Authors: Lipphardt, Veronika
Niewöhner, Jörg
Title: Producing difference in an age of biosociality
Other Titles: Biohistorical narratives, standardisation and resistance as translations
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: This paper brings together thinking from the history of science, science and technology studies and social/cultural anthropology to better understand how human diversity is handled in everyday practices in science and beyond. Our aim is to take the social and historical contingency of practice as a starting point and to focus on the patterning of practice, which arises from the constraints of socio-material alignments and leads to the co-production of diversity. Under the headings of race and ethnicity, sorting practices with regards to human diversity have been at the centre of anthropological thinking and critique since the age of Enlightenment. Constructivist critique has insisted on understanding "race" as a social construct and warned of reifying differences of a socio-cultural making. This critique has so far not been particularly fruitful in dealing with human biological difference as produced in different everyday practices in science and beyond. Recently, molecular genetics have reinvigorated the interest to stratify human populations into subpopulations to improve drug development and targeting, to ascertain vulnerabilities and plasticity, to adjust nutritional intake or therapeutic strategies or to trace ethnic ancestries. We suggest that the shortcomings of constructivist critique in the face of these latest developments are due to its focus on theoretical concepts and self-descriptions rather than the practices and their implicit logics within and outside science proper. By employing Hacking's concepts of 'making up people' and 'looping', Rabinow's 'biosociality', as well as Callon's concept of 'translation', we hope to show the interactive dynamics of classification and response which take place at the interface between different knowledge practices. We trace translations through the life sciences into clinical practice and beyond into different social constellations, involving medical practice, made-up people and social bodies in order to show how human diversity is produced in practice. We put an emphasis on the different roles that biohistorical narratives, standardised packages and forms of resistance and appropriation play within these constellations.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2003/26757
http://dx.doi.org/10.17877/DE290R-979
Issue Date: 2007-05
Publisher: Technische Universität Dortmund
Appears in Collections:Issue 1

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