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Aglow in the Dark
The Revolutionary Science of Biofluorescence
Vincent Pieribone and David F. Gruber
Harvard University Press, 2005

In the early 1960s, in a small shack on the Washington coast, a young, self-educated Japanese scientist performed an experiment to determine what made a certain jellyfish glow. The substance he discovered, green fluorescent protein, would revolutionize molecular biology, transforming our study of everything from the AIDS virus to the workings of the brain. Aglow in the Dark follows the path that took this glowing compound from its inauspicious arrival on the scientific scene to its present-day eminence as one of the most groundbreaking discoveries of the twentieth century.

The story unfolds in far-flung places, from the coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean, to the medical schools and marine stations of our leading universities, to a cold war-era research laboratory in Moscow. Traversing the globe and the decades, Aglow in the Dark conveys the human fascination with bioluminescence, or "living light," its little-known application in war, forensic science, and molecular biology, and how it led to the finding of green fluorescent protein. The book reveals a hidden world where light is manipulated by animals and humans and put to remarkable uses--unlocking the secrets of the human brain, conquering dreaded diseases, and perhaps someday linking minds and machines. The authors deftly lead the reader through a complex story at the interface of biology and physics--and into the realm of wonder on the frontiers of scientific endeavor.

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Altered Inheritance
CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing
Françoise Baylis
Harvard University Press, 2019

A leading bioethicist offers critical insights into the scientific, ethical, and political implications of human genome editing.

Designer babies, once found only in science fiction, have become a reality. We are entering a new era of human evolution with the advent of a technology called CRISPR, which allows scientists to modify our genes. Although CRISPR shows great promise for therapeutic use, it raises thorny ethical, legal, political, and societal concerns because it can be used to make permanent changes to future generations. What if changes intended for the good turn out to have unforeseen negative effects? What if the divide between the haves and have-nots widens as a result? Who decides whether we genetically modify human beings and, if so, how?

Françoise Baylis insists that we must all have a role in determining our future as a species. The scientists who develop and use genome-editing tools should not be the only ones making decisions about future uses of the technology. Such decisions must be the fruit of a broad societal consensus. Baylis argues that it is in our collective interest to assess and steer the development and implementation of biomedical technologies. Members of the public with different interests and diverse perspectives must be among the decision makers; only in this way can we ensure that societal concerns are taken into account and that responsible decisions are made. We must be engaged and informed, think critically, and raise our voices as we create our future together.

Sharp, rousing, timely, and thought-provoking, Altered Inheritance is essential reading. The future of humanity is in our hands.

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Asian Biotech
Ethics and Communities of Fate
Aihwa Ong and Nancy N. Chen, eds.
Duke University Press, 2010
Providing the first overview of Asia’s emerging biosciences landscape, this timely and important collection brings together ethnographic case studies on biotech endeavors such as genetically modified foods in China, clinical trials in India, blood collection in Singapore and China, and stem-cell research in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. While biotech policies and projects vary by country, the contributors identify a significant trend toward state entrepreneurialism in biotechnology, and they highlight the ways that political thinking and ethical reasoning are converging around the biosciences. As ascendant nations in a region of postcolonial emergence, with an “uncanny surplus” in population and pandemics, Asian countries treat their populations as sources of opportunity and risk. Biotech enterprises are allied to efforts to overcome past humiliations and restore national identity and political ambition, and they are legitimized as solutions to national anxieties about food supplies, diseases, epidemics, and unknown biological crises in the future. Biotechnological responses to perceived risks stir deep feelings about shared fate, and they crystallize new ethical configurations, often re-inscribing traditional beliefs about ethnicity, nation, and race. As many of the essays in this collection illustrate, state involvement in biotech initiatives is driving the emergence of “biosovereignty,” an increasing pressure for state control over biological resources, commercial health products, corporate behavior, and genetic based-identities. Asian Biotech offers much-needed analysis of the interplay among biotechnologies, economic growth, biosecurity, and ethical practices in Asia.

Contributors
Vincanne Adams
Nancy N. Chen
Stefan Ecks
Kathleen Erwin
Phuoc V. Le
Jennifer Liu
Aihwa Ong
Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner
Kaushik Sunder Rajan
Wen-Ching Sung
Charis Thompson
Ara Wilson

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Biobazaar
The Open Source Revolution and Biotechnology
Janet Hope
Harvard University Press, 2008

Fighting disease, combating hunger, preserving the balance of life on Earth: the future of biotechnological innovation may well be the future of our planet itself. And yet the vexed state of intellectual property law—a proliferation of ever more complex rights governing research and development—is complicating this future. At a similar point in the development of information technology, “open source” software revolutionized the field, simultaneously encouraging innovation and transforming markets. The question that Janet Hope explores in Biobazaar is: can the open source approach do for biotechnology what it has done for information technology? Her book is the first sustained and systematic inquiry into the application of open source principles to the life sciences.

The appeal of the open source approach—famously likened to a “bazaar,” in contrast to the more traditional “cathedral” style of technology development—lies in its safeguarding of community access to proprietary tools without discouraging valuable commercial participation. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, Hope presents a careful analysis of intellectual property-related challenges confronting the biotechnology industry and then paints a detailed picture of “open source biotechnology” as a possible solution. With insights drawn from interviews with Nobel Prize–winning scientists and leaders of the free and open source software movement—as well as company executives, international policymakers, licensing experts, and industry analysts—her book suggests that open source biotechnology is both desirable and broadly feasible—and, in many ways, merely awaiting its moment.

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Biocapital
The Constitution of Postgenomic Life
Kaushik Sunder Rajan
Duke University Press, 2006
Biocapital is a major theoretical contribution to science studies and political economy. Grounding his analysis in a multi-sited ethnography of genomic research and drug development marketplaces in the United States and India, Kaushik Sunder Rajan argues that contemporary biotechnologies such as genomics can only be understood in relation to the economic markets within which they emerge. Sunder Rajan conducted fieldwork in biotechnology labs and in small start-up companies in the United States (mostly in the San Francisco Bay area) and India (mainly in New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bombay) over a five-year period spanning 1999 to 2004. He draws on his research with scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and policymakers to compare drug development in the two countries, examining the practices and goals of research, the financing mechanisms, the relevant government regulations, and the hype and marketing surrounding promising new technologies. In the process, he illuminates the global flow of ideas, information, capital, and people connected to biotech initiatives.

Sunder Rajan’s ethnography informs his theoretically sophisticated inquiry into how the contemporary world is shaped by the marriage of biotechnology and market forces, by what he calls technoscientific capitalism. Bringing Marxian theories of value into conversation with Foucaultian notions of biopolitics, he traces how the life sciences came to be significant producers of both economic and epistemic value in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first.

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Bio-Imperialism
Disease, Terror, and the Construction of National Fragility
Gwen Shuni D'Arcangelis
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Bio-Imperialism focuses on an understudied dimension of the war on terror: the fight against bioterrorism. This component of the war enlisted the biosciences and public health fields to build up the U.S. biodefense industry and U.S. global disease control. The book argues that U.S. imperial ambitions drove these shifts in focus, aided by gendered and racialized discourses on terrorism, disease, and science. These narratives helped rationalize American research expansion into dangerous germs and bioweapons in the name of biodefense and bolstered the U.S. rationale for increased interference in the disease control decisions of Global South nations. Bio-Imperialism is a sobering look at how the war on terror impacted the world in ways that we are only just starting to grapple with.
 
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Biology Is Technology
The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life
Robert H. Carlson
Harvard University Press, 2011

Technology is a process and a body of knowledge as much as a collection of artifacts. Biology is no different—and we are just beginning to comprehend the challenges inherent in the next stage of biology as a human technology. It is this critical moment, with its wide-ranging implications, that Robert Carlson considers in Biology Is Technology. He offers a uniquely informed perspective on the endeavors that contribute to current progress in this area—the science of biological systems and the technology used to manipulate them.

In a number of case studies, Carlson demonstrates that the development of new mathematical, computational, and laboratory tools will facilitate the engineering of biological artifacts—up to and including organisms and ecosystems. Exploring how this will happen, with reference to past technological advances, he explains how objects are constructed virtually, tested using sophisticated mathematical models, and finally constructed in the real world.

Such rapid increases in the power, availability, and application of biotechnology raise obvious questions about who gets to use it, and to what end. Carlson’s thoughtful analysis offers rare insight into our choices about how to develop biological technologies and how these choices will determine the pace and effectiveness of innovation as a public good.

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Biomedia
Eugene Thacker
University of Minnesota Press, 2004

The merging of computer science and molecular biology, genetic codes and computer codes

As biotechnology defines the new millennium, genetic codes and computer codes increasingly merge—life understood as data, flesh rendered programmable. Where this trend will take us, and what it might mean, is what concerns Eugene Thacker in this timely book, a penetrating look into the intersection of molecular biology and computer science in our day and its likely ramifications for the future.

Integrating approaches from science and media studies, Biomedia is a critical analysis of research fields that explore relationships between biologies and technologies, between genetic and computer “codes.” In doing so, the book looks beyond the familiar examples of cloning, genetic engineering, and gene therapy—fields based on the centrality of DNA or genes—to emerging fields in which “life” is often understood as “information.” Focusing especially on interactions between genetic and computer codes, or between “life” and “information,” Thacker shows how each kind of “body” produced—from biochip to DNA computer—demonstrates how molecular biology and computer science are interwoven to provide unique means of understanding and controlling living matter.Throughout, Thacker provides in-depth accounts of theoretical issues implicit in biotechnical artifacts—issues that arise in the fields of bioinformatics, proteomics, systems biology, and biocomputing. Research in biotechnology, Biomedia suggests, flouts our assumptions about the division between biological and technological systems. New ways of thinking about this division are needed if we are to understand the cultural, social, and philosophical dimensions of such research, and this book marks a significant advance in the coming intellectual revolution.
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Biomedicalization
Technoscience, Health, and Illness in the U.S.
Adele E. Clarke, Laura Mamo, Jennifer Ruth Fosket, Jennifer R. Fishman, and Janet K. Shim, eds.
Duke University Press, 2010
The rise of Western scientific medicine fully established the medical sector of the U.S. political economy by the end of the Second World War, the first “social transformation of American medicine.” Then, in an ongoing process called medicalization, the jurisdiction of medicine began expanding, redefining certain areas once deemed moral, social, or legal problems (such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and obesity) as medical problems. The editors of this important collection argue that since the mid-1980s, dramatic, and especially technoscientific, changes in the constitution, organization, and practices of contemporary biomedicine have coalesced into biomedicalization, the second major transformation of American medicine. This volume offers in-depth analyses and case studies along with the groundbreaking essay in which the editors first elaborated their theory of biomedicalization.

Contributors. Natalie Boero, Adele E. Clarke, Jennifer R. Fishman, Jennifer Ruth Fosket, Kelly Joyce, Jonathan Kahn, Laura Mamo, Jackie Orr, Elianne Riska, Janet K. Shim, Sara Shostak

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Biophysical Models and Applications in Ecosystem Analysis
Chen, Jiquan
Michigan State University Press, 2021
The past five decades have witnessed a rapid growth of computer models for simulating ecosystem functions and dynamics. This has been fueled by the availability of remote sensing data, computation capability, and cross-disciplinary knowledge. These models contain many submodules for simulating different processes and forcing mechanisms, albeit it has become challenging to truly understand the details due to their complexity. Most ecosystem models, fortunately, are rooted in a few core biophysical foundations, such as the widely recognized Farquhar model, Ball-Berry-Leuning and Medlyn family models, Penman-Monteith equation, Priestley-Taylor model, and Michaelis-Menten kinetics. After an introduction of biophysical essentials, four chapters present the core algorithms and their behaviors in modeling ecosystem production, respiration, evapotranspiration, and global warming potentials. Each chapter is composed of a brief introduction of the literature, in which model algorithms, their assumptions, and performances are described in detail. Spreadsheet (or Python codes) templates are included in each chapter for modeling exercises with different input parameters as online materials, which include datasets, parameter estimation, and real-world applications (e.g., calculations of global warming potentials). Users can also apply their own datasets. The materials included in this volume serve as effective tools for users to understand model behaviors and uses with specified conditions and in situ applications. 
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Biotechnology and Society
An Introduction
Hallam Stevens
University of Chicago Press, 2016
With Biotechnology and Society, Hallam Stevens offers an up-to-date primer to help us understand the interactions of biotechnology and society and the debates, controversies, fears, and hopes that have shaped how we think about bodies, organisms, and life in the twenty-first century. Stevens addresses such topics as genetically modified foods, cloning, and stem cells; genetic testing and the potential for discrimination; fears of (and, in some cases, hopes for) designer babies; personal genomics; biosecurity; and biotech art. Taken as a whole, the book presents a clear, authoritative picture of the relationship between biotechnology and society today, and how our conceptions (and misconceptions) of it could shape future developments. It is an essential volume for students and scholars working with biotechnology, while still being accessible to the general reader interested in the truth behind breathless media accounts about biotech’s promise and perils.
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Biotechnology and the Human Good
C. Ben Mitchell, Edmund D. Pellegrino, Jean Bethke Elshtain, John F. Kilner, and Scott B. Rae
Georgetown University Press, 2007

Some of humankind's greatest tools have been forged in the research laboratory. Who could argue that medical advances like antibiotics, blood transfusions, and pacemakers have not improved the quality of people's lives? But with each new technological breakthrough there comes an array of consequences, at once predicted and unpredictable, beneficial and hazardous.

Outcry over recent developments in the reproductive and genetic sciences has revealed deep fissures in society's perception of biotechnical progress. Many are concerned that reckless technological development, driven by consumerist impulses and greedy entrepreneurialism, has the potential to radically shift the human condition—and not for the greater good. Biotechnology and the Human Good builds a case for a stewardship deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian theism to responsibly interpret and assess new technologies in a way that answers this concern.

The authors jointly recognize humans not as autonomous beings but as ones accountable to each other, to the world they live in, and to God. They argue that to question and critique how fields like cybernetics, nanotechnology, and genetics might affect our future is not anti-science, anti-industry, or anti-progress, but rather a way to promote human flourishing, common sense, and good stewardship.

A synthetic work drawing on the thought of a physician, ethicists, and a theologian, Biotechnology and the Human Good reminds us that although technology is a powerful and often awe-inspiring tool, it is what lies in the heart and soul of who wields this tool that truly makes the difference in our world.

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The Black Box of Biology
A History of the Molecular Revolution
Michel Morange
Harvard University Press, 2020

In this masterful account, a historian of science surveys the molecular biology revolution, its origin and continuing impact.

Since the 1930s, a molecular vision has been transforming biology. Michel Morange provides an incisive and overarching history of this transformation, from the early attempts to explain organisms by the structure of their chemical components, to the birth and consolidation of genetics, to the latest technologies and discoveries enabled by the new science of life. Morange revisits A History of Molecular Biology and offers new insights from the past twenty years into his analysis.

The Black Box of Biology shows that what led to the incredible transformation of biology was not a simple accumulation of new results, but the molecularization of a large part of biology. In fact, Morange argues, the greatest biological achievements of the past few decades should still be understood within the molecular paradigm. What has happened is not the displacement of molecular biology by other techniques and avenues of research, but rather the fusion of molecular principles and concepts with those of other disciplines, including genetics, physics, structural chemistry, and computational biology. This has produced decisive changes, including the discoveries of regulatory RNAs, the development of massive scientific programs such as human genome sequencing, and the emergence of synthetic biology, systems biology, and epigenetics.

Original, persuasive, and breathtaking in its scope, The Black Box of Biology sets a new standard for the history of the ongoing molecular revolution.

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Brutes or Angels
Human Possibility in the Age of Biotechnology
James T. Bradley
University of Alabama Press, 2013
A guide to the rapidly progressing Age of Biotechnology, Brutes or Angels provides basic information on a wide array of new technologies in the life sciences, along with the ethical issues raised by each

With stem cell research, Dolly the cloned sheep, in vitro fertilization, age retardation, and pharmaceutical mind enhancement, humankind is now faced with decisions that it has never before had to consider. The thoughtfulness, or lack of it, that we bring to those decisions will largely determine the future character of the living world.
 
Brutes or Angels will facilitate informed choice making about the personal use of biotechnologies and the formulation of public policies governing their development and use. Ten biotechnologies that impact humans are considered: stem cell research, embryo selection, human genomics, gene therapies, human reproductive cloning, age retardation, cognition enhancement, the engineering of nonhuman organisms, nanobiology, and synthetic biology.
 
With deft and assured use of metaphors, analogies, diagrams, and photographs, James T. Bradley introduces important biological principles and the basic procedures used in biotechnology. Various ethical issues--personhood, personal identity, privacy, ethnic discrimination, distributive justice, authenticity and human nature, and the significance of mortality in the human life cycle--are presented in a clear and unbiased manner. Personal reflection and group dialogue are encouraged by questions at the end of each chapter, making this book not only a general guide to better informed and nuanced thinking on these complex and challenging topics but also an appropriate text for bioethics courses in university science departments and for adult education classes.
 
Standing at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with burgeoning abilities to enhance and even create life in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago, humans have an awesome responsibility to themselves and other species. Brutes or Angels invites us to engage each other in meaningful dialogue by listening, gathering information, formulating thoughtful views, and remaining open to new knowledge and ethical argumentation.
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Claiming Power Over Life
Religion and Biotechnology Policy
Mark J. Hanson, Editor
Georgetown University Press, 2001

Developments in biotechnology, such as cloning and the decoding of the human genome, are generating questions and choices that traditionally have fallen within the realm of religion and philosophy: the definition of human life, human vs. divine control of nature, the relationship between human and non-human life, and the intentional manipulation of the mechanisms of life and death.

In Claiming Power over Life, eight contributors challenge policymakers to recognize the value of religious views on biotechnology and discuss how best to integrate the wisdom of the Christian and Jewish traditions into public policy debates. Arguing that civic discourse on the subject has been impoverished by an inability to accommodate religious insights productively, they identify the ways in which religious thought can contribute to policymaking. Likewise, the authors challenge religious leaders and scholars to learn about biotechnology, address the central issues it raises, and participate constructively in the moral debates it engenders.

The book will be of value to policymakers, religious leaders, ethicists, and all those interested in issues surrounding the intersection of religion and biotechnology policy.

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Corporate Crops
Biotechnology, Agriculture, and the Struggle for Control
By Gabriela Pechlaner
University of Texas Press, 2012

Biotechnology crop production area increased from 1.7 million hectares to 148 million hectares worldwide between 1996 to 2010. While genetically modified food is a contentious issue, the debates are usually limited to health and environmental concerns, ignoring the broader questions of social control that arise when food production methods become corporate-owned intellectual property. Drawing on legal documents and dozens of interviews with farmers and other stakeholders, Corporate Crops covers four case studies based around litigation between biotechnology corporations and farmers. Pechlaner investigates the extent to which the proprietary aspects of biotechnologies—from patents on seeds to a plethora of new rules and contractual obligations associated with the technologies—are reorganizing crop production.

The lawsuits include patent infringement litigation launched by Monsanto against a Saskatchewan canola farmer who, in turn, claimed his crops had been involuntarily contaminated by the company’s GM technology; a class action application by two Saskatchewan organic canola farmers launched against Monsanto and Aventis (later Bayer) for the loss of their organic market due to contamination with GMOs; and two cases in Mississippi in which Monsanto sued farmers for saving seeds containing its patented GM technology. Pechlaner argues that well-funded corporate lawyers have a decided advantage over independent farmers in the courts and in creating new forms of power and control in agricultural production. Corporate Crops demonstrates the effects of this intersection between the courts and the fields where profits, not just a food supply, are reaped.

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The Cuban Cure
Reason and Resistance in Global Science
S. M. Reid-Henry
University of Chicago Press, 2010

After Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, his second declaration, after socialism, was that Cuba would become a leader in international science. In biotechnology he would be proven right and, today, Cuba counts a meningitis B vaccine and cutting-edge cancer therapies to its name. But how did this politically and geographically isolated country make such impressive advances? Drawing on a unique ethnography, and blending the insights of anthropology, sociology, and geography, The Cuban Cure shows how Cuba came to compete with U. S. pharmaceutical giants—despite a trade embargo and crippling national debt.

            In uncovering what is distinct about Cuban biomedical science, S. M. Reid-Henry examines the forms of resistance that biotechnology research in Cuba presents to the globalization of western models of scientific culture and practice. He illustrates the epistemic, social, and ideological clashes that take place when two cultures of research meet, and how such interactions develop as political and economic circumstances change. Through a novel argument about the intersection of socioeconomic systems and the nature of innovation, The Cuban Cure presents an illuminating study of politics and science in the context of globalization.

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Cultivating Knowledge
Biotechnology, Sustainability, and the Human Cost of Cotton Capitalism in India
Andrew Flachs
University of Arizona Press, 2019
A single seed is more than just the promise of a plant. In rural south India, seeds represent diverging paths toward a sustainable livelihood. Development programs and global agribusiness promote genetically modified seeds and organic certification as a path toward more sustainable cotton production, but these solutions mask a complex web of economic, social, political, and ecological issues that may have consequences as dire as death.

In Cultivating Knowledge anthropologist Andrew Flachs shows how rural farmers come to plant genetically modified or certified organic cotton, sometimes during moments of agrarian crisis. Interweaving ethnographic detail, discussions of ecological knowledge, and deep history, Flachs uncovers the unintended consequences of new technologies, which offer great benefits to some—but at others’ expense. Flachs shows that farmers do not make simple cost-benefit analyses when evaluating new technologies and options. Their evaluation of development is a complex and shifting calculation of social meaning, performance, economics, and personal aspiration. Only by understanding this complicated nexus can we begin to understand sustainable agriculture.

By comparing the experiences of farmers engaged with these mutually exclusive visions for the future of agriculture, Cultivating Knowledge investigates the human responses to global agrarian change. It illuminates the local impact of global changes: the slow, persistent dangers of pesticides, inequalities in rural life, the aspirations of people who grow fibers sent around the world, the place of ecological knowledge in modern agriculture, and even the complex threat of suicide. It all begins with a seed.

 
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Culturing Life
How Cells Became Technologies
Hannah Landecker
Harvard University Press, 2010

How did cells make the journey, one we take so much for granted, from their origin in living bodies to something that can be grown and manipulated on artificial media in the laboratory, a substantial biomass living outside a human body, plant, or animal? This is the question at the heart of Hannah Landecker's book. She shows how cell culture changed the way we think about such central questions of the human condition as individuality, hybridity, and even immortality and asks what it means that we can remove cells from the spatial and temporal constraints of the body and "harness them to human intention."

Rather than focus on single discrete biotechnologies and their stories--embryonic stem cells, transgenic animals--Landecker documents and explores the wider genre of technique behind artificial forms of cellular life. She traces the lab culture common to all those stories, asking where it came from and what it means to our understanding of life, technology, and the increasingly blurry boundary between them. The technical culture of cells has transformed the meaning of the term "biological," as life becomes disembodied, distributed widely in space and time. Once we have a more specific grasp on how altering biology changes what it is to be biological, Landecker argues, we may be more prepared to answer the social questions that biotechnology is raising.

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The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction
Henry T. Greely
Harvard University Press, 2016

“Will the future confront us with human GMOs? Greely provocatively declares yes, and, while clearly explaining the science, spells out the ethical, political, and practical ramifications.”—Paul Berg, Nobel Laureate and recipient of the National Medal of Science

Within twenty, maybe forty, years most people in developed countries will stop having sex for the purpose of reproduction. Instead, prospective parents will be told as much as they wish to know about the genetic makeup of dozens of embryos, and they will pick one or two for implantation, gestation, and birth. And it will be safe, lawful, and free. In this work of prophetic scholarship, Henry T. Greely explains the revolutionary biological technologies that make this future a seeming inevitability and sets out the deep ethical and legal challenges humanity faces as a result.

“Readers looking for a more in-depth analysis of human genome modifications and reproductive technologies and their legal and ethical implications should strongly consider picking up Greely’s The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction… [It has] the potential to empower readers to make informed decisions about the implementation of advancements in genetics technologies.”
—Dov Greenbaum, Science

“[Greely] provides an extraordinarily sophisticated analysis of the practical, political, legal, and ethical implications of the new world of human reproduction. His book is a model of highly informed, rigorous, thought-provoking speculation about an immensely important topic.”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today

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Engineering Animals
How Life Works
Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean
Harvard University Press, 2011

The alarm calls of birds make them difficult for predators to locate, while the howl of wolves and the croak of bullfrogs are designed to carry across long distances. From an engineer's perspective, how do such specialized adaptations among living things really work? And how does physics constrain evolution, channeling it in particular directions?

Writing with wit and a richly informed sense of wonder, Denny and McFadzean offer an expert look at animals as works of engineering, each exquisitely adapted to a specific manner of survival, whether that means spinning webs or flying across continents or hunting in the dark-or writing books. This particular book, containing more than a hundred illustrations, conveys clearly, for engineers and nonengineers alike, the physical principles underlying animal structure and behavior.

Pigeons, for instance-when understood as marvels of engineering-are flying remote sensors: they have wideband acoustical receivers, hi-res optics, magnetic sensing, and celestial navigation. Albatrosses expend little energy while traveling across vast southern oceans, by exploiting a technique known to glider pilots as dynamic soaring. Among insects, one species of fly can locate the source of a sound precisely, even though the fly itself is much smaller than the wavelength of the sound it hears. And that big-brained, upright Great Ape? Evolution has equipped us to figure out an important fact about the natural world: that there is more to life than engineering, but no life at all without it.

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Fighting for the Future of Food
Activists versus Agribusiness in the Struggle over Biotechnology
Rachel Schurman
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
When scientists working in the agricultural biotechnology industry first altered the genetic material of one organism by introducing genes from an entirely different organism, the reaction was generally enthusiastic. To many, these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) promised to solve the challenges faced by farmers and to relieve world hunger. Yet within a decade, this "gene revolution" had abruptly stalled. Widespread protests against the potential dangers of "Frankenfoods" and the patenting of seed supplies in the developing world forced the industry to change course. As a result, in the late 1990s, some of the world's largest firms reduced their investment in the agricultural sector, narrowed their focus to a few select crops, or sold off their agricultural divisions altogether.

Fighting for the Future of Food tells the story of how a small group of social activists, working together across tables, continents, and the Internet, took on the biotech industry and achieved stunning success. Rachel Schurman and William A. Munro detail how the anti-biotech movement managed to alter public perceptions about GMOs and close markets to such products. Drawing strength from an alternative worldview that sustained its members' sense of urgency and commitment, the anti-GMO movement exploited political opportunities created by the organization and culture of the biotechnology industry itself.

Fighting for the Future of Food ultimately addresses society's understanding and trust (or mistrust) of technological innovation and the complexities of the global agricultural system that provides our food.
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First the Seed
The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology
Jack Ralph Kloppenburg, Jr.
University of Wisconsin Press, 2005
First the Seed spotlights the history of plant breeding and shows how efforts to control the seed have shaped the emergence of the agricultural biotechnology industry. This second edition of a classic work in the political economy of science includes an extensive, new chapter updating the analysis to include the most recent developments in the struggle over the direction of crop genetic engineering.

1988 Cloth, 1990 Paperback, Cambridge University Press
Winner of the Theodore Saloutos Award of the Agricultural History Society
Winner of the Robert K. Merton Award of the American Sociological Association
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Food for the Few
Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America
Edited by Gerardo Otero
University of Texas Press, 2008

Recent decades have seen tremendous changes in Latin America's agricultural sector, resulting from a broad program of liberalization instigated under pressure from the United States, the IMF, and the World Bank. Tariffs have been lifted, agricultural markets have been opened and privatized, land reform policies have been restricted or eliminated, and the perspective has shifted radically toward exportation rather than toward the goal of feeding local citizens. Examining the impact of these transformations, the contributors to Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America paint a somber portrait, describing local peasant farmers who have been made responsible for protecting impossibly vast areas of biodiversity, or are forced to specialize in one genetically modified crop, or who become low-wage workers within a capitalized farm complex. Using dozens of examples such as these, the deleterious consequences are surveyed from the perspectives of experts in diverse fields, including anthropology, economics, geography, political science, and sociology.

From Kathy McAfee's "Exporting Crop Biotechnology: The Myth of Molecular Miracles," to Liz Fitting's "Importing Corn, Exporting Labor: The Neoliberal Corn Regime, GMOs, and the Erosion of Mexican Biodiversity," Food for the Few balances disturbing findings with hopeful assessments of emerging grassroots alternatives. Surveying not only the Latin American conditions that led to bankruptcy for countless farmers but also the North's practices, such as the heavy subsidies implemented to protect North American farmers, these essays represent a comprehensive, keenly informed response to a pivotal global crisis.

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Fungible Life
Experiment in the Asian City of Life
Aihwa Ong
Duke University Press, 2016
In Fungible Life Aihwa Ong explores the dynamic world of cutting-edge bioscience research, offering critical insights into the complex ways Asian bioscientific worlds and cosmopolitan sciences are entangled in a tropical environment brimming with the threat of emergent diseases. At biomedical centers in Singapore and China scientists map genetic variants, disease risks, and biomarkers, mobilizing ethnicized "Asian" bodies and health data for genomic research. Their differentiation between Chinese, Indian, and Malay DNA makes fungible Singapore's ethnic-stratified databases that come to "represent" majority populations in Asia. By deploying genomic science as a public good, researchers reconfigure the relationships between objects, peoples, and spaces, thus rendering "Asia" itself as a shifting entity. In Ong's analysis, Asia emerges as a richly layered mode of entanglements, where the population's genetic pasts, anxieties and hopes, shared genetic weaknesses, and embattled genetic futures intersect. Furthermore, her illustration of the contrasting methods and goals of the Biopolis biomedical center in Singapore and BGI Genomics in China raises questions about the future direction of cosmopolitan science in Asia and beyond.
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Genentech
The Beginnings of Biotech
Sally Smith Hughes
University of Chicago Press, 2011
In the fall of 1980, Genentech, Inc., a little-known California genetic engineering company, became the overnight darling of Wall Street, raising over $38 million in its initial public stock offering. Lacking marketed products or substantial profit, the firm nonetheless saw its share price escalate from $35 to $89 in the first few minutes of trading, at that point the largest gain in stock market history. Coming at a time of economic recession and declining technological competitiveness in the United States, the event provoked banner headlines and ignited a period of speculative frenzy over biotechnology as a revolutionary means for creating new and better kinds of pharmaceuticals, untold profit, and a possible solution to national economic malaise.
 
Drawing from an unparalleled collection of interviews with early biotech players, Sally Smith Hughes offers the first book-length history of this pioneering company, depicting Genentech’s improbable creation, precarious youth, and ascent to immense prosperity. Hughes provides intimate portraits of the people significant to Genentech’s science and business, including cofounders Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson, and in doing so sheds new light on how personality affects the growth of science. By placing Genentech’s founders, followers, opponents, victims, and beneficiaries in context, Hughes also demonstrates how science interacts with commercial and legal interests and university research, and with government regulation, venture capital, and commercial profits.
 
Integrating the scientific, the corporate, the contextual, and the personal, Genentech tells the story of biotechnology as it is not often told, as a risky and improbable entrepreneurial venture that had to overcome a number of powerful forces working against it.  
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Genes in Conflict
The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements
Austin Burt and Robert Trivers
Harvard University Press, 2008
In evolution, most genes survive and spread within populations because they increase the ability of their hosts (or their close relatives) to survive and reproduce. But some genes spread in spite of being harmful to the host organism—by distorting their own transmission to the next generation, or by changing how the host behaves toward relatives. As a consequence, different genes in a single organism can have diametrically opposed interests and adaptations.Covering all species from yeast to humans, Genes in Conflict is the first book to tell the story of selfish genetic elements, those continually appearing stretches of DNA that act narrowly to advance their own replication at the expense of the larger organism. As Austin Burt and Robert Trivers show, these selfish genes are a universal feature of life with pervasive effects, including numerous counter-adaptations. Their spread has created a whole world of socio-genetic interactions within individuals, usually completely hidden from sight.Genes in Conflict introduces the subject of selfish genetic elements in all its aspects, from molecular and genetic to behavioral and evolutionary. Burt and Trivers give us access for the first time to a crucial area of research—now developing at an explosive rate—that is cohering as a unitary whole, with its own logic and interconnected questions, a subject certain to be of enduring importance to our understanding of genetics and evolution.
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Genes in Development
Re-reading the Molecular Paradigm
Eva M. Neumann-Held and Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, eds.
Duke University Press, 2006
In light of scientific advances such as genomics, predictive diagnostics, genetically engineered agriculture, nuclear transfer cloning, and the manipulation of stem cells, the idea that genes carry predetermined molecular programs or blueprints is pervasive. Yet new scientific discoveries—such as rna transcripts of single genes that can lead to the production of different compounds from the same pieces of dna—challenge the concept of the gene alone as the dominant factor in biological development. Increasingly aware of the tension between certain empirical results and interpretations of those results based on the orthodox view of genetic determinism, a growing number of scientists urge a rethinking of what a gene is and how it works. In this collection, a group of internationally renowned scientists present some prominent alternative approaches to understanding the role of dna in the construction and function of biological organisms.

Contributors discuss alternatives to the programmatic view of dna, including the developmental systems approach, methodical culturalism, the molecular process concept of the gene, the hermeneutic theory of description, and process structuralist biology. None of the approaches cast doubt on the notion that dna is tremendously important to biological life on earth; rather, contributors examine different ideas of how dna should be represented, evaluated, and explained. Just as ideas about genetic codes have reached far beyond the realm of science, the reconceptualizations of genetic theory in this volume have broad implications for ethics, philosophy, and the social sciences.

Contributors. Thomas Bürglin, Brian C. Goodwin, James Griesemer, Paul Griffiths, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Evelyn Fox Keller, Gerd B. Müller, Eva M. Neumann-Held, Stuart A. Newman, Susan Oyama, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Sahotra Sarkar, Jackie Leach Scully, Gerry Webster, Ulrich Wolf

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Genomes and What to Make of Them
Barry Barnes and John Dupré
University of Chicago Press, 2008
The announcement in 2003 that the Human Genome Project had completed its map of the entire human genome was heralded as a stunning scientific breakthrough: our first full picture of the basic building blocks of human life. Since then, boasts about the benefits—and warnings of the dangers—of genomics have remained front-page news, with everyone agreeing that genomics has the potential to radically alter life as we know it.

For the nonscientist, the claims and counterclaims are dizzying—what does it really mean to understand the genome? Barry Barnes and John Dupré offer an answer to that question and much more in Genomes and What to Make of Them, a clear and lively account of the genomic revolution and its promise. The book opens with a brief history of the science of genetics and genomics, from Mendel to Watson and Crick and all the way up to Craig Venter; from there the authors delve into the use of genomics in determining evolutionary paths—and what it can tell us, for example, about how far we really have come from our ape ancestors. Barnes and Dupré then consider both the power and risks of genetics, from the economic potential of plant genomes to overblown claims that certain human genes can be directly tied to such traits as intelligence or homosexuality. Ultimately, the authors argue, we are now living with a new knowledge as powerful in its way as nuclear physics­, and the stark choices that face us—between biological warfare and gene therapy, a new eugenics or a new agricultural revolution—will demand the full engagement of both scientists and citizens. 

Written in straightforward language but without denying the complexity of the issues, Genomes and What to Make of Them is both an up-to-date primer and a blueprint for the future.
[more]

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Intellectual Property
Trade, Competition, and Sustainable Development The World Trade Forum, Volume 3
Thomas Cottier and Petros C. Mavroidis, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2003
The incorporation of intellectual property protection into the WTO international trading system has been a milestone in international economic law and has added a new dimension to trade regulation — new rights and obligations and new challenges alike. The contributors, leading scholars and practitioners in the field, provide insights into the legal relationship of the TRIPs Agreement to the GATT 94 and the GATS. The book widens the debate with a thorough discussion on pending and unresolved relations of TRIPs, the WTO, UPOV, the Convention on Biodiversity and Farmers' Rights contained in the FAO International Undertaking, and efforts of the World Bank GCIAR system, including IPGRI. What will be the impact of TRIPs on ownership of plant genetic resources?
Largely a victory for OECD countries, the present state of intellectual property rights has important implications for developing countries. The incorporation of intellectual property rights into the WTO system will eventually change the relationship of trade, competition, and intellectual property. It will equally have to assist in providing equitable sharing of benefits in the use of plant genetic resources. All of these issues are essential for the revision of exclusions from patenting in TRIPs. This volume offers insights into how this difficult task could and should be approached in a balanced manner and will be essential reading for economists and trade and intellectual property lawyers interested in the subject. Moreover, the volume will be relevant to agricultural economists as it addresses complex problems in the interstices of trade, intellectual property, plant genetic resources, and sustainable development.
Thomas Cottier is Professor of European and International Economic Law, University of Bern, and Managing Director, World Trade Institute, University of Bern.
Petros C. Mavroidis is Professor of Law, University of Neuchâtel. He formerly worked in the Legal Affairs Division of the World Trade Organization.
Marion Panizzon is Research Fellow, University of Bern.
Simon Lacey is Research Fellow, University of Bern.
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Kellogg on Biotechnology
Thriving through Integration
Alicia Loffler
Northwestern University Press, 2005
Biotechnology is the new capital. The stakeholders in this revolution are many: the scientists who generate the knowledge in fields where the pace is maddeningly fast; the technologists who make ideas a reality; the managers who struggle to deal with an industry where the old rules of thinking do not always apply; the venture capitalists who provide funds based on market moods rather than science; the health care, agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries whose once cozy enclaves have been revolutionized and are now barely recognizable; the law professionals and ethicists who have to grapple with issues unimaginable just a few years ago; the public policy makers who struggle with the complex issues and have to make decisions quickly, or risk being left behind; and, finally, the society and individuals who are in the midst of all that is taking place. This book addresses this diverse constituency and offers an integrated view of exciting new biotechnologies, both from a science and business perspective.

The book walks the reader through the "what"--what are some of the newest biotechnologies that will revolutionize the way we think about health?; the "how"--how to transform those technologies into profitable products and companies; and the "who"--who will benefit from these technologies?

Kellogg on Biotech is the outgrowth of a collaborative student-faculty effort called TechVentures at the Kellogg School of Management. Their research forms the raw material for Kellogg on Biotech.
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Legitimating Life
Adoption in the Age of Globalization and Biotechnology
van Wichelen, Sonja
Rutgers University Press, 2019
The phenomenon of transnational adoption is changing in the age of globalization and biotechnology. In Legitimating Life, Sonja van Wichelen boldly describes how contemporary justifications of cross-border adoption navigate between child welfare, humanitarianism, family making, capitalism, science, and health. Focusing on contemporary institutional practices of adoption in the United States and the Netherlands, she traces how professionals, bureaucrats, lawyers, politicians, social workers, and experts legitimate a practice that became progressively controversial. Throughout the past few decades transnational adoption transformed from a humanitarian response to a means of making family. In this new manifestation, life becomes necessarily economized. While push and pull factors, demand and supply dynamics, and competition between agencies set the stage for the globalization of adoption, international conventions, scientific knowledge, and the language of human rights universalized the phenomenon. Van Wichelen argues that such technoscientific legitimations of a globalizing practice are rearticulating colonial logics of race and civilization. Yet, she also lets us see beyond the biopolitical project and into alternative ways of making kin. 

 
 
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Liminal Lives
Imagining the Human at the Frontiers of Biomedicine
Susan Merrill Squier
Duke University Press, 2004
Embryo adoptions, stem cells capable of transforming into any cell in the human body, intra- and inter-species organ transplantation—these and other biomedical advances have unsettled ideas of what it means to be human, of when life begins and ends. In the first study to consider the cultural impact of the medical transformation of the entire human life span, Susan Merrill Squier argues that fiction—particularly science fiction—serves as a space where worries about ethically and socially charged scientific procedures are worked through. Indeed, she demonstrates that in many instances fiction has anticipated and paved the way for far-reaching biomedical changes. Squier uses the anthropological concept of liminality—the state of being on the threshold of change, no longer one thing yet not quite another—to explore how, from the early twentieth century forward, fiction and science together have altered not only the concept of the human being but the contours of human life.

Drawing on archival materials of twentieth-century biology; little-known works of fiction and science fiction; and twentieth- and twenty-first century U.S. and U.K. government reports by the National Institutes of Health, the Parliamentary Advisory Group on the Ethics of Xenotransplantation, and the President’s Council on Bioethics, she examines a number of biomedical changes as each was portrayed by scientists, social scientists, and authors of fiction and poetry. Among the scientific developments she considers are the cultured cell, the hybrid embryo, the engineered intrauterine fetus, the child treated with human growth hormone, the process of organ transplantation, and the elderly person rejuvenated by hormone replacement therapy or other artificial means. Squier shows that in the midst of new phenomena such as these, literature helps us imagine new ways of living. It allows us to reflect on the possibilities and perils of our liminal lives.

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Lively Capital
Biotechnologies, Ethics, and Governance in Global Markets
Kaushik Sunder Rajan, ed.
Duke University Press, 2012
Lively Capital is an urgent and important collection of essays addressing the reconfigured relations between the life sciences and the market. Exploring the ground where social and cultural anthropology intersect with science and technology studies, prominent scholars investigate the relationship of biotechnology to ethics, governance, and markets, as well as the new legal, social, cultural, and institutional mechanisms emerging to regulate biotechnology. The contributors examine genomics, pharmaceutical marketing, intellectual property, environmental science, clinical trials, patient advocacy, and other such matters as they are playing out in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Lively Capital is not only about the commercialization of the life sciences, but their institutional histories, epistemic formations, and systems of valuation. It is also about the lively affects—the emotions and desires—involved when technologies and research impinge on experiences of embodiment, kinship, identity, disability, citizenship, accumulation, and dispossession. At stake in the commodification of the life sciences are opportunities to intervene in and adjudicate matters of health, life, and death.

Contributors. Timothy Choy, Joseph Dumit, Michael M. J. Fischer, Kim Fortun, Mike Fortun, Donna Haraway, Sheila Jasanoff, Wen-Hua Kuo, Andrew Lakoff, Kristin Peterson, Chloe Silverman, Elta Smith, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Travis J. Tanner

[more]

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Living at Micro Scale
The Unexpected Physics of Being Small
David B. Dusenbery
Harvard University Press, 2011

Kermit the Frog famously said that it isn’t easy being green, and in Living at Micro Scale David Dusenbery shows that it isn’t easy being small—existing at the size of, say, a rotifer, a tiny multicellular animal just at the boundary between the visible and the microscopic. “Imagine,” he writes, “stepping off a curb and waiting a week for your foot to hit the ground.” At that scale, we would be small enough to swim inside the letter O in the word “rotifer.” What are the physical consequences of life at this scale? How do such organisms move, identify prey and predators and (if they’re so inclined) mates, signal to one another, and orient themselves?

In clear and engaging prose, Dusenbery uses straightforward physics to demonstrate the constraints on the size, shape, and behavior of tiny organisms. While recounting the historical development of the basic concepts, he unearths a corner of microbiology rich in history, and full of lessons about how science does or does not progress. Marshalling findings from different fields to show why tiny organisms have some of the properties they are found to have, Dusenbery shows a science that doesn’t always move triumphantly forward, and is dependent to a great extent on accident and contingency.

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Making PCR
A Story of Biotechnology
Paul Rabinow
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Making PCR is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the invention of one of the most significant biotech discoveries in our time—the polymerase chain reaction. Transforming the practice and potential of molecular biology, PCR extends scientists' ability to identify and manipulate genetic materials and accurately reproduces millions of copies of a given segment in a short period of time. It makes abundant what was once scarce—the genetic material required for experimentation.

Making PCR explores the culture of biotechnology as it emerged at Certus Corporation during the 1980s and focuses on its distinctive configuration of scientific, technical, social, economic, political, and legal elements, each of which had its own separate trajectory over the preceding decade. The book contains interviews with the remarkable cast of characters who made PCR, including Kary Mullin, the maverick who received the Nobel prize for "discovering" it, as well as the team of young scientists and the company's business leaders.

This book shows how a contingently assembled practice emerged, composed of distinctive subjects, the site where they worked, and the object they invented.

"Paul Rabinow paints a . . . picture of the process of discovery in Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology [and] teases out every possible detail. . . . Makes for an intriguing read that raises many questions about our understanding of the twisting process of discovery itself."—David Bradley, New Scientist

"Rabinow's book belongs to a burgeoning genre: ethnographic studies of what scientists actually do in the lab. . . . A bold move."—Daniel Zalewski, Lingua Franca

"[Making PCR is] exotic territory, biomedical research, explored. . . . Rabinow describes a dance: the immigration and repatriation of scientists to and from the academic and business worlds."—Nancy Maull, New York Times Book Review
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Membranes to Molecular Machines
Active Matter and the Remaking of Life
Mathias Grote
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Today's science tells us that our bodies are filled with molecular machinery that orchestrates all sorts of life processes. When we think, microscopic "channels" open and close in our brain cell membranes; when we run, tiny "motors" spin in our muscle cell membranes; and when we see, light operates "molecular switches" in our eyes and nerves. A molecular-mechanical vision of life has become commonplace in both the halls of philosophy and the offices of drug companies, where researchers are developing “proton pump inhibitors” or medicines similar to Prozac.
 
Membranes to Molecular Machines explores just how late twentieth-century science came to think of our cells and bodies this way. This story is told through the lens of membrane research, an unwritten history at the crossroads of molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, and the neurosciences, that directly feeds into today's synthetic biology as well as nano- and biotechnology. Mathias Grote shows how these sciences not only have made us think differently about life, they have, by reworking what membranes and proteins represent in laboratories, allowed us to manipulate life as "active matter" in new ways. Covering the science of biological membranes in the United States and Europe from the mid-1960s to the 1990s, this book connects that history to contemporary work with optogenetics, a method for stimulating individual neurons using light, and will enlighten and provoke anyone interested in the intersection of chemical research and the life sciences—from practitioner to historian to philosopher.

The research described in the book and its central actor, Dieter Oesterhelt, were honored with the 2021 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his contribution to the development of optogenetics. 
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Mutant Ecologies
Manufacturing Life in the Age of Genomic Capital
Erica Borg
Pluto Press, 2022

How capitalism is reconfiguring the very texture of life

Mutant Ecologies traces the spinning of new synthetic threads into the web of life. It is a critical cartography of the shifting landscapes of capital accumulation conjured by recent developments in genomic science, genome editing, and the biotech industry.

CRISPR crops, fast-growing salmons, heat-resistant Slick™ cows, Friendly™ Mosquitoes, humanized mice, pigs growing human organs – these are but a few of the dazzling new life-forms that have recently emerged from corporate and university laboratories around the world, all promising to lubricate the circuits of capital accumulation in distinct ways. The deliberate induction of genetic mutations is increasingly central to business operations in a number of sectors, from agriculture to pharmaceuticals.

While the Nobel Committee recently proclaimed the life sciences to have entered 'a new epoch', the authors show how these technological innovations continue to operate within a socio-historical context defined by the iron rules of capitalist competition and exploitation. Capital no longer contents itself by simply appropriating the living bodies of plants and animals. It purposefully designs its internal metabolism, and in that way, it redesigns the countless living vectors that constitute the global biosphere. It is driving a biological revolution, which will ripple through the everyday lives of people everywhere.

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Nanofibres in Drug Delivery
Gareth R. Williams, Bahijja T. Raimi-Abraham, and C. J. Luo
University College London, 2018
In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest in the production of nanoscale fibers for drug delivery and tissue engineering. Nanofibres in Drug Delivery aims to outline to new researchers in the field the utility of nanofibers in drug delivery, and to explain to them how to prepare fibers in the laboratory. The book begins with a brief discussion of the main concepts in pharmaceutical science. The authors then introduce the key techniques that can be used for fiber production and explain briefly the theory behind them. They discuss the experimental implementation of fiber production, starting with the simplest possible set-up and then moving on to consider more complex arrangements. As they do so, they offer advice from their own experience of fiber production, and use examples from current literature to show how each particular type of fibers can be applied to drug delivery. They also consider how fiber production could be moved beyond the research laboratory into industry, discussing regulatory and scale-up aspects.
 
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The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics
With a New Afterword
William B. Provine
University of Chicago Press, 2001
Tracing the development of population genetics through the writings of such luminaries as Darwin, Galton, Pearson, Fisher, Haldane, and Wright, William B. Provine sheds light on this complex field as well as its bearing on other branches of biology.
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The Other Dark Matter
The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health
Lina Zeldovich
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Grossly ambitious and rooted in scientific scholarship, The Other Dark Matter shows how human excrement can be a life-saving, money-making resource—if we make better use of it.

The average person produces about four hundred pounds of excrement a year. More than seven billion people live on this planet. Holy crap!

Because of the diseases it spreads, we have learned to distance ourselves from our waste, but the long line of engineering marvels we’ve created to do so—from Roman sewage systems and medieval latrines to the immense, computerized treatment plants we use today—has also done considerable damage to the earth’s ecology. Now scientists tell us: we’ve been wasting our waste. When recycled correctly, this resource, cheap and widely available, can be converted into a sustainable energy source, act as an organic fertilizer, provide effective medicinal therapy for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, and much more.

In clear and engaging prose that draws on her extensive research and interviews, Lina Zeldovich documents the massive redistribution of nutrients and sanitation inequities across the globe. She profiles the pioneers of poop upcycling, from startups in African villages to innovators in American cities that convert sewage into fertilizer, biogas, crude oil, and even life-saving medicine. She breaks taboos surrounding sewage disposal and shows how hygienic waste repurposing can help battle climate change, reduce acid rain, and eliminate toxic algal blooms. Ultimately, she implores us to use our innate organic power for the greater good. Don’t just sit there and let it go to waste.
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Patent Politics
Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe
Shobita Parthasarathy
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Over the past thirty years, the world’s patent systems have experienced pressure from civil society like never before. From farmers to patient advocates, new voices are arguing that patents impact public health, economic inequality, morality—and democracy. These challenges, to domains that we usually consider technical and legal, may seem surprising. But in Patent Politics, Shobita Parthasarathy argues that patent systems have always been deeply political and social.
 
To demonstrate this, Parthasarathy takes readers through a particularly fierce and prolonged set of controversies over patents on life forms linked to important advances in biology and agriculture and potentially life-saving medicines. Comparing battles over patents on animals, human embryonic stem cells, human genes, and plants in the United States and Europe, she shows how political culture, ideology, and history shape patent system politics. Clashes over whose voices and which values matter in the patent system, as well as what counts as knowledge and whose expertise is important, look quite different in these two places. And through these debates, the United States and Europe are developing very different approaches to patent and innovation governance. Not just the first comprehensive look at the controversies swirling around biotechnology patents, Patent Politics is also the first in-depth analysis of the political underpinnings and implications of modern patent systems, and provides a timely analysis of how we can reform these systems around the world to maximize the public interest.
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front cover of Playing God?
Playing God?
Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate
John H. Evans
University of Chicago Press, 2001
Technology evolves at a dazzling speed, and nowhere more so than in the field of genetic engineering, where the possibility of directly changing the genes of one's children is quickly becoming a reality. The public is rightly concerned, but interestingly, they have not had much to say about the implications of recent advancements in human genetics.

Playing God? asks why and explores the social forces that have led to the thinning out of public debate over human genetic engineering. John H. Evans contends that the problem lies in the structure of the debate itself. Disputes over human genetic engineering concern the means for achieving assumed ends, rather than being a healthy discussion about the ends themselves. According to Evans, this change in focus occurred as the jurisdiction over the debate shifted from scientists to bioethicists, a change which itself was caused by the rise of the bureaucratic state as the authority in such matters. The implications of this timely study are twofold. Evans not only explores how decisions about the ethics of human genetic engineering are made, but also shows how the structure of the debate has led to the technological choices we now face.
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A Primer for Computational Biology
Shawn T. O'Neil
Oregon State University Press, 2017

A Primer for Computational Biology aims to provide life scientists and students the skills necessary for research in a data-rich world. The text covers accessing and using remote servers via the command-line, writing programs and pipelines for data analysis, and provides useful vocabulary for interdisciplinary work. The book is broken into three parts:

  1. Introduction to Unix/Linux: The command-line is the “natural environment” of scientific computing, and this part covers a wide range of topics, including logging in, working with files and directories, installing programs and writing scripts, and the powerful “pipe” operator for file and data manipulation.
  2. Programming in Python: Python is both a premier language for learning and a common choice in scientific software development. This part covers the basic concepts in programming (data types, if-statements and loops, functions) via examples of DNA-sequence analysis. This part also covers more complex subjects in software development such as objects and classes, modules, and APIs.
  3. Programming in R: The R language specializes in statistical data analysis, and is also quite useful for visualizing large datasets. This third part covers the basics of R as a programming language (data types, if-statements, functions, loops and when to use them) as well as techniques for large-scale, multi-test analyses. Other topics include S3 classes and data visualization with ggplot2.
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Reasons of Conscience
The Bioethics Debate in Germany
Stefan Sperling
University of Chicago Press, 2013
The implicit questions that inevitably underlie German bioethics are the same ones that have pervaded all of German public life for decades: How could the Holocaust have happened? And how can Germans make sure that it will never happen again? In Reasons of Conscience, Stefan Sperling considers the bioethical debates surrounding embryonic stem cell research in Germany at the turn of the twenty-first century, highlighting how the country’s ongoing struggle to come to terms with its past informs the decisions it makes today.
           
Sperling brings the reader unmatched access to the offices of the German parliament to convey the role that morality and ethics play in contemporary Germany. He describes the separate and interactive workings of the two bodies assigned to shape German bioethics—the parliamentary Enquiry Commission on Law and Ethics in Modern Medicine and the executive branch’s National Ethics Council—tracing each institution’s genesis, projected image, and operations, and revealing that the content of bioethics cannot be separated from the workings of these institutions. Sperling then focuses his discussion around three core categories—transparency, conscience, and Germany itself—arguing that without fully considering these, we fail to understand German bioethics. He concludes with an assessment of German legislators and regulators’ attempts to incorporate criteria of ethical research into the German Stem Cell Law.
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The Recombinant University
Genetic Engineering and the Emergence of Stanford Biotechnology
Doogab Yi
University of Chicago Press, 2015
The advent of recombinant DNA technology in the 1970s was a key moment in the history of both biotechnology and the commercialization of academic research. Doogab Yi’s The Recombinant University draws us deeply into the academic community in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the technology was developed and adopted as the first major commercial technology for genetic engineering. In doing so, it reveals how research patronage, market forces, and legal developments from the late 1960s through the early 1980s influenced the evolution of the technology and reshaped the moral and scientific life of biomedical researchers.

Bay Area scientists, university administrators, and government officials were fascinated by and increasingly engaged in the economic and political opportunities associated with the privatization of academic research. Yi uncovers how the attempts made by Stanford scientists and administrators to demonstrate the relevance of academic research were increasingly mediated by capitalistic conceptions of knowledge, medical innovation, and the public interest. Their interventions resulted in legal shifts and moral realignments that encouraged the privatization of academic research for public benefit. The Recombinant University brings to life the hybrid origin story of  biotechnology and the ways the academic culture of science has changed in tandem with the early commercialization of recombinant DNA technology.
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Re-Creating Nature
Science, Technology, and Human Values in the Twenty-First Century
James T. Bradley
University of Alabama Press, 2019
An exploration of the moral and ethical implications of new biotechnologies

Many of the ethical issues raised by new technologies have not been widely examined, discussed, or indeed settled. For example, robotics technology challenges the notion of personhood. Should a robot, capable of making what humans would call ethical decisions, be held responsible for those decisions and the resultant actions? Should society reward and punish robots in the same way that it does humans? Likewise, issues of safety, environmental concerns, and distributive justice arise with the increasing acceptance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food production nanotechnology in engineering and medicine, and human gene therapy and enhancement. The problem of dual-use—when a technology can be used both to benefit and to harm—exists with virtually all new technologies but is central in the context of emerging 21st century technologies ranging from artificial intelligence and robotics to human gene-editing and brain-computer interfacing.

In Re-Creating Nature: Science, Technology, and Human Values in the Twenty-First Century, James T. Bradley addresses emerging biotechnologies with prodigious potential to benefit humankind but that are also fraught with ethical consequences. Some actually possess the power to directly alter the evolution of life on earth including human. Specifically, these topics include stem cells, synthetic biology, GMOs in agriculture, nanotechnology, bioterrorism, CRISPR gene-editing technology, three-parent babies, robotics and roboethics, artificial intelligence, and human brain research and neurotechnologies.

Offering clear explanations of these various technologies, a pragmatic presentation of the conundrums involved, and questions that illuminate hypothetical situations, Bradley guides discussions of these and other thorny issues resulting from the development of new biotechnologies. He also highlights the responsibilities of scientists to conduct research in an ethical manner and the responsibilities of nonscientists to become “science literate” in the twenty-first century.
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front cover of Representations of the Post/Human
Representations of the Post/Human
Monsters, Aliens, and Others in Popular Culture
Graham, Elaine L.
Rutgers University Press, 2002

Microchips. Genetic modification of plants. Cloning. Advances in technology promise to shape our lives more profoundly than ever before. Exciting new discoveries in reproductive, genetic, and information technologies all serve to call into question the immutability of the boundaries between humans, animals, and machines. The category of the “posthuman” reflects the implications of such new technologies on contemporary culture, especially in their capacity to reconfigure the human body and to challenge our most fundamental understandings of human nature.

Elaine L. Graham explores these issues as they are expressed within popular culture and the creative arts. From the myth of Prometheus and the Gothic horror of Frankenstein’s monster to contemporary postmodern science fiction, a gallery of fantastic creatures haunts Western myth, religion, and literature. They serve to connect contemporary debates with enduring concerns about the potential—and the limits—of human creativity.

This book breaks new ground in drawing together a wide range of literature on new technologies and their ethical implications. In her explorations of the monstrous and the cyborg, Graham covers the Jewish legend of the golem, the Human Genome Project, Star Trek: Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Donna Haraway’s cyborg writing, andmany other related topics. This book will interest students in cultural studies, literature, ethics, religion, information technology, and the life sciences.

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Seeds of Occupation, Seeds of Possibility
The Agrochemical-GMO Industry in Hawai‘i
Andrea Noelani Brower
West Virginia University Press, 2022
How Hawaiʻi became the epicenter of the biotech seed industry, and how a resistance movement arose to confront the industry’s power.

Hawaiʻi is a primary site for development of herbicide-resistant corn seed and, until recently, was host to more experimental field trials of genetically engineered crops than anywhere else in the world. It is also a node of powerful resistance. While documentaries and popular news stories have profiled the biotech seed industry in Hawaiʻi, Seeds of Occupation, Seeds of Possibility is the first book to detail the social and historical conditions by which the chemical-seed oligopoly came to occupy the most geographically isolated islands in the world and made the soils of Hawaiʻi the epicenter of agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology testing.

Andrea Brower, an activist-scholar from Hawaiʻi, examines the consequences related to genetically engineered seed development for Hawaiʻi’s people and the social movement that has risen in response. With insights beyond the islands, Seeds of Occupation, Seeds of Possibility illuminates why visions for a radically better world must be expanded by intersectional and systemically oriented movements.
 
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Shaping Science and Technology Policy
The Next Generation of Research
Edited by David H. Guston and Daniel Sarewitz
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006

With scientific progress occurring at a breathtaking pace, science and technology policy has never been more important than it is today. Yet there is a very real lack of public discourse about policy-making, and government involvement in science remains shrouded in both mystery and misunderstanding.  Who is making choices about technology policy, and who stands to win or lose from these choices?  What criteria are being used to make decisions and why?  Does government involvement help or hinder scientific research?  

Shaping Science and Technology Policy brings together an exciting and diverse group of emerging scholars, both practitioners and academic experts, to investigate current issues in science and technology policy.  Essays explore such topics as globalization, the shifting boundary between public and private, informed consent in human participation in scientific research, intellectual property and university science, and the distribution of the costs and benefits of research. 

Contributors: Charlotte Augst, Grant Black, Mark Brown, Kevin Elliott, Patrick Feng, Pamela M. Franklin, Carolyn Gideon, Tené N. Hamilton, Brian A. Jackson, Shobita Parthasarathy, Jason W. Patton, A. Abigail Payne, Bhaven Sampat, Christian Sandvig, Sheryl Winston Smith, Michael Whong-Barr

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Starved for Science
How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa
Robert PaarlbergForeword by Norman Borlaug and Jimmy Carter
Harvard University Press, 2009

Listen to a short interview with Robert PaarlbergHost: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane

Heading upcountry in Africa to visit small farms is absolutely exhilarating given the dramatic beauty of big skies, red soil, and arid vistas, but eventually the two-lane tarmac narrows to rutted dirt, and the journey must continue on foot. The farmers you eventually meet are mostly women, hardworking but visibly poor. They have no improved seeds, no chemical fertilizers, no irrigation, and with their meager crops they earn less than a dollar a day. Many are malnourished.

Nearly two-thirds of Africans are employed in agriculture, yet on a per-capita basis they produce roughly 20 percent less than they did in 1970. Although modern agricultural science was the key to reducing rural poverty in Asia, modern farm science—including biotechnology—has recently been kept out of Africa.

In Starved for Science Robert Paarlberg explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He traces this obstacle to the current opposition to farm science in prosperous countries. Having embraced agricultural science to become well-fed themselves, those in wealthy countries are now instructing Africans—on the most dubious grounds—not to do the same.

In a book sure to generate intense debate, Paarlberg details how this cultural turn against agricultural science among affluent societies is now being exported, inappropriately, to Africa. Those who are opposed to the use of agricultural technologies are telling African farmers that, in effect, it would be just as well for them to remain poor.

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Synthetic
How Life Got Made
Sophia Roosth
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In the final years of the twentieth century, émigrés from engineering and computer science devoted themselves to biology and resolved that if the aim of biology is to understand life, then making life would yield better theories than experimentation. Armed with the latest biotechnology techniques, these scientists treated biological media as elements for design and manufacture: viruses named for computers, bacterial genomes encoding passages from James Joyce, chimeric yeast buckling under the metabolic strain of genes harvested from wormwood, petunias, and microbes from Icelandic thermal pools.
 
In Synthetic: How Life Got Made, cultural anthropologist Sophia Roosth reveals how synthetic biologists make new living things in order to understand better how life works. The first book-length ethnographic study of this discipline, Synthetic documents the social, cultural, rhetorical, economic, and imaginative transformations biology has undergone in the post-genomic age. Roosth traces this new science from its origins at MIT to start-ups, laboratories, conferences, and hackers’ garages across the United States—even to contemporary efforts to resurrect extinct species. Her careful research reveals that rather than opening up a limitless new field, these biologists’ own experimental tactics circularly determine the biological features, theories, and limits they fasten upon. Exploring the life sciences emblematic of our time, Synthetic tells the origin story of the astonishing claim that biological making fosters biological knowing.
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Transformed States
Medicine, Biotechnology, and American Culture, 1990–2020
Martin Halliwell
Rutgers University Press
Transformed States offers a timely history of the politics, ethics, medical applications, and cultural representations of the biotechnological revolution, from the Human Genome Project to the COVID-19 pandemic. In exploring the entanglements of mental and physical health in an age of biotechnology, it views the post–Cold War 1990s as the horizon for understanding the intersection of technoscience and culture in the early twenty-first century.
 
The book draws on original research spanning the presidencies of George H. W. Bush and Joe Biden to show how the politics of science and technology shape the medical uses of biotechnology. Some of these technologies reveal fierce ideological conflicts in the arenas of cloning, reproduction, artificial intelligence, longevity, gender affirmation, vaccination and environmental health. Interweaving politics and culture, the book illustrates how these health issues are reflected in and challenged by literary and cinematic texts, from Oryx and Crake to Annihilation, and from Gattaca to Avatar.
 
By assessing the complex relationship between federal politics and the biomedical industry, Transformed States develops an ecological approach to public health that moves beyond tensions between state governance and private enterprise. To that end, Martin Halliwell analyzes thirty years that radically transformed American science, medicine, and policy, positioning biotechnology in dialogue with fears and fantasies about an emerging future in which health is ever more contested.
 
Along with the two earlier books, Therapeutic Revolutions (2013) and Voices of Mental Health (2017), Transformed States is the final volume of a landmark cultural and intellectual history of mental health in the United States, journeying from the combat zones of World War II to the global emergency of COVID-19.
 
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Transhumanism and Transcendence
Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement
Ronald Cole-Turner, Editor
Georgetown University Press, 2013

The timeless human desire to be more beautiful, intelligent, healthy, athletic, or young has given rise in our time to technologies of human enhancement. Athletes use drugs to increase their strength or stamina; cosmetic surgery is widely used to improve physical appearance; millions of men take drugs like Viagra to enhance sexual performance. And today researchers are exploring technologies such as cell regeneration and implantable devices that interact directly with the brain. Some condemn these developments as a new kind of cheating—not just in sports but in life itself—promising rewards without effort and depriving us most of all of what it means to be authentic human beings. “Transhumanists,” on the other hand, reject what they see as a rationalizing of human limits, as if being human means being content forever with underachieving bodies and brains. To be human, they insist, is to be restless with possibilities, always eager to transcend biological limits.

As the debate grows in urgency, how should theology respond? Christian theologians recognize truth on both sides of the argument, pointing out how the yearnings of the transhumanists—if not their technological methods—find deep affinities in Christian belief. In this volume, Ronald Cole-Turner has joined seasoned scholars and younger, emerging voices together to bring fresh insight into the technologies that are already reshaping the future of Christian life and hope.

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front cover of Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone
Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone
Mark L. Winston
Harvard University Press, 2002

With genetically modified crops we have entered uncharted territory—where visions of the triumph of biotechnology in agriculture vie with dire views of medical and environmental disaster. For two years Mark L. Winston traveled this fraught territory at home and abroad, listening to farmers, industry spokespeople, regulators, and researchers, canvassing high-security laboratories, environmentalist enclaves, and cyberspace, making a thorough survey of the facts, opinions, and practices deployed by opponents and proponents of transgenic crops.

Through his sympathetic portrayal of the passions on all sides, Winston brings a clear, unbiased perspective to this bewildering landscape. Traveling with Winston, we see the excitement and curiosity that pervade laboratories developing genetically modified crops, as well as the panic and outrage among dedicated opponents of agricultural biotechnology; the desperation of conventional farmers as they look to science for solutions to the problems driving them from their farms, as well as the deeply held values of organic farmers who dread the incursion of genetically modified crops into their expanding enterprise. And, Winston shows us, these contrasting attitudes transcend national borders, with troubling counterparts and consequences in the developing world.

As he seeks a middle ground where concerns about genetic engineering can be rationally discussed and resolved, Winston gives us, at long last, a full and balanced view of the forces at play in the chaotic debate over agricultural biotechnology.

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front cover of VAS
VAS
An Opera in Flatland: A Novel. By Steve Tomasula. Art and Design by Stephen Farrell.
Steve Tomasula and Stephen Farrell
University of Chicago Press, 2004
Printed in the colors of flesh and blood, VAS: An Opera in Flatland—a hybrid image-text novel—demonstrates how differing ways of imagining the body generate diverse stories of history, gender, politics, and, ultimately, the literature of who we are.

A constantly surprising, VAS combines a variety of voices, from journalism and libretto to poem and comic book. Often these voices meet in counterpoint, and the meaning of the narrative emerges from their juxtapositions, harmonies, or discords. Utilizing a wide and historical sweep of representations of the body—from pedigree charts to genetic sequences—VAS is, finally, the story of finding one's identity within the double helix of language and lineage.
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