This 'open panel' eventconsisted of a series of four seminar-like sessions within the EASST/4S meeting in CopenhagenOctober 2012. Itinvited reflection on STS work on the contemporary (re)ordering and (re) making of the bio-. Innovations in synthetic biology, cybergenomic taxonomy, DIY-BIO, proteomics etc. have attracted a range of studies documenting and analysing the proliferation and reclassification of life forms (parts and wholes) as an assortment of bodied manifestations (Helmreich 2009). STS research assumes that no normative position on socio-natural ordering can be justified by reference to 'nature', life or the biological: nature's unstable forms are also socially, culturally and historically contingent. As biological forms are refracted and re-designed through new techno-scientific possibilities, however, the question of life's possible independence from human interventions is being revisited (Clark, Hird). The panel organisers note a striving, amongst STS and cognate disciplines, for a collective ethics around nature, the natural and the biological, that accepts the social, cultural and historical contingency of life forms, whilst also trying to imagine new forms of responsibility and relation (including non-relation).Thus a creative tension is in the air, reflected in studies witnessing the (re-)making, understanding, collecting, counting, saving, owning and commodifying of life forms and the increasing complexity and multiplicity of our relations with them.

The panel invited papers about extending our ideas of life, designing new life, finding new registers and orders of life and new ways of making life matter, whilst keeping alive questions such as: Why the category of life has recently been attributed such fresh importance? What role has technoscientific innovation, design and experiment had in creating this focus? How are existing forms of life and companion species understood, suppressed, ignored, deleted, or honoured by technoscientific ambitions and concerns? Can studies address the relationship between acknowledging contingency yet accepting modest responsibility for the natural, the bio, or life itself?

The Open Panel was organised into 4 sessions and consisted of 16 papers by scholars from North America and Europe:

Session 1. Entanglement, affect and transformation in, and with, life

Session 2: Life's temporal and material frontiers

Session 3: A scripted emergence for life?

Session 4: Re-shaping, reclassifying, unsettling, life

For more information on the authors and their papers see http://4sonline.org/files/program_prelim_abstracts_120918.pdf, sessions 010, 037, 132 and161.

We hope to buiold more work along this theme in 2013.

Contact:

Who can attend: Anyone

 

Further information

Associated staff: Rebecca Ellis, Claire Waterton

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

Keywords: Biodiversity, Biopolitics, Design, Materiality, Science and technology studies

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